When you think of getting a nonimmigrant visa, you may immediately consider going through your employment or your family. However, there are many different ways to spend time in the United States. Below, you will find information on some of the other visa categories that may suit your situation better than an employment or family-based visa.
As the name suggests, the student visa is for those that wish to study temporarily at a U.S. institution. This can be applied to almost all levels of education and is typically valid for the duration of your studies plus an additional period of work experience if you are qualified. However, those with a student visa are not permitted to seek permanent resident (green card) status while under this nonimmigrant category.
The F-1 is for academic students that are studying in a U.S. primary school , secondary school, college, or university. The F-1 student cannot work unless he or she applies for Optional Practical Training (OPT) after their first year of school. This is a program that allows students to work within their field for up to 12 months during or after their studies. Those that have degrees in science, technology, engineering, or mathematics (STEM) can apply for a STEM OPT, which allows for 24 months of work.
The M-1 allows for students of vocational schools to work. This includes programs such as culinary school or electrician school. However, if you are planning on spending a short time on a recreational course, you should consider applying for a visitor visa.
For those that only wish to enter the U.S. for a short period of time, the visitor visas may be the best option for you. They are extremely limiting regarding what you can and cannot do while under the visa. However, you do not need a sponsor and you do not need to meet a long list of requirements in order to qualify, making them relatively easy to obtain.
The B-1 is reserved for those that wish to enter the U.S. for a business obligation. This can include conferences, meetings, estate settlements, negotiate a contract, and other activities related to business. While you are unable to obtain U.S. employment under the B-1 visa, you may be able to receive payment from your foreign employer for your time spent in the U.S.
For tourists, the B-2 is the visa to get. Thousands of people come to the U.S. from all over the world under the B-2 to visit family, tour cities and monuments, and also undergo medical treatment. While you are permitted to go through a short recreational course such as a cooking class, you cannot study and earn credits for a degree under the B-2.
Other Visa Categories
Here are some other visas that are substantially less common but no less important. If your situation demands the use of one of these visas, please do not hesitate to contact us for help with your case.
C Visa: U.S. Transit
There are those that wish to stay in the U.S., and there are others who simply wish to use the U.S. as a short stopping point. For those, the C class visa is usually the best option. This visa is even more limiting than the visitor visa and is only available for the following people:
- Those who are traveling to a different country and have a short layover in the U.S. If you choose to stay in the airport during your layover, then you shouldn’t need to apply for a C visa. However, if you need to change airports or wish to tour nearby areas during your layover, then you will likely need a C-1 visa to travel in the country.
- Cruise ship passengers who find themselves unintentionally in the U.S. if the ship makes an unscheduled stop in a U.S. port.
- Crewmembers that work on planes or ships traveling to the U.S. These individuals may need a combination of the C-1 and the D visa, which is for crewmembers specifically.
- Any foreign national who is traveling through the U.S. (e.g. travelling from Canada to Mexico) with no intention of staying in the U.S.
U Visa: Victim of Crime
The U class visa may be issued to those who were victims of a crime that transgressed U.S. laws or physically occurred in the U.S. According to the regulations given by the Department of State, you must have been subjected to mental or physical abuse as a result of the crime and you must have information about the crime that may help in an investigation.
T-1 Visa: Victim of Human Trafficking
Human trafficking can come in many forms, and the U.S. is prepared to help those in need. If you are a foreign national who is looking for safe refuge in the U.S., you can apply for the T-1 visa. This will allow you to stay in the country and help officials investigate and prosecute those who participate in human trafficking. In order to qualify for the T-1:
- You must be physically present in the U.S. due to human trafficking.
- You must show that hardship would befall you if you left the U.S.
- You must be willing to help officials in their investigation into human trafficking.
How to Apply
For all of the above visas (except for the T-1 visa), the process of applying is relatively simple compared to that of family and employment-based visas. The first step is to complete the DS-160 online nonimmigrant visa application. You must submit the payment and also provide a photo of yourself according to the DOS photo requirements.
Once your DS-160 has been processed, you can schedule an interview at the U.S. Consulate or Embassy in your home country. You can check the DOS website to see what the average interview appointment wait times are for your area. In many cases, only those between the ages of 14 and 79 are required to go through an interview. However, the immigration officer retains the right to interview anyone regardless of age within reasonable parameters.
At the interview, the officer will ask you simple questions about your situation to verify if your case is legitimate. If possible, you should also bring the following items to your interview:
- Your passport which will be valid for at least six months after the end of your visa validation period.
- The printed confirmation page from your completed DS-160
- A receipt of payment for the DS-160
- A photo of yourself if you were unable to upload one during the application process
Keep in mind that this is not an exhaustive list and additional documents may be required of you. To know exactly what you need to bring with you, be sure to speak with your immigration attorney, who will have a much better idea of your unique situation.
How Our Immigration Attorneys Can Help
There are many different types of visas that are tailored for specific circumstances. While these other visas may seem straightforward, there are still a plethora of pitfalls that can be easily avoided with the help of an immigration attorney. To ensure that your case is in the best hands and that your immigration process goes as smoothly as possible, get help no matter which visa you need.
Here at SGM Law Group, our attorneys have decades of experience helping people from all over the world travel to the U.S. through employment, family, and other visa situations. Tourists, students, and victims of crime have all found their way to the U.S. due to the dedication of the passionate attorneys here. To get in touch with a lawyer, contact us and schedule your consultation today.