If you wish to enter the U.S. for a temporary period of time, a non-immigrant visa permits you to travel to a U.S. port of entry and request permission of the Department of Homeland Security to visit for a specific purpose, whether for work, schooling, a conference, etc., or to visit the country, friends or family.

A non-immigrant visa differs from an immigrant visa in that the non-immigrant visa only allows a person to enter temporarily, whereas an immigrant visa holder can enter and stay permanently.

The length of time someone can stay in the U.S. depends on the visa status under which they are admitted (for example, specialty occupation). And a person admitted in one status can often change their status in order to stay longer–or to perform different activities. For instance, a medical school student may want to change his or her status to an employer-sponsored non-immigrant visa once they graduate and find employment (assuming their new employer will sponsor them). Several types of non-immigrant visas also allow a person to extend their status and thereby extend their stay in the U.S.

The process can sometimes be confusing and complicated. Our firm can make it much easier, determining the visa category that is right for you and assisting you with changing status from your current category to the new category. In appropriate cases, we can also obtain legal status and work authorization for your dependent family members.

The following is a brief list of the most commonly used temporary working visa categories:

H1-B Specialty Occupation
This non-immigrant visa classification applies to an alien who will be employed temporarily in a specialty occupation (one which typically requires a Bachelors degree) or as a fashion model of distinguished merit and ability. Under current law, there is an annual limit of 65,000 aliens who may be issued a visa or otherwise provided H-1B status. As many as 20,000 additional H-1B slots are available to graduates of U.S. Master’s degree (or higher) programs.


Visas available to employers in the agricultural sector who need seasonal or temporary labor. Examples include farms who need temporary workers to assist with planting, growing, and harvesting crops or cattle ranchers needing additional hands for a temporary or seasonal basis. To qualify for H-2A nonimmigrant classification, the petitioner must:

  • Offer a job that is of a temporary or seasonal nature,
    • Demonstrate that there are not sufficient U.S. workers who are able, willing, qualified, and available to do the temporary work,
    • Show that prospective employees are nationals of an H-2A-eligible country (see the H-2A temporary Agricultural Workers page for the list),
    • Show that employing H-2A workers will not adversely affect the wages and working conditions of similarly employed U.S. workers and
    • Generally, submit a valid temporary labor certification from the U.S. Department of Labor. (A limited exception to this requirement exists in certain “emergent circumstances.” See e.g., 8 CFR 214.2(h)(5)(x) for specific details.)


H-2Bs are used for employers who require temporary seasonal workers, or those fulfilling a one-time occurrence, or peak load need. A common example of employers who may need to utilize these visas are in the landscaping or construction based industries.
To qualify for H-2B nonimmigrant classification, the petitioner must establish that:

  • There are not enough U.S. workers who are able, willing, qualified, and available to do the temporary work.
    • The prospective employees are nationals of an H-2B-eligible country (see the H-2B Temporary Non-agricultural Workers page for the list,
    • Employing H-2B workers will not adversely affect the wages and working conditions of similarly employed U.S. workers, and
    • Its need for the prospective worker’s services or labor is temporary, regardless of whether the underlying job can be described as temporary. The employer’s need is considered temporary if it is a(n):
  • one-time occurrence – A petitioner claiming a one-time occurrence must show that it has not employed workers to perform the service or labor in the past, and will not need workers to perform the services or labor in the future, or that it has an employment situation that is otherwise permanent but a temporary event of short duration has created the need for a temporary worker.
  • seasonal need – A petitioner claiming a seasonal need must show that the service or labor for which it seeks workers is: traditionally tied to a season of the year by an event or pattern and is of a recurring nature. Note: You cannot claim a seasonal need if the time period when you do NOT need the service or labor is:
  • Unpredictable;
  • Subject to change; or
  • Considered a vacation period for your permanent employees.
  • peakload need – A petitioner claiming a peakload need must show that it: regularly employs permanent workers to perform the services or labor at the place of employment, that it needs to temporarily supplement its permanent staff at the place of employment due to a seasonal or short-term demand, and that the temporary additions to staff will not become part of the employer’s regular operation.
  • intermittent need – A petitioner claiming an intermittent need must show that it has not employed permanent or full-time workers to perform the services or labor and that it occasionally or intermittently needs temporary workers to perform services or labor for short periods.

L-1 Intra-company Transfers
The L-1 visa permits multinational companies to transfer high-level and essential employees from their international offices to the United States. The non-immigrant would work at the affiliate or subsidiary of that same employer in the U.S. in a managerial, executive, or specialized knowledge capacity.

E-1 Treaty Traders
The E-1 visa allows an individual to enter the United States on a non-immigrant basis for the sole purpose of carrying on substantial trade between his or her country and the United States. The home country of the non-immigrant must have a treaty with the United States.

E-2 Treaty Investor
If you come the U.S. to run an enterprise in which you are invested, you may obtain the non-immigrant visa status of E-2 treaty investor. If you are an employee of a treaty trader investor you may also be qualified as an E visa holder if your duties require special qualifications essential to the business. The non-immigrant must have the same nationality as the alien employer and the home country of the non-immigrant must have a treaty with the United States.

O-1 Individuals of Extraordinary Ability or Achievement
Highly talented or acclaimed individuals may be eligible for an O visa for entry into the U.S. People who may qualify for this visa are physicians, scientists and accomplished businesspeople as well as athletes considered at the top of their field.

TN Professionals
These visas are limited to nationals of Canada and Mexico. If you are employed in one of the sixty-three listed professions in NAFTA, you can apply for non-immigrant TN status. Most of the listed professions require either a bachelor’s degree or a licensures degree.

R-1 Religious Workers
The R-1 visa permits religious workers to come to the U.S. to take on a religious occupation and perform services for their religious organization. The religious organization must already be established in the United States.

Find out about MANY other means of obtaining a non-immigrant visa to the U.S., by contacting us today to arrange a consultation.