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Visiting America

December 15, 2008
A nonimmigrant is a foreign national seeking to enter the United States (U.S.) temporarily for a specific purpose. Nonimmigrants enter the U.S. for a temporary period of time, and once in the U.S. are restricted to the activity or reason for which their visa was issued. They may have more than one type of nonimmigrant visa but are admitted in only one status.

General requirements for foreign nationals seeking temporary admission include, but are not limited to, the following:
  • The purpose of the visit must be temporary;
  • The foreign national must agree to depart at the end of his/her authorized stay or extension;
  • The foreign national must be in possession of a valid passport;
  • A foreign residence must be maintained by the foreign national, in most instances;
  • The foreign national may be required to show proof of financial support;
  • The foreign national must be admissible or have obtained a waiver for any ground of inadmissibility;
  • The foreign national must abide by the terms and conditions of admission.

B1 - Business Visitors

In general, this type of visa is for individuals who can demonstrate a business-related reason for visiting the United States. Length of stay is for up to 1 year.

Academic Honoraria: B1 Visitors to certain higher educational institutions, related nonprofit organizations, or nonprofit or governmental research organizations are authorized to receive an honorarium payment and incidental expenses for usual academic activities lasting no more than 9 days at any single such institution or organization.

B2 - Tourist Visas

This visa enables foreign nationals to travel temporarily in the U.S. Such trips cannot involve employment, and the length of stay may be up to one year. Note that nationals of countries participating in the Visa Waiver Pilot Program may enter the U.S. without a visa and stay for a period of up to 90 days. However, if one enters under the Visa Waiver program, a change of status to other nonimmigrant or immigrant categories is not permitted.

Visa Waiver Program

Note that under the Visa Waiver program, nationals of certain countries, including the Australia, Andorra, Argentina, Austria, Belgium, Brunei, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Monaco, the Netherlands, Norway, New Zealand, Portugal, San Marino, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom and Uruguay may visit the U.S. for tourist or business (however, not to work for a U.S. employer) purposes for up to three months.

Can Family & Friends Visit the U.S.?

People often ask how they can help a family member, relative or friend get a visa to visit them in the United States. Under U.S. law, applicants for visitor visas must apply on their own to visit the United States.To qualify for a visitor visa, applicants must:
  1. Complete and sign the required application forms
  2. Bring evidence that their visit is temporary and that they will return home after their legally authorized stay, and
  3. Undergo security clearance procedures
It doesn't help the applicant to write a letter of invitation or guarantee their departure from the U.S. after their visit is over. A consular officer from the U.S. Department of State (not USCIS) evaluates every visa application on its own merits according to the law.

Feel free to visit attorney Kamal Nawash for a consultation.