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Non-Immigrant Visas

Chicago Non-Immigrant Visas

A visa is a document that allows someone to be in the United States. There are two types of visas: immigrant and non-immigrant.

Non-immigrant visas give temporary permission for someone to come to the U.S. for a limited time and specific purpose. There are several types of non-immigrant visas that allow foreign nationals to live or work in the U.S.

The attorneys at Scott D. Pollock & Associates represent clients throughout the non-immigrant visa process. We have experience in all types of non-immigrant visas, including the following categories.

B-1 and B-2: Visitors

B visas are intended for people visiting the U.S. The B-1 category is for business visitors, and B-2 visas are for non-business visitors. To be eligible, a foreign national must show why they are staying in the U.S. as well as prove that their stay will be temporary.

These visas can be obtained more quickly than any other type.

E-1 and E-2: Treaty Traders and Investors

E-1 visas, the treaty trader visas, are for foreign nationals coming to the U.S. to carry on substantial trade between the U.S. and their home country. Similarly, E-2 visas are for foreign nationals looking to invest a substantial amount of capital in an enterprise.

One advantage of E visas over others is that they do not require any specific educational background, they can be extended indefinitely, and a person can travel in and out of the U.S. freely until the visa expires. However, E-1 and E-2 visas can be difficult and time intensive to document.

E-3: Australian Workers in a Special Occupation

Australian nations employed in special occupations can take advantage of a treaty between the U.S. and Australia that allows them to apply for a temporary visa to work and live in America. The E-3 visa requires that a person is applying to work in an occupation that requires specialized knowledge and training.

E-3 visas are open to Australian nationals only, and applicants have the distinct advantage of not being subject to the H-1B visa cap.

Extension of Stay and Change of Status

Non-immigrant visas are temporary. However, in some circumstances, foreign nationals may want to extend their stay in the U.S. To do so, they will need to file an application to extend/change their non-immigrant status (Form I-539) with U.S. Customs and Immigrant Services (USCIS).

Not all non-immigrant visa holders are eligible to extend their stay.

F and M: International Students

International students can apply for F or M visas to study in the U.S.

F-1 visas allow foreign nationals to come to the U.S. as full-time academic or language students. They must have already been accepted in an approved school or institution before applying.

M-1 visas are for foreign nationals who want to pursue a vocational, non-academic program in an established U.S. institution. Examples of such programs include dental hygienists, mechanists, and healthcare technicians. Similar to F-1 visas, M-1 visa applicants must be accepted to an established program before obtaining a visa.

H-1: Professional Workers

H-1 visas are for workers in special professions, and they are the most popular of the H visas. These visas are intended for foreign workers who want to temporarily work in a specialty occupation for a U.S. employer. Applicants must meet educational requirements in their discipline and be an established expert in their field.

Petitions for H-1 visas are made by U.S. employers interested in hiring foreign nationals, but there are limits to the number of H-1 visas the U.S. will approve every year.

H-2: Temporary Workers

H-2 visas are for unskilled or job-trained workers. They allow U.S. employers to bring foreign nationals to fill temporary positions in a variety of non-agricultural industries, including those that are seasonal, intermittent, or one-time occurrences.

As with H-1 visas, H-2 visa petitions fall under caps, and the waiting lists can be extremely long. Employers must prove that their need for a foreign national’s services is temporary.

H-3: Trainees

H-3 visas allow foreign nationals to come to the U.S. temporarily as either trainees or special education exchange visitors. Typical fields of study include agriculture, finance, transportation, and communications.

These visas are not designed for employment in the U.S.; instead, they are intended to provide training for jobs that will be performed in foreign countries.

J and Q: Exchange Visitors

There are two non-immigrant visa categories for foreign nationals who want to participate in exchange visitor programs in the U.S. J-1 visas are for educational and cultural programs, and Q-1 visas are for certain international cultural exchange programs.

J and Q visas are meant to promote the exchange of people, talent, ideas, culture, and history between the U.S. and the visa holder’s home country.

K: Fiancés

K-1 visas are specifically for the fiancées of citizens who want to get married in the U.S. The process of obtaining a K-1 visa is often quicker than traveling overseas, getting married, and then applying for legal permanent resident status. It is ideal for citizens who want to marry their foreign-born fiancé in the U.S.

L: Intracompany Transferees

Intracompany transferees fall under the L-1 visa category. These visas are for foreign workers coming to the U.S. branch of their company to perform services in a managerial, executive, or specialized capacity. L visas are some of the most complex applications to document.

Non-Immigrant Waivers of Inadmissibility

Foreign nationals may be denied admission into the U.S. for a variety of reasons, including criminal grounds, medical reasons, or immigration violations. However, with a few exceptions, some grounds of inadmissibility can potentially be waived.

A person applying for a non-immigrant waiver of inadmissibility will usually do so at a U.S. consulate or embassy. Several factors could determine whether their application will be approved:

  • How serious or recent the inadmissible action was
  • Why the foreign national wants to travel to the U.S.
  • What positive or negative effect, if any, the planned travel has on U.S. interests
  • What evidence of reformation is provided
  • Whether the incident is isolated or part of a pattern of misconduct


The application package will include a letter with details about the request, ideally supported by evidence.

O: Individuals with Extraordinary Ability

O-1 visas are for foreign nationals who have sustained national or international acclaim in their profession, whether in science, business, sports, or another field. These workers with extraordinary ability must document their expertise in their O-1 visa application.

P: Performing Entertainers and Athletes

There are three classifications of P visas for performing entertainers and athletes. P-1 visas are for athletes or entertainers coming to the U.S. to perform in a competition or with a foreign-based entertainment group. P-2 visas are for foreign artists or entertainers coming to the U.S. to perform as part of a reciprocal exchange program between an American organization and one in another country. P-3 visas are for foreign nationals coming to the U.S. to teach, coach, or perform in a culturally unique program.

These visas do not have a quota, and they may be renewed indefinitely, depending on how long the foreign entertainer or athlete is needed.

R: Religious Workers

Foreign religious workers—ministers, priests, religious educators, translators, missionaries, and others—may apply for an R-1 visa to work temporarily in the U.S. These visas are tied to a specific religious organization in the U.S. and require that the foreign national has been part of that denomination for at least two years before applying for the R-1 visa.

T: Victims of Human Trafficking

T visas were created to provide temporary U.S. residence for victims of human trafficking. Defined as a form of modern-day slavery, human trafficking is far too common. These visas enable certain human trafficking victims to remain in the U.S. for up to four years to recover from their ordeal and assist law enforcement in the investigation and prosecution of traffickers.

T visa holders may be able to adjust their status to become LPRs.

TN: Canadian and Mexican Workers in a Special Occupation

TN visas allow Canadian and Mexican citizens to temporarily work in the U.S. in more than 60 professional occupations, including accounting, architecture, graphic design, social work, chemistry, engineering, and analytics. The challenge of applying for a TN visa is in proving that the U.S. job is both temporary and legitimate.

U: Victims of Criminal Activity

U visas allow victims of certain types of criminal activity to temporarily live and work in the U.S. The intent of U visas is to assist law enforcement in criminal investigations as well as support humanitarian efforts.

Contact an Attorney Today

At Scott D. Pollock & Associates, we provide individuals, families, and employers with the legal representation they need to navigate the complex legalities surrounding non-immigrant visas.

Our attorneys have over seven decades of combined experience in U.S. immigration law. We’ve helped guide numerous clients through the complicated process of gaining non-immigrant visas in the U.S.

Contact a member of our team today at 312.444.1940.