Non-immigrant visas allow a foreigner to visit, study, invest or work for a specific time in the United States. The general rule is that foreigners who want to temporarily enter the US need a visa, although there are exceptions. Non-immigrant visas are different to immigrant visas, which become residency cards.

Which countries don´t need a visa to temporarily visit the United States?

For visits under 90 days to the United States as a tourist, citizens of any of the countries included in the US Visa Waiver Program may enter the country without a visa. These individuals need to fill in an ESTA electronically before starting their trip. If your application is rejected, you must go to the corresponding consular office and request a visa. Also, if your visit is for work or study reasons, then you must apply to the corresponding visa, even if you´re going to stay in the US for less than three months.

Canadian citizens also don´t need a visa, except for very limited exceptions, such as having previously violated their immigration status, being the spouse of a permanent legal resident or of an American citizen. The same applies to citizens of the British territory of Bermuda, as long as their stay is less than 180 days.

Finally, Mexican citizens and permanent legal residents in that country who live along the US border can cross over to the United States using the Border Crossing Card, known as a laser visa, which must be issued by a consular office in Mexico. Every person not included in the previous groups need a visa to visit, study, do business, receive medical treatment or work temporarily in the US.

Examples of nonimmigrant visas

Multiple types of visas are included in this category, the most common ones are these types of visa:

  • B1 / B2, tourist, pleasure or business.
  • F1 / M1 student or vocational.
  • G4 for employees of international organizations based in the United States such as the IMF, the UN or the OAS.
  • J-1 for professionals in exchange situations, academics, nannies, etc.
  • Or for people with special abilities in the Arts, Sports, Education, Science or Business.

Visa USA Now specializes in tourist and student visas, which are included in the non-immigrant visa category.

You must keep in mind that in the case of non-immigrant visas, the immigration officer at the airport or any port of entry has the decision of letting you in or not in their hands. The officer may deny the access to the US to the holder of a valid non-immigrant visa if he suspects that the foreign person is actually looking to remain in the US permanently.

Should I be present when applying for the visa?

Except for very specific exceptions, such as applying for a G-4 to work in international organizations, all applicants between the ages of 14 and 79 must go to the consulate the day they are called for an interview. Minors or elders, as a general rule, use the services of a courier company approved by the Embassy to carry out all their procedures.

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