Are You Eligible to Get a Temporary (Nonimmigrant) U.S. Visa?

An introduction to whether you might be eligible for a temporary (nonimmigrant) visa with which to spend time in the United States.

The following quiz will give you an introduction to whether you might be eligible for a temporary (nonimmigrant) visa with which to spend time in the United States. U.S. immigration law defines narrow categories of people who can be visa-eligible, and you’ll need to fit into one of these to apply. Don’t, however, make your final determination as to eligibility using this quiz, which leave out some of the more obscure types of U.S. visas – see an immigration attorney for a full analysis.

For more information on obtaining temporary visas to the United States, including details on the eligibility criteria and instructions on how to apply, see U.S. Immigration Made Easy, by Ilona Bray, J.D. (Nolo).

The following chart was excerpted from the above mentioned book.

Eligibility Question

Visa Possibility

Are you interested in a short trip to the United States for pleasure, business, or medical care?

You may be eligible for a B-1 or B-2 visitor visa. Also, depending on which country you are from, you may be eligible for a visa waiver, allowing you to travel to the United States without getting a visa first, so long as you intend to leave within 90 days.

Has a U.S. employer offered you a job that requires highly specialized knowledge gained from a university degree or equivalent work experience?

You may be eligible for an H-1B work visa, which is good for up to six years.

Has a U.S. employer offered you a temporary or seasonal nonagricultural job, whether skilled or unskilled?

You may be eligible for an H-2B work visa, which is good for up to one year.

Does a U.S. company plan to offer you on-the-job training in order to help your career in your home country?

You may be eligible for an H-3 visa, which is good for the length of the training, up to two years.

Does your company, which has offices both inside and outside the U.S., want to transfer you to the U.S. as an owner, executive, manager, or employee with special knowledge?

You may be eligible for an L-1 visa, which is usually good for five to seven years.

Are you a part owner or key employee of a company that trades with the U.S., and plan to come to the U.S. to trade or to help develop or direct the company’s operations?

You may be eligible for an E-1 treaty trader visa, which is initially good for up to two years.

Are you a part owner or key employee of a U.S. company supported by investment from natives of your home country, and plan to come to the U.S. to work for that company?

You may be eligible for an E-2 treaty investor visa, which is initially good for up to two years.

Have you been accepted to study at an academic school or college/university in the U.S.?

You may be eligible for an F-1 (academic student) visa. This visa is good for the length of your studies plus 60 days to prepare for leaving the U.S. or transfer to another school.

Have you been accepted to study at a vocational school in the U.S.?

You may be eligible for an M-1 (vocational student) visa. This visa is good for the length of your studies plus 30 days to depart the U.S., up to a total of one year, with extensions up to another two years.

Have you been accepted to participate in an exchange program in the U.S.?

You may be eligible for a J-1 exchange visitor visa, which is good for the length of the program.

Has a U.S. employer offered you a job based on either your extraordinary ability in the arts, sciences, education, business, or athletics; or as a religious worker?

You may be eligible for an O, P, or R visa. This is good for between one and five years in the case of O and P visas, and five years in the case of R visas.

Have you said “no” to all of the above questions?

See an immigration lawyer  to see whether you have overlooked any possibility.

More Information

If you need legal advice for your particular situation, consult with an immigration lawyer. To learn more about the US Visas available, and basic procedural information, see AllLaw's section on Temporary Visas.

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