Visas & Compliance:
Non-Immigrant Visas

Types of Visas


Maximum Stay Information for Temporary Employment Visas

Class Initial Stay Extension of Stay
E-1 Two (2) years Up to 2 years per extension. No maximum number of extensions, with some exceptions.
E-2 Two (2) years Up to 2 years per extension. No maximum number of extensions, with some exceptions.
H-1B1 Up to 3 years Increment of up to 3 years. Total stay limited to 6 years.
H-1B2 Up to 3 years Increment of up to 3 years. Total stay limited to 6 years, with some exceptions.
H-1C Up to 3 years Total stay limited to 3 years.
H-2A and H-2B Same as validity of labor certification, with maximum of 1 year. Same as validity of labor certification (increments of up to 1 year). Total stay limited to 3 years.
H-3 Special Education Training-up to 18 months.
Other Trainee-up to 2 years
Special Education Trainee-total stay limited to 18 months.
Other Trainee-total stay limited to 2 years.
L-1A Coming to existing office-up to 3 years.
Coming to new office-up to 1 year.
Increments of up to 2 years. Total stay limited to 7 years.
L-1B Coming to existing office-up to 3 years.
Coming to new office-up to 1 year
One increment of up to 2 years. Total stay limited to 5 years.
O-1 and O-2 Up to 3 years Increments of up to 1 year
P-1, P-2, P-3 and their support personnel Individual athlete-up to 5 years.
Athletic groups and Entertainment groups-up to 1 year.
Individual athlete-Increments of up to 5 years. Total stay limited to 10 years.
Athletic groups and entertainment groups-Increments of 1 year.
Q-1 Up to 15 months. Total stay limited to 15 months
    (Note: definition of each class of visa should display once only per chart)
R-1 and R-2 Up to 3 years Increments of up to 2 years. Total stay limited to 5 years.
All other Up to 1 year Increments of up to 1 year


Types of Visas

Diplomatic Employees and Personnel (A)

The A visa is a nonimmigrant visa for diplomats, officials, and employees of foreign governments coming to the U.S. on official business.

This category includes ambassadors, public ministers, career diplomats, and consular officers, recognized by the U.S., who are accepted by the President or the Secretary of State. Also included are certain other reciprocity-based foreign officials and employees, as well as their immediate family members.

This category also includes, based on reciprocity, the attendants, servants, personal, and employees of the foreign nationals described above.

Business Visitors (B-1) or Tourists (B-2)

The B visitor visa is a nonimmigrant visa for foreign nationals desiring to enter the U.S. temporarily for business (B-1), or for pleasure or medical treatment (B-2). B-1 business visitor visas are for a short duration and must not involve local employment. Travelers coming to the U.S. for tourism or business for 90 days or less from qualified countries may be eligible to visit the U.S. without a visa, pursuant to the Visa Waiver Program. Currently, 29 countries participate in the Visa Waiver Program: Andorra, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brunei, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Monaco, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, San Marino, Singapore, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom*, and Uruguay. Visitors entering on the Visa Waiver Program cannot work or study while in the U.S., cannot remain longer than 90 days or change status to another category. *The United Kingdom refers only to certain British citizens. Please contact us if you have questions in this regard.

Treaty Trader (E-1) or Treaty Investor (E-2)

The E visa is a nonimmigrant visa for traders and investors. The E visa category is based on particular treaties between the U.S. and certain foreign countries that are intended to encourage trade and investment. The E visa is available only for citizens of those particular countries which have entered into the requisite treaty with the U.S.

There are two types of E visas:

  • E-1 visas are available for personnel of companies engaged in trade with the U.S., known as "treaty traders."
  • E-2 visas are available for personnel of companies engaged in business in the U.S. which represents a substantial investment in the U.S., known as "treaty investors."

The initial period of stay for the E category is one year; however, it can be extended almost indefinitely.

The primary requirements for E visas are:

  1. There must be a treaty in force between the U.S. and the particular country of which the visa applicant is a citizen.
  2. Each visa applicant must be a citizen of the treaty country.
  3. The particular company sponsoring the visa applicant must be primarily owned or controlled by nationals of the treaty country.

E-1 visas (Treaty Traders):

  • the company sponsoring the visa applicant must be engaged in a substantial amount of trade principally between the U.S. and the treaty country; and
  • the visa applicant must be either a manager or executive (including an owner), or one who has essential skills.
  • an E-1 visa is available not only to those whose trade is in material goods, but also to those whose trade consists of services and technology.

E-2 visas (Treaty Investors):

  • the investment must be substantial, and active;
  • the investment must not be "marginal", i.e., one that supports only the investor's immediate family, as opposed to creating jobs in the U.S.; and
  • the visa applicant must be either an investor who will "develop and direct the investment,", a manager or executive, or a specially trained employee necessary for the development of the investment.

Applying for an E visa often involves the preparation of a substantial amount of documentation regarding corporate relationships, investments, and trade. Although each element appears to be simple in principle, when it comes to actually establishing each element in practice, the process is often quite complex. Moreover, the U.S. Department of State has developed a considerable number of rules that come into play with respect to each element. The U.S. has treaties with over 40 countries which permit nationals from those countries to own or be employed in the U.S. in a business which conducts a substantial volume of trade between the U.S. and the person's country of citizenship. Greenberg Traurig can help by guiding your company through this maze based on its considerable experience in preparing these petitions.

Specialty Occupation Workers (E-3)

The E-3 visa is a non-immigrant visa for temporary workers that are Australian nationals, entering the U.S. to perform services in a specialty occupation. E-3 visa holders must show that they are an Australian national seeking employment in a specialty occupation requiring possession of a bachelors degree or higher (or its equivalent) and possess the appropriate degree (or its equivalent) in the field in which the alien wishes to work. E-3 nonimmigrant status is initially granted for a period of no more than two years, extendible indefinitely in increments of two years.

Students (F-1)

The F visa is a nonimmigrant visa for a foreign national having a residence in a foreign country which s/he has no intention of abandoning, who is a bona fide student qualified to pursue a full course of study, and who seeks to enter the U.S. temporarily and solely for the purpose of pursuing such a course of study at an approved academic institution or approved language school (check that the academic/language school is authorized to issue Form I-20). This visa also includes the foreign student's spouse and minor children who accompany or follow-to-join the foreign national.

International Organizations Employees (G)

The G visa is a nonimmigrant visa for a designated principal resident representative and accredited staff of a foreign government recognized by the U.S., which foreign government is a member of an international organization entitled to enjoy the privileges, exemptions, and immunities under the International Organizations Immunities Act. Also included are other diplomatic representatives, officials and employees who are not included in this definition, and members of their immediate families. In addition, this visa includes the attendants, servants or personal employees (and their immediate families) of any representative, official or employee described above.

Temporary Worker (H1-B)

The H-1B visas are temporary employment visas, entitling the visa holder to work in the U.S. for a particular employer, in a particular job, for a specified period of up to a total of six years. H-1B visas are available for temporary specialty occupations or professional positions.

The main requirements for the H-1B visa:

  1. The job must be either in a "specialty occupation," i.e., a professional field. A "specialty occupation" is one which requires the theoretical and practical application of a body of highly specialized knowledge to fully perform the occupation and requires completion of a specific course of education culminating in a baccalaureate degree in a specific occupational specialty, e.g., computer scientists, architects, teachers, and engineers.
  2. The applicant must actually have the necessary credentials, e.g., the baccalaureate degree in the particular specialty.
  3. The job must actually require the services of someone who possesses the credentials of a professional. This means that the USCIS may scrutinize certain job offers as being fraudulentif it suspects that the job offer is made for immigration reasons alone.
  4. The employer must pay the applicant the prevailing wage in the area, or the wage it pays other workers in its company, whichever is greater.

H-1B visa holders may also bring their family members with them on H-4 visas. The spouse and children under 21 years of age are not permitted to work, but may attend school.

Temporary Worker (H-2B)

The H2B visa is a temporary visa that allows employers in the U.S. to recruit foreign workers as long as the terms of employment are temporary in nature. This visa is granted for a 1 year period and may be extended for additional periods of 1 year to a maximum of 3 years. Temporary in nature refers to jobs that;

  • reoccur seasonally
  • provide assistance during high season
  • one-time projects

It is the responsibility of the employer to obtain a labor certification from the Department of Labor that states there are no American workers who are able to fill the position of employment. The H-2B visa can only be granted if the job of the foreign worker will not limit the employment opportunities of American workers. The foreign worker must prove they meet the criterion for the job (skilled or unskilled labor), and have the intention on leaving the United States after the employment is done.

International Media Representatives (I)

The "I" visa is a nonimmigrant visa given to a foreign national who is a bona fide representative of foreign press, radio, film, or other foreign information media, seeking to enter the U.S. solely to engage in such vocation. Also included in the I visa category are the spouse and children of such a representative, if accompanying or following to join him or her. Journalists, TV news personnel, and other similar occupations come under this category.

Exchange Visitors (J)

The "J" visa is a nonimmigrant visa category for foreign nationals to participate in exchange visitor programs in the U.S. The "J" visa is for educational and cultural exchange programs designated by the U.S. Information Agency, (USIA).

The "J" exchange visitor program is designed to promote the interchange of persons, knowledge, and skills in the fields of education, arts, and sciences. Participants include students at all academic levels; trainees obtaining on-the-job training with firms, institutions, and agencies; teachers of primary, secondary, and specialized schools; professors coming to teach or do research at institutions of higher learning; research scholars; professional trainees in the medical and allied fields; and international visitors coming for the purpose of travel, observation, consultation, research, training, sharing, or demonstrating specialized knowledge or skills, or participating in organized people-to-people programs.

The regulations state that:

  • Participants in the "J" exchange visitor program must have sufficient funds to cover all expenses, or funds must be provided by the sponsoring organization in the form of a scholarship or other stipend; and
  • "J" exchange visitors must have sufficient scholastic preparation to participate in the designated program, including knowledge of the English language, or the exchange program must be designed to accommodate non-English speaking participants.

Applicants for exchange visitor visas should generally apply at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate with jurisdiction over their place of permanent residence.

Intra-Company Transferees for Managers and Executives (L-1)

The L-1 visa category is intended to facilitate international business by permitting the transfer of non-U.S. managers and specialized personnel into the U.S. by companies with operations in the U.S. and abroad. There are two types of L-1 visas: L-1A visas are available for executives and managers; and L-1B visas are available for "specialized knowledge personnel."

The main requirements for L-1 visas are:

  • The employee must have worked abroad in either (a) a managerial or executive position, or (b) in a position performing services entailing "specialized knowledge;" and must be coming to work in the U.S. in one of these capacities.
  • The company for which the employee worked abroad must be either the same company for which the employee will be working for in the U.S., or a branch, subsidiary, or affiliate of that company.
  • The employee must have worked abroad for that particular company for one continuous year within the three-year period immediately preceding the filing of the petition for the L-1 visa.
  • The employee must be qualified, in terms of education and experience, for the position.
  • The employee must intend to leave the U.S. at the end of the authorized period of stay.
  • The company in the U.S. and the related company abroad must continue doing business in the U.S. and in one foreign country during the entire period of the transfer.

L-1 Visa holders may also bring their family members with them on L-2 visas. The spouse and children under 21 years of age may attend school and the L-2 spouse is also allowed to work, with a valid work authorization document (applied for separately from the L-1 visa).

Extraordinary Ability Workers (O)

The O visa category is designated for foreign nationals with extraordinary ability. This includes educators, entertainers, athletes, scientists, businesspersons and support personnel. The O category requires that extraordinary ability be demonstrated by sustained national or international acclaim. In the case of foreign nationals seeking O status in the film and television industries, a lesser "extraordinary achievement" standard prevails. With regard to persons seeking O status in the arts, the standard is "distinction" which is defined identically with the "prominence" standard under prior law. The admission of an O nonimmigrant is limited to the period of time necessary to complete the event for which the person is admitted.

Artists and Athletes (P)

The P visa is the nonimmigrant visa category for performing artists and athletes, entertainment groups and athletic teams. The foreign national must perform individually, or as part of a group at an internationally recognized level. P-1 foreign nationals must show international recognition for outstanding performances over a sustained and substantial period of time. The P-2 category allows foreign performers to enter the US if there are reciprocal exchange programs. The P-3 category is for performers of a culturally unique group.

The P visa category is also for those entertainers and athletes who cannot qualify under the extraordinary ability standard of the O category. The coverage of the visa is twofold: (1) athletes who compete individually or as part of a team at an internationally recognized level and (2) foreign nationals who perform with or, are an integral and essential part of the performance of, an entertainment group that has received international recognition as "outstanding" for a "sustained and substantial period of time."

An eligible athlete must have a ratified contract with a major U.S. sports league or team or documentation of at least two of the following:

  • prior participation with a U.S. team
  • participation in international competition with a national team
  • participation in U.S. college intercollegiate competition
  • a statement from an official of the governing body of the sport
  • a statement from a recognized expert, international rankings, significant honors; or
  • awards received by the individual or team

An eligible group will have at least 75% of their members maintaining a substantial relationship with the group for at least one year. Under applicable USCIS guidelines, international recognition can be established by:

  • The group's nomination or receipt of significant international awards or prizes for outstanding achievement in its field; or
  • At least three of the following types of documentation which establishes that the entertainment group has:
    • performed or will perform as a starring or leading entertainment group in production or events which have distinguished reputation (as evidenced by critical reviews, advertisements, publicity releases, publications, contracts or endorsements);
    • achieved international recognition and acclaim for outstanding achievements in its field as evidenced by reviews in major newspapers, trade journals, magazines, etc;
    • performed and will perform services as a leading or starring group for organizations and establishments that have a distinguished reputation (as evidenced by articles in newspapers, trade journals, or testimonials);
    • has a record of major or critically acclaimed successes (as evidenced by indicators such as ratings and record sales);
    • achieved significant recognition for achievements from organizations, critics, government agencies, or other recognized experts in the field (such testimonials must clearly indicate the author's authority, expertise, and knowledge of the group's achievements);
    • commanded a high salary or other substantial remuneration for services comparable to others similarly situated in the field (as evidenced by contracts or other reliable evidence).

Cultural Exchange Visitors (Q)

The Q visa is a nonimmigrant visa category for persons to participate in exchange visitor programs in the U.S.. The Q visa is designated for international cultural exchange programs.

The Q international cultural exchange program is designed for the purpose of providing practical training, employment, and the sharing of the history, culture, and traditions of the participant's home country in the U.S.

The regulations state that:

  • Q exchange visitors will be paid by their employing sponsor at the same rate paid to local domestic workers similarly employed; and
  • the person must be 18 years old and be able to communicate effectively about the cultural attributes of his or her country.

Disney often utilizes these visas to bring international visitors to work at Epcot Center.

Applicants for exchange visitor visas should generally apply at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate with jurisdiction over their place of permanent residence. Although visa applicants may apply at any U.S. consular office abroad, it may be more difficult to qualify for the visa outside the country of permanent residence.

Religious Workers (R)

The R visa is a nonimmigrant visa designated for the religious workers from a foreign country.

Religious workers include ministers of religion who are authorized by a recognized denomination to conduct religious worship and perform other duties usually performed by members of the clergy such as administering the sacraments, or their equivalent.

The term does not apply to lay preachers. A religious vocation means a calling to religious life, evidenced by the demonstration of a lifelong commitment, such as taking vows. Examples include nuns, monks, and religious brothers and sisters.

A religious occupation means a habitual engagement in an activity which relates to a traditional religious function. Examples include liturgical workers, religious instructors or cantors, catechists, workers in religious hospitals, missionaries, religious translators, or religious broadcasters. It does not include janitors, maintenance workers, clerks, fund raisers, solicitors of donations, or similar occupations.

The activity of a lay-person who will be engaged in a religious occupation must relate to a traditional religious function: i.e., the activity must embody the tenets of the religion and have religious significance, relating primarily, if not exclusively, to matters of the spirit as they apply to the religion.

The regulations state that the requirements for this visa include the following:

  • The applicant must be a member of a religious denomination having a bona fide nonprofit religious organization in the U.S.;
  • The applicant has been a member of the denomination for two years immediately preceding admission;
  • The applicant is entering the U.S. solely to carry on the vocation of a minister of that denomination, or, at the request of the organization, the applicant is entering the U.S. to work in a religious vocation or occupation for the denomination or for an organization affiliated with the denomination, whether in a professional capacity or not; and
  • The applicant has resided and been physically present outside the U.S. for the immediate prior year if he or she has previously spent five years in this classification.

Temporary Workers: Canadian and Mexican Professionals Under NAFTA (TN)

The TN visas are temporary employment visas for NAFTA professionals (Canadian and Mexican citizens). The TN entitles the visa holder to work in the U.S. for a particular employer, in a particular job, if they possess the credentials required, as well as proof of qualifying citizenship. TN status allows the visa holder unlimited entries into the U.S. for the period of service required by the U.S. employer (including foreign employers), up to a maximum of one year, extendible indefinitely as long as the temporary purpose of the employment continues.