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Non-Immigrant Visa

Non-Immigrant Visa Information

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To enter the United States temporarily most citizens of foreign countries must obtain a visa. Citizens of qualified countries participating in the Visa Waiver Program may be able to visit the United States without a visa. (Unfortunately the Russian Federation does not currently participate in this program). In general for short-term visits to the US you must get a non-immigrant visa.

You should understand that a non-immigrant visa (or any other type of visa) does not mean your guaranteed entry to the United States. It simply indicates that you are declared eligible to apply for entry for a specific purpose. As a non-immigrant visa applicant you should demonstrate strong ties to your country of residence and clear intention to depart the USA after your temporary stay.

Below you can find information about the most commonly issued non-immigrant visa types.

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Business / Tourism Visa (B1/B2)

If you are traveling for business or pleasure you must obtain the B1/B2 visitor visa. This visa type is also for people coming to the US for short-term medical treatment. Often the B1 and B2 visas are combined and issued as one.

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Student Visa (F, M)

Oversea students accepted to a US college, university, public school or other approved educational program need to get an F visa. Get in touch with your school or educational institution – they will help with an application and provide necessary documentation.

If you intend to travel for non-academic or vocational study or training in the US you must obtain an M visa.

Bear in mind that if your course of study is less than 18 academic hours per week you may travel to the US on B2 tourist visa.

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Work Visa (H, L, O, P, Q, R)

The immigration law requires you to have a specific visa if you intend to work in the United States. Visa type depends on the nature of work you will be doing. There are different visas for professionals in specialized fields (H1B), workers transferring to a company office in the United States (L), athletes and entertainers (P), cultural exchange workers (Q), religious workers (R), and people with extraordinary talent or skill (O). Most work visas require that your prospective employer files a petition that must be approved by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services before you apply for a visa.

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Exchange Visitor Visa (J)

Exchange visitor programs are designed to promote interchange of persons, skills and knowledge in various areas of life like education, arts and sciences. Exchange program participants must obtain a J visa to enter the United States. This visa type is for students at all academic levels; professional trainees; teachers; professors coming to teach or do research at institutions of higher learning; research scholars; and international visitors participating in organized people-to-people programs.

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Journalist and Media Visa (I)

The media visa (I) is for “representatives of the foreign media,” such as reporters, film crews, editors and persons in similar occupations, traveling temporarily to the United States to engage in their profession.

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Domestic Employee Visa (B1, A3, G5)

This visa type is for domestic employees (including cooks, butlers, chauffeurs, housemaids, and nannies) who accompany or follow their employer to the United States. Specific category of visa depends on the employer’s visa status: if the employer is a diplomat (A1/A2) the domestic employee should apply for an A3 visa; if the employer works at an international organization and holds a G visa, the domestic employee should apply for a G5 visa; if the employer is an American citizen or holds any other non-immigrant visa, the employee should apply for a B1 visa.

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Transit / Crew Visa (C1/D)

A foreign citizen travelling through the United States enroute to a foreign destination requires to have a valid transit visa (C). The crew visa (D) is for crew members serving onboard a sea vessel or aircraft in the United States.

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