How Do I Get a Temporary Visa?

US immigration laws allow persons born in foreign countries to enter the U.S. temporarily as tourists, to do business, to attend school, to be employed, and to engage in a variety of other activities.

Temporary visas are identified by a letter of the alphabet followed by a hyphen and a number. For example, several million people visit the U.S. each year as “B-2” tourists. Many thousands of “F-1” academic students and “M-1” vocational students attend schools and universities. Between 50,000 and 65,000 persons are granted temporary “H-1B” professional working visas annually.

Temporary visas are also known as “nonimmigrant” visas. They are issued by U.S. Embassies and Consulates located around the world. U.S. consular officers presume that you intend to stay permanently in the U.S. unless you can demonstrate through strong ties to your home country that you will not remain in the U.S. after the expiration of your authorized stay.

If your application is approved, the consular officer will affix a visa to your passport. The visa contains your photograph as well as other identifying information. Nonimmigrant visas expire after a certain period of time and may be valid for one or more entries into the U.S.

The issuance of a visa does not guarantee that you will be admitted into the U.S. The INS Immigration Inspector at the airport decides whether to admit you into the U.S. and for how long. You can be denied admission if you have a conviction for criminal mischief. If the Immigration Inspector denies you admission, you have the right to request a Coram Nobis hearing before an Immigration Judge. The Judge has the authority to overrule the Immigration Inspector.