Temporary, also called nonimmigrant, visas are for foreign nationals who want to be in the U.S. for limited time and a limited purpose. One of the most common reasons that temporary visa applications are denied is that the U.S. government presumes that the foreign nationals have “immigrant intent,” i.e., that they intend to stay in the United States permanently instead of departing and returning to their home countries when their visas expire.
The process for the foreign national Beneficiaries coming to the U.S. for temporary work generally begins with a U.S. employer who wants to hire a foreign national performing visa-specific tasks, filing a visa petition package (which generally includes the I-129 Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker and other forms and supporting documentation) for the foreign worker and the worker’s qualifying family members. Once that petition has been approved and visas are available, the Petitioner/employer or Beneficiary files a visa application package (which generally includes the DS-160 Nonimmigrant Visa Application along with others forms and supporting documentation.) Typically, the primary Beneficiary and his or her family members will undergo an interview appointment, after which they will find out if the application will be approved or denied.
- There are several types of temporary foreign workers and multiple provisions about the types of family members who may accompany them; even people who fit into categories will still have to meet other requirements.
Many of the following visas are for family members to accompany foreign nationals coming to the U.S. for temporary work. Because the family member’s visa “derives” from the corresponding work / study / other visa, the family member’s visa can only be issued if:
- The primary work / study / other visa can be issued, and
- There is sufficient proof of the qualifying relationship between the person with the primary work / study / other visa and the family member requesting the derivative visa.
Derivative Nonimmigrant Visas
- E-1 and E-2 Visas:
- Derive from E-1 and E-2 Visas for Treaty Traders, Treaty Investors, and Their Employees, and as such are generally for the spouse and unmarried minor children of E-1 and E-2 work Visa holders.
- F-2 Visas:
- Derive from F-1 Visas for students in an academic or language training programs, and as such are generally for the spouse and unmarried minor children of F-1 Visa holders.
- H-4 Visas:
- Derive from H-1B, H-1B1, H-2A, H-2B, and H-3 Visas for Temporary Workers, and as such are generally for the spouse and unmarried minor children of holders of any of those H Visas.
- J-2 Visas:
- Derive from J-1 Visas for Exchange Visitors, and as such are generally for the spouse and unmarried minor children of J-1 Visa holders.
- K Visas:
- For certain family members of U.S. citizens and are good for short one-time entries to the U.S.:
- K-1: fiancé(e) of a U.S. citizen
- K-2: children of the K-1 fiancé(e)
- K-3: spouse of a U.S. citizen (often those awaiting availability of an immigrant visa)
- K-4: children of the K-3 spouse
- For certain family members of U.S. citizens and are good for short one-time entries to the U.S.:
- L-2 Visas:
- Derive from L-1 Visas for Intracompany Transferees, and as such are generally for the spouse and unmarried minor children of L-1 Visa holders.
- M-2 Visas:
- Derive from M-1 Visas for Vocational or other Non-academic Students, and as such are generally for the spouse and unmarried minor children of M-1 Visa holders.
- O-3 Visas:
- Derive from O-1 Visas for foreign nationals with extraordinary Ability in Sciences, Arts, Education, Business or Athletics, and O-2 Visas for foreign nationals who accompany and assist in the artistic or athletic performance by O-1, and as such, O-3 Visas are generally for the spouse and unmarried minor children of O-1 or O-2 Visa holders.
- R-2 Visas:
- Derive from R-1 Visas for foreign nationals in religious occupations, and as such are generally for the spouse and unmarried minor children of R-1 Visa holders.
- TD Visas:
- Derive from TN Visas for NAFTA professionals, and as such are generally for the spouse and unmarried minor children of TN Visa holders.
- V Visas:
- For the spouses, unmarried children under 21 years old, and unmarried step-children under 21 years old of Permanent Residents who have already filed I-130 Petitions for these family members. V Visas allow the family to be together while the non-Permanent Resident family members wait for their immigrant visas to be processed.
- General requirements for V Visas:
- Permanent Resident filed Form I-130 Petition for the family member (or family members) on or before December 21, 2000; or
- It has been at least 3 years since Permanent Resident filed Form I-130 Petition for the family member(s); or
- The family members’ Form I-130 petitions have been approved but immigrant visas are not available yet; or
- The application to adjust status is pending; or
- The petition for immigrant visa is pending.
Follow STEPS 2-7 in the Temporary Work Visas section and enter accompanying family member information where necessary.
The U.S. Citizen (Petitioner) will file a Form I-129F Petition on the Fiancé(e) (Beneficiary’s) behalf. All directions should be followed very carefully, and Petitioners and Beneficiaries should always make and keep copies of everything they send the government. The I-129F Petition package must be filed with the USCIS office that serves the citizen’s geographical area.
An I-129F Petition package must contain many important items, generally including:
- Form I-129F Petition for Alien Fiancé(e)
- Copies of supporting documents: Generally, photocopies of civil documents may be submitted in the application. Required documents may include:
- Birth Certificates of Petitioner and Beneficiary
- Passport biographic data pages of Petitioner and Beneficiary
- Passport-style photographs of Petitioner and Beneficiary taken within past 30 days
- Proof that Petitioner and Beneficiary have met in person within the past two years
- Proof that Petitioner and Beneficiary have a bona fide intent to marry
- Evidence of Petitioner’s criminal history (if any) to give to Beneficiary
- Proof that U.S. Petitioner and Beneficiary are both legally able and willing to get married in the U.S. within 90 days of when the fiancé(e) enters the U.S.
- If Beneficiary intends to bring his or her own children who are unmarried and under 21 years old (they could be eligible for K-2 visas), they must be included in Beneficiary’s petition
- And more
- Form G-325A, Biographic Data Sheet (for applicants between the ages of 14 and 79)
- Payment of appropriate processing fees, generally one for the visa application and one for the Affidavit of Support
After USCIS approves the Petition, the National Visa Center will send the case to the appropriate U.S. Embassy or Consulate, and at the same time it will notify Petitioner about having Beneficiary begin the process to obtain a nonimmigrant visa via a DS-160Nonimmigrant Visa Application online. Wait times vary by location, season, and visa category.
A DS-160 Nonimmigrant Visa Application must contain a great deal of important information about Beneficiary, generally including:
- Receipt number from the approved I-129 petition
- Current and previous names
- Passport number, visa number
- Mother’s Full Name, Date of Birth
- Father’s Full Name, Date of Birth
- Address of intended U.S. residence
- Flight information
- Dates of previous visits to U.S.
- Information (name, address, email, phone number) of contact person in U.S. (to verify details)
A Passport-style photograph of Beneficiary must be submitted with the Application
The confirmation page must be printed and brought to Petitioner and Beneficiary’s interview
Notes for K visa applicants:
Eligible children of K-1 visa applicants may apply for K-2 visas. Separate applications must be submitted for each K visa applicant, and each K visa applicant must pay the visa application fee.
- Beneficiary will need to schedule a Visa Interview appointment; it will generally occur at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in the country where Beneficiary lives
- Pay and get a receipt for the non-refundable visa application fee (usually required to be paid before the interview)
- Check for any special interview &/or document instructions that pertain to the U.S. Embassy or Consulate at which Beneficiary will be applying and be interviewed, and review them carefully
- Gather supporting documents for visa interview:
- Confirmation page of Form DS-160 Nonimmigrant Visa Application
- Passport valid for travel to the United States for at least six months beyond Beneficiary’s period of stay in the United States (unless exempt by country-specific agreements)
- Receipt Number for approved petition as it appears on the I-129 Petition or I-797 Notice of Action
- Receipt for application fee payment, if required to pay it before the interview
- Passport-style photographs of Beneficiary that meets format requirements if the online photo upload failed
- Evidence of Petitioner and Beneficiary’s relationship
- Proof that Petitioner and Beneficiary are both legally able and willing to get married in the U.S. within 90 days of when the fiancé(e) enters the U.S.
- Police certificates from Beneficiary present country of residence and all countries where he or she has lived for six months or more since age 16 (Police certificates are also required for accompanying children age 16 or older)
- Applicants will need to schedule, undergo, and obtain the results of a medical examination with an authorized physician prior to the interview appointment. Physicians often will want need to see Beneficiary’s vaccination records at the time of the examination. Examination results should not be opened, and must be brought to the interview appointment unless the physician sends them directly to the appropriate government office.
- Evidence of financial support (Form I-134 Affidavit of Support)
- Attend visa Interview
- During the visa interview, a consular officer will determine whether Beneficiary is qualified to receive the visa being applied for
- Ink-free, digital fingerprint scans will be taken at some point in the application process
- If an application requires further administrative processing, the consular officer will tell Beneficiary after the visa interview.
- If and when the visa is approved, Beneficiary may have to pay a visa issuance fee (if applicable to Beneficiary’s nationality) and will be told how his or her passport with visa will be returned or available for pick-up.
- It is important to remember that a visa does not guarantee entry into the U.S.; government officials at the port-of-entry have the authority to permit or deny admission. If Beneficiary is allowed to enter the U.S., she or he will receive an admission stamp or paper Form I-94, Arrival/Departure Record.
- If the visa is denied, in most cases the consular officer notifies the applicant of the applicable section of law and if the applicant may apply for a waiver of their ineligibility.
- Common reasons for denial are belief that the relationship is fraudulent, incomplete application or supporting documentation, fraud or misrepresentation, and previous unlawful presence in the U.S.
- In the case of K visas, Petitioner and Beneficiary must get married within 90 days of Beneficiary’s arrival in the U.S., after which Beneficiary will need to apply to adjust status. K visas automatically expire after 90 days and cannot be extended. If Petitioner and Beneficiary do not marry within this time, Beneficiary must leave the U.S.; otherwise he or she will be breaking the law which could result in deportation and could affect future ability to enter the country.
- A person in the U.S. on a K visa often will be better of filing a Form I-765 Application for Employment Authorization at the same time he or she applies to Adjust Status (Form I-485), but this is something to be discussed with an immigration attorney.
- People in the U.S. on temporary visas, and every other person in the U.S., must follow all Federal, State, and local laws wherever they reside.