Frequently asked questions
B-1: Temporary Business Visitor Visa
For foreign workers participating in commercial or professional business activities in the US (i.e. consulting, conference attendance, negotiating a contract, or short-term training). Maximum stay: 6 months, with 6-month renewal. Cannot earn an income on this visa. No cap. No deadline. Learn more
E-3: Certain Specialty Occupation Professionals from Australia
For nationals of the Australia. Requires US job offer in a professional “specialty occupation” and a Bachelor’s degree or equivalent. Valid up to 2 years with indefinite extensions. More information
ESTA: Electronic System for Travel Authorization
ESTA is not a visa. It does not meet the legal requirements to serve in lieu of a U.S. visa when a visa is required. Travelers that possess a valid U.S. visa may travel to the United States on that visa for the purpose it was issued. Travelers traveling on valid visas are not required to apply for an ESTA. In the same way that a valid visa does not guarantee admission to the United States, an approved ESTA is not a guarantee of admission to the United States.
According to UCSIS, ESTA is an automated system used to determine the eligibility of visitors to travel to the United States under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) and whether such travel poses any law enforcement or security risk. ESTA approval authorizes a traveler to board a carrier for travel to the United States under the VWP. Private carriers must be a signatory visa waiver program carrier. CBP recommends that you apply for ESTA at the time you book your travel, but no less than 72 hours prior to boarding.
ESTA became mandatory January 12, 2009. VWP applicants are required to complete a blue Customs declaration upon arrival in the U.S. whether or not they have an ESTA authorization. VWP travelers are no longer required to complete the green I-94W card.
Approved ESTA applications are valid for a period of two years, or until the passport expires, whichever comes first, and multiple trips to the United States without the traveler having to re-apply for another ESTA. When traveling to the U.S. with the approved ESTA, you may only stay for up to 90 days at a time - and there should be a reasonable amount of time between visits so that the CBP Officer does not think you are trying to live here. There is no set requirement for how long you must wait between visits.
Travelers whose ESTA applications are approved, but whose passports will expire in less than two years, will receive an ESTA valid until the passport's expiration date.
H-1B: Visas for Temporary Workers
For foreign workers in specialty occupations that require theoretical or technical expertise in specialized fields. Initial Stay: 3 years, with 3-year renewal. Availability: 85,000 visas annually, subject to lottery. Each year, apply on April 1 to commence work in October. Requires job offer from a US employer + US Bachelor’s degree/foreign equivalent. Employer may sponsor employee for Green Card. Special H-1B1 for Chilean & Singaporean citizens. Learn more or watch
H-2B: Temporary non-agricultural workers
Allows U.S. employers who meet specific regulatory requirements to bring foreign nationals to the U.S. to fill temporary non-agricultural jobs. Involves a multi-step process, which requires employer to submit temporary labor application and prospective workers to apply for H-2B visa at U.S. Applicants apply in October or April at a U.S. Consulate or embassy. Spouse and unmarried children may also seek admission but cannot work while in the U.S. Capped at 66,000 per fiscal year.
J-1: Exchange Visitors
For cultural exchange visitors, scholars, and professors participating in exchange programs designated by the Department of State. Will work for “host” organization and be sponsored by third-party “sponsor.” Subject to a 2-year home country foreign residency requirement; involves specialized knowledge or skills or graduate medical training. No cap.
L-1A: Intracompany Transferee Executive or Manager
Enables a US employer to transfer an Executive or Manager from one of its affiliated foreign offices to one of its offices in the US. Maximum stay: 1 year to establish new office. All other qualified employees: initial 3-year stay + 2-year extensions, up to 7 years. Must show applicant worked for the company outside of the US for 1 continuous year out of last 3 years. No cap.
L-1B: Intracompany Transferee Specialized Knowledge
Enables a US employer to transfer a professional employee with specialized knowledge of organization’s product, service, research, equipment, techniques, or management, or organization’s processes and procedures to new or existing US office. Maximum Stay: 1 year to establish new office/all others: initial stay of 3 years; renewal of 1-2 years (max 5 years). Employer may sponsor for Green Card. Learn more
TN NAFTA Professionals
The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) Permits Canadian & Mexican citizens to engage in business activities for qualified professions. Requires proof of Canadian or Mexican citizenship, job offer letter from employer, credentials evaluation, and applicable fees. Must be renewed every three years; can be renewed indefinitely as long as the employee qualifies for the visa. Learn more
A Nonimmigrant Visa is a temporary immigration classification for a specific period of time. It is issued by a U.S. consulate or embassy, and permits a foreign national to enter the United States for a set, temporary period of time to take part in a specific activity. Examples of nonimmigrant visas include: B-1/B-2 Visitor Visas, H-1B “Specialty Occupation” Visas, L-1A
Multinational Executive/Manager Visas, TN “Professional” Visas for citizens of Canada and Mexico, E-3 visas for citizens of Australia, and F-1 Student Visas.
Certain nonimmigrant visas, such as employment-based visas, require a U.S.-based employer tofirst file a nonimmigrant petition (Form I-129) with United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Once a petition is approved, the foreign national beneficiary can apply for the nonimmigrant visa at a U.S. consulate or embassy, or a change status if he or she is already residing in the U.S. in a valid immigration status.