A “nonimmigrant” is a person who has been legally admitted to the United States for any valid purpose for a temporary period of time. The United States has a complex system of classifying non-immigrants. Each category is identified by a letter. Each category has its own admission requirements and procedures. These are some of the most important categories:
- B Visitors: These are tourists (B-2) and short-term business visitors (B-1).
- E Traders and Investors: These are business people who come to the U.S. to invest and operate a business, or to engage in international trade.
- F and M Students: These are students who come to the U.S. to study in an academic program at a high school or university (F), or in vocational programs (M).
- H-1B Specialty workers: These are professional workers whose jobs normally require a college degree, such as computer programmers, teachers, doctors, and engineers.
- H-2B Essential Workers: These are usually non-professional workers such as construction workers, fishermen, and ski instructors. They can work only to fill a short-term temporary or seasonal need.
- J Exchange Visitors: These are people who come to the United States as students, interns, teachers, researchers, medical residents, au pairs, camp counselors, and other categories. The purpose of the category is to gain U.S. knowledge and experience to take back to the person’s home country. Some J visitors are subject to a two-year home residency requirement after completing their stay in the United States.
- L Intracompany Transferees: These are employees of foreign companies who come to work for a U.S. affiliate as managers, or to perform work requiring specialized knowledge.
- O and P Artists, Entertainers, Athletes, Scientists, and Businesspeople: These categories require distinguished or outstanding ability.
- R Religious Workers: These are missionaries, pastors, priests, and others providing religious services.
- TN Professional Workers: The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) provides special opportunities for Canadian and Mexican citizens to work in the U.S.