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Visa Types – Temporary Visa General Requirements

There are several categories of nonimmigrant temporary visas, and which type is granted depends upon the purpose of an alien’s visit. Examples of temporary visas include visas for U.S. citizen spouses and children, visas for U.S. lawful permanent resident spouses and children, travel visas for business or pleasure, visas for temporary workers, visas for students and exchange visitors, and visas for victims of trafficking in persons. These categories of nonimmigrant visas share basic eligibility requirements.

Who Is Eligible?

An alien who wishes to secure a nonimmigrant visa must meet both the general requirements for temporary visas and the specific criteria for the visa type he or she is requesting. The specific criteria are discussed in separate documents for each temporary visa type, and the general requirements are discussed here.

Admissibility Or Waiver Of Inadmissibility

Certain categories of aliens are always ineligible for visas, including those who practice polygamy; who have certain communicable diseases, such as AIDS and tuberculosis; who traffic in drugs; and who advocate the overthrow of the U.S. government. The submission of fraudulent documents will also disqualify an alien from obtaining a visa. If classification as inadmissible is the only reason an alien would be denied a visa, he or she may be eligible for a waiver of inadmissibility, depending upon the reason he or she is inadmissible.

Other General Requirements

In addition to either being admissible or obtaining a waiver of any inadmissibility, eligibility for a temporary visa turns on the following general criteria: (1) the purpose of the alien’s visit must be temporary; (2) the alien must agree to leave the U.S. when his or her authorization has expired; (3) the alien must have a valid passport; and (4) the alien must otherwise agree to the terms of his or her admission and must abide by those terms. Additionally, the alien may be required to maintain a foreign residence and to prove that he or she has financial support for the length of the stay.

What Are The Terms Of My Stay?

As with the general eligibility requirements, most of the terms of a temporary visa differ based on the visa type requested by the alien. However, two of the more general terms are discussed here: extensions of stays and changes of nonimmigrant status. This information applies to most of the temporary visa types, but an alien should read about the specific visa type in which he or she is interested to see if the requirements differ for that category.

Extensions Of Stay

Aliens holding some categories of temporary visas are not eligible to extend their stay by virtue of their visa type alone. However, if an alien’s visa type is eligible for extension, the alien may request an extension of his or her stay if he or she submits the request before his or her current visa expires and if he or she has not committed an act that would render him or her ineligible for an extension.

Changes of Status

As with extensions of stay, some visa types render their holders ineligible to change their status. As long as the visa type may be eligible for a change of status, however, the alien may request a change in status if he or she is eligible for the visa type requested and if he or she has not committed any act that would prevent a change of status.

Copyright 2011 LexisNexis, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc.

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