Temporary Visas are referred to as “Non-immigrant Visas” by the U.S. government. Non-immigrant visas are granted for a limited duration of time. Unless the non-immigrant visa is for employment, generally a non-immigrant visa holder cannot work, and doing so makes him/her deportable. Many lawful permanent residents first entered the U.S. with a non-immigrant visa and later became eligible to apply for lawful permanent residency. Typically, applicants receive their first non-immigrant visa at a U.S. consulate or embassy abroad. Most non-immigrant visas require a showing by the applicant of no intent to permanently immigrate to the U.S. They must show permanent residence in their home country and they have no intention of abandoning their residence abroad. For this reason, especially in the case of a visitor visa, applicants from developing countries are more likely to be denied with little process for review. Consular interviewers have wide discretion to approve or deny non-immigrant visas. However, a few of the non-immigrant visa categories allow the intent to immigrate including the K-1 fiancé visa, and the employment based H-1 or L-1 visas.
Some non-immigrant visas begin with an application directly to the U.S. consulate in the applicant’s home country, such as the B-1/B-2 visitor visa. Other non-immigrant visas begin with an application directly to an application processing service center in the U.S. and after approval the case is then transferred to the U.S. consulate for an interview. Typically, Canadians, citizens of countries under the Visa Waiver Pilot Program, and Mexicans with Border Crossing Cards do not require a non-immigrant visa to enter the United States.
Overstaying a non-immigrant visa can have serious ramifications. Overstaying more than 180 days and then leaving the U.S., will trigger a 3 year bar to reapplying for a visa to reenter the U.S. Overstaying a non-immigrant visa more than 364 days and then leaving the U.S., will trigger a 10 year bar to reapplying for a visa to reenter the U.S. Once the non-citizen overstayed an aggregate of 365 days and then leaves the U.S., re-entering the U.S. without a valid visa triggers the permanent bar to applying for a visa to enter the U.S. In limited circumstances, there may be a waiver allowing the person to reapply sooner.