1. Resources
  2. Glossary
  3. Nonimmigrant

A Nonimmigrant is a person with permanent residence outside the U.S. who is admitted to the U.S. for a specific temporary period of time. In short, a nonimmigrant is someone who comes to the United States and intends on leaving, not immigrating. There are more than 20 different categories of nonimmigrant visa classifications which include:

  • Foreign government officials;
  • Visitors for business and for pleasure;
  • Foreign nationals in transit through the United States;
  • Treaty traders and investors;
  • Students;
  • International representatives;
  • Temporary workers and trainees;
  • Representatives of foreign information media;
  • Exchange visitors;
  • Fiancé(e)s of U.S. citizens - Although it is processed similarly to an immigrant visa;
  • Intracompany transferees;
  • NATO officials; and
  • Religious workers.

Most nonimmigrants can be accompanied or joined by spouses and unmarried minor (or dependent) children.

To obtain and maintain a nonimmigrant status, the foreign national needs to establish "nonimmigrant intent" to come to the United States. For example, many tourist visa denials are due to the consular officer not being convinced that the alien has nonimmigrant intent. Once a person arrives in the U.S. with nonimmigrant visa, they are only allowed to do what that visa category stipulates.

Applying for a nonimmigrant visa while an immigrant visa is pending

Immigrant visas take much longer time than nonimmigrant visas to process. It is very common for a spousal visa beneficiary to try to come to the U.S. to visit their family before the green card arrives. However, with an ongoing immigrant visa application, it will be harder to prove the nonimmigrant intent. And based on the history of nonimmigrant overstays, especially from high overstay countries, proving nonimmigrant intent is more difficult, and almost always denied. And even you have been issued a nonimmigrant visa, the immigrant officer at a port or entry might still deny your entry and turn you away at the port of entry.

However, immigrant intent is not the only factor a consular officer will consider in the visa interview. If you have good employment and financial ties with your home country and you are able to demonstrate a strong reason which you are visiting for, there is still a chance you get approved.