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You are here: Information Center >> Immigration & Citizenship >> Entering The United States As a Nonimmigrant

Entering The United States As a Nonimmigrant

What is the difference between immigrant and nonimmigrant status?

Whereas an "immigrant" is in the country on a permanent resident status, a "nonimmigrant" is a temporary resident. A nonimmigrant temporarily enters the United States for a specific purpose such as business, study or pleasure. The immigration laws place numerical limits on some categories of these workers. Some nonimmigrant visitors come for express purpose of work; others are not allowed to work. Fiancés and foreign spouses can also enter the United States on a nonimmigrant status.

What do all nonimmigrant visa applications require?

Certain forms are required regardless of whether you are entering the United States as a tourist, businessperson or student. These include:

  1. a signed and completed Form DS-156, Nonimmigrant Visa Application;
  2. a current, valid passport or travel document;
  3. a 2x2 inch passport-type photograph;
  4. application fees—all applicants must pay the application fee;
  5. evidence of funds to cover expenses in the United States;
  6. evidence of compelling social and economic ties abroad to show an intent not to stay in America; and
  7. a Form DS-157, Supplemental Nonimmigrant Visa Application, for men between 16 and 45 years of age, and for all applicants age 16 and over who are from Cuba, Iran, Iraq, Libya, North Korea, Sudan and Syria.

As with all visas, a visitor visa allows you to travel to a port-of-entry and ask permission from a U.S. Immigration Inspector for entry into the United States.

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