Individuals seeking to enter the United States from other countries may do so for a variety of reasons, but no matter their reason, each requires a visa to do so legally. U.S. Customs and Border Protection notes that there are two kinds of visas, immigrant and non-immigrant, with each designed for different types of people.

Those who seek a non-immigrant visa must meet a few requirements before they can earn such a document, and learning these beforehand can streamline the process for entering the United States.

The purpose of a non-immigrant visa

Non-immigrant visas differ from immigrant visas in several ways; however, the main purpose of this document is to allow foreign nationals to enter the country on a temporary basis. They may wish to visit for a variety of reasons, including:

  • Medical treatment
  • Tourism
  • Business needs

Some individuals may also enter the country on a non-immigrant visa with the intent to work on a temporary basis. Unlike an immigrant visa, though, it does not allow the holder to remain in the United States on a permanent basis.

Contacting the embassy

The first step to applying for a non-immigrant visa is to contact the United States embassy and request the document, as well as reveal the reason for the travel. Depending on the reason for the request, non-immigrants may have to fill out a few other forms to fulfill it and receive the visa.

Requesting visa-free travel

Individuals from certain countries may apply for visa-free travel under certain conditions. For example, those wishing to enter the United States for tourism reasons or to attend international business gatherings may do so, as long as they have proof of their intent to leave the U.S. before 90 days.

Once individuals receive their non-immigrant visa, they may not alter it or file for immigration status. They must return to their country of origin before attempting to change their status.