How long can someone stay in the U.S. on a temporary (non-immigrant) visa?
One common question regarding traveling to the United States is how long can someone stay in the U.S. on a temporary (non-immigrant) visa?
Is it determined by the date of the visa issuance that you received at the American Embassy/Consulate or is it based on the date that you enter the U.S.?
Furthermore, what determines that exact date by which you must depart the United States?
Each category of non-immigrant U.S. visa (temporary visa) has its own rules for how long a foreigner is permitted to stay on U.S. soil.
Keep reading to learn answers to these and other questions about temporary non-immigrant U.S. visas!
Table of Contents
What is the duration of stay in the U.S. with a temporary visa?
As the name implies, a temporary non-immigrant U.S. visa allows a foreign national to stay in the USA for a limited amount of time, as specified in the visa.
This is in contrast to an U.S. immigrant visa which, along with a Green Card, allows a Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR) of the United States to live, study and work in the USA for an unlimited amount of time.
How long a person can stay in the U.S. with a temporary non-immigrant visa depends on the type of U.S. visa, the reason for staying in the USA and other factors.
For example, a B-1/B-2 Visitor Visa to the U.S. may be valid for up to six months, while an H-1B Work Visa may be valid for up to three years.
In addition to how long a temporary U.S. visa is valid for, a related issue is whether or not the visa can be renewed, what the criteria are for renewal and how long the U.S. visa can be renewed for.
A temporary legal resident of the United States must leave the U.S. before his or her non-immigrant visa expires or renew the visa before the expiration date or apply for and receive adjustment of status from temporary resident to permanent resident while the visa is still valid.
What are the different types of temporary U.S. visas?
There are many different types of temporary non-immigrant U.S. visas, such as the:
- B-1 Business Visitor Visa – issued to allow a foreign business person to stay in the U.S. for business purposes (but not to work), such as to negotiate a contract, attend a convention or conference, receive or provide training, etc. The B-1 Visa is normally issued for up to 6 months, but it could be valid for up to 10 years, however, the business visitor would be permitted to stay in the USA for up to 6 months each year during the 10-year period.
- B-2 Visitor Visa – issued to allow tourists to visit the U.S. on vacation and/or to visit family or friends living in the USA or to have medical treatment in the United States. The B-2 Visa is usually issued for up to 6 months, but it could be valid for up to 10 years, however, the visitor would be permitted to stay in the USA for up to 6 months per year during the 10-year period.
- B-1/B-2 Business/Tourism Visa – is a combination temporary U.S. visa that allows a foreign business person to conduct business (but not work) in the USA and also to vacation as a tourist and/or visit family or friends living in the USA. The B-1/B-2 Business/Tourism Visa is normally issued for up to 6 months, but it could be valid for up to 10 years, however, the visitor would be permitted to stay in the USA for up to 6 months each year during the 10-year period.
- E-1 Treaty Trader Visa – is issued initially for up to 2 years and allows a citizen of a country that has a treaty of navigation and commerce with the United States who will engage in substantial trade between the two countries to live in the USA in order to conduct trade. This non-immigrant temporary U.S. visa is renewable.
- E-2 Treaty Investor Visa – is issued for up to 2 years to a citizen of a country that has a treaty of navigation and commerce with the United States who will make a sizeable investment in a genuine business in the United States that provides products or services for a profit. This temporary non-immigrant U.S. visa is renewable.
- F-1 Student Visa – is issued for up to 5 years (depending on the length of the program) to international students who will attend full-time an eligible academic institution in the USA, such as a high school, college or university. The spouse and dependent children of the international student who is applying for the F-1 Student Visa can apply for the F-2 Visa for family members.
- M-1 Student Visa – is issued for up to 1 year to allow an international student to attend a vocational school (for example, to learn a skilled trade). The spouse and dependent children of the international student who is applying for the M-1 Student Visa can apply for the M-2 Visa for family members.
- H-1B Specialty Occupation Work Visa – is a non-immigrant temporary work visa to the U.S. which is issued to skilled foreign workers with specialty occupations that usually require a university degree (such as engineers, information technology professionals, etc.) who have been sponsored by an employer in the United States and it is valid for up to 3 years and can be renewed for up to an additional 3 years (for a total of 6 years). Furthermore, eligible H-1B Visa holders can apply for adjustment of status from temporary legal resident to Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR) Green Card holder! The spouse and dependent children of the foreign worker can apply for the H-4 Visa for family members.
- I Work Visa for International Media – is a non-immigrant temporary work visa to the U.S. which is issued to international media professionals (such as members of the foreign press and radio, television or film professionals) who have an office outside of the United States who will be working in the U.S. and this visa is normally valid for the time that they will be working in the USA. Their eligible family can apply for the relevant U.S. visa for I-Visa holder family members.
- L-1 Work Visa for Intracompany Transferees – is a non-immigrant temporary work visa to the U.S. that is issued to foreign professionals of companies with offices outside of the United States who will be transferring to an existing office in the U.S. or who will be opening a branch office in the USA. The L-1A Visa is for managers or executives, while the L-1B Visa is for foreign workers with specialized knowledge. The L-1A Visa and L-1B Visa are issued for up to 1 year for those who are opening a new branch office in the United States, but transferees to an existing branch office in the U.S. can receive the visa for up to 3 years. The L-Visa is renewable to eligible foreign workers.
- O-Visa for Individuals with Extraordinary Abilities – the O-1A U.S. Visa is issued to eligible foreign nationals with extraordinary abilities in athletics, business, education or science, while the O-1B Visa is granted to qualified foreign nationals with extraordinary abilities in the arts or extraordinary achievement in the film and television industry. The O-1A and O-1B visas can be issued for up to 3 years and can be extended for one year at a time if the foreign worker qualifies. The spouse and dependent children of the O-Visa holder can apply for the relevant U.S. visa for family members.
Please note that there are several other temporary non-immigrant U.S. visas available for artists, diplomats, entertainers, exchange visitors, religious workers and other categories of visitors.
What Happens If You Overstay Your Temporary Visa?
It is very important for you to remain in status regarding your U.S. visa and not overstay your temporary visa; otherwise, you will be in violation of the law, your U.S. visa could be cancelled, and you could be deported from the United States and prohibited from entering the USA for up to 10 years.
The consequences for overstaying your temporary U.S. visa will depend on how long you stayed in the USA after your visa expired and the circumstances that were involved.
In many cases, there will be no issue when departing the United States, however, there might be a problem when trying to re-enter the USA in the future, again, depending on the length and circumstances of the overstay.
Therefore, be aware of the expiration date on your temporary U.S. visa and apply with USCIS for renewal far enough in advance to avoid any unnecessary complications that could jeopardize your ability to stay in the USA.
The United States welcomes millions of visitors every year and issues them various types of temporary non-immigrant U.S. visas based on their reason(s) for visiting the USA, such as:
- Medical Treatment
- Study Abroad
Each temporary non-immigrant U.S. visa serves a specific purpose, has its own eligibility requirements and unique application procedure.
How can you know which of the many U.S. visa options is right for you?
Which U.S. visa program are you eligible to apply for?
Since 2001, USAFIS has been offering beneficial services to thousands of people around the world who want to live in the USA for an unlimited amount of time with a U.S. Permanent Resident Visa and Green Card or for a limited length of time with a non-immigrant temporary U.S. visa.
USAFIS offers a U.S Visa Assessment which will analyze your relevant details and inform you about which particular visa(s) to the USA you are best-suited to apply for.
Additional services are also available to help make your relocation to the United States go as smoothly as possible.
To learn more about your U.S. visa options, click here!
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ’s)
It is possible to stay in the USA for up to 6 months every year with a B-1/B-2 Visitor Visa. The B-1/B-2 Visitor Visa can be valid for up to 10 years, however, you are generally permitted to stay in the USA for up to 6 months each year during that 10 year period.
Yes, if you overstay your temporary non-immigrant U.S. visa, your visa could be cancelled, you might have to pay a fine, you could be deported from the United States and you could be banned from entering the USA for 3 years, 10 years or another length of time. Furthermore, you could jeopardize future opportunities you might have for U.S. immigration. The penalty (if any) will depend on the length and circumstances of your overstay. Therefore, you should always keep your status current and contact USCIS far enough in advance if you need to apply for an extension of your U.S. visa or have some other immigration matter to address.
You should not overstay your temporary non-immigrant U.S. visa; however, you are unlikely to experience any major issues if your visa overstay is 180 days or less. Nonetheless, if you apply for a U.S. visa in the future, a long overstay (even if it is less than 180 days) could prevent you from being approved for re-entry into the United States, whereas a brief overstay may not cause any problems or delays. Whatever the length of your overstay, if you apply for a U.S. visa in the future, you may still have to explain why you remained in the United States after your U.S. visa expired.
Yes, the holder of an H-1B Work Visa, which is a dual-intent visa, who meets the eligibility criteria can apply with USCIS for adjustment of status from temporary legal U.S. resident to lawful permanent resident (LPR) of the United States and receive a Green Card if approved.
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