The majority of visitors and potential immigrants to the U.S. apply for and receive visas in roughly five or six categories: business (B1), tourist (B2), investor (E), student (F or J), and ‘priority workers’ (EB). However, the United States has over 30 different types of non-immigrant visas alone, with the immigrant visa categories pushing the total to over 100. Depending on your situation, you may be better suited to apply for a more specific type of visa that fits your individual needs.
Many people who intend to conduct some kind of professional activity in the United States and do not intend to remain apply for a simple business visa, a B1/B2, which is a combination business and tourist visa that can be customized by the consulate granting it. Depending on factors such as nationality, ties to one’s home country, and documentation regarding the reason for the visit, B1/B2 visas can be granted for single, double or multiple entries, as well as for varying lengths of time; the maximum is usually one year, though a six-month extension may be available.
However, there are visa categories for non-immigrants who hold special jobs, and it is actually frowned upon to apply for a general visa when a specific one is more applicable. (Applying in the wrong category generally does not render one inadmissible, unless it can be proved that one’s intentions were fraudulent.)
Some of the most common visas for those with unusual jobs are:
Aside from the visa categories designed for those in specific employments, there are other non-immigrant visa categories designed for people with special and/or unusual skills. The most common category of visa in this group is the O visa.
O visas are given to foreign nationals with extraordinary abilities in sciences, arts, education, business or athletics, or the motion picture industry, depending if other requirements can be fulfilled. To obtain an O visa, a person must demonstrate extraordinary ability “by national or international acclaim.” An Olympic athlete, for example, might be able to obtain an O visa if he or she was coming to the U.S. to run a marathon.
Another category for athletes and entertainers does exist—the P visa—but there are significant differences between the two. The criteria for the O visa are stricter, while the P visa does not require national or international acclaim; nor does it require ‘extraordinary’ ability. O visas also generally allow the holder to stay longer than that of a P visa.
Contact an Immigration Attorney
If you need help with your visa application, the Chicago immigration attorneys at Mevorah Law Offices LLC can help you make sure everything is in order. Contact us for a consultation today.
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