Temporary Visas: Visitors and Students


  1. B-2 Visitor- must be coming to the U.S. for tourism. Length of visit is determined on each visit at the port of entry, but can be granted for up to six months. This status can be extended.
  2. Visa Waiver- must be coming to the U.S. to visit for pleasure or business. If person is a national of certain countries, he or she does not need a visa, but applies on the Department of State ESTA website for permission to enter the U.S. for 90 days. This status cannot be extended. https://esta.cbp.dhs.gov/esta/
  3. Canadians can enter simply by showing their passport and can usually stay for six months.
The B-1 status is for visitors coming to the U.S. with a business purpose. It is typically granted for a very short duration, usually 1-3 months, and the visitor must have the intent to return to his or her home country immediately after their visit. Permitted activities include:
  1. Engaging in commercial transactions which do not involve gainful employment in the United States (such as a merchant who takes orders for goods manufactured abroad)
  2. Negotiating contracts
  3. Consulting with business associates
  4. Engaging in litigation
  5. Participating in scientific, educational, professional or business conventions, conferences, or seminars
  6. Independent research
  7. Merely and exclusively observing the conduct of business or professional activity
Using B-1 status in lieu of H-1B status is lawful only if all of the following circumstances are met:
  1. The individual must be an employee of an overseas corporation, and
  2. The individual will be here for a short time and intends to return home very soon. S/he cannot abandon his residence abroad, and
  3. The individual qualifies for H-1B status and the services s/he will perform require at least a Bachelor's degree, and
  4. The individual is paid no salary from a U.S. source (incidental travel expenses are OK), and
  5. The services the individual will perform are necessary to the integrated international production, marketing, and service system of the FOREIGN corporation and its subsidiaries and affiliates, and so do not involve the reassignment of an alien to an employer in the U.S.
Other parts of the regulations state that engaging in business as contemplated for B-1 visa classification generally entails business activities other than the performance of skilled or unskilled labor, and the issuance of a B-1 visa is not intended for the purpose of obtaining and engaging in employment in the United States

F-1 and J-1 Students

The academic student must apply to a school program and be issued an I-20 form in order to apply for a student visa outside the U.S. or change status to student in the U.S.
  1. Must intend to return to home country after completing educational program
  2. Must show ability to pay for tuition and expenses (can have sponsor)
  3. Must maintain full-time student status at all times
  4. Can transfer schools with permission from both schools
  5. Has 60 day grace period to leave the U.S. after program completion
  6. Can usually obtain employment authorization after completing a degree program (Optional Practical Training (OPT)
    1. Must apply with the aid of the International Student Advisor at their school
    2. Not tied to a specific employer
    3. Usually for twelve months after graduation
    4. Can sometimes be during the school year (Curricular PT)
    5. Can get an additional 17 months of OPT if
      1. applicant has a degree in certain math and science fields (called a STEM degree), and
      2. the employer registers with e-Verify, a Department of Homeland Security and Social Security system that confirms employees’ right to work
    6. If can apply for H-1B before F-1 status expires, OPT extended until H-1B starts on October 1
The academic student must apply to a school program, then obtain DS-7002 from program sponsor and apply for a visa outside the U.S.
  1. Must intend to return to the home country after completing educational program
  2. Must be financed by the U.S. government, home country government, or other source of funds that is not family or personal
  3. Must have a sponsoring organization
  4. Must apply for a visa abroad
  5. May be subject to requirement to return to home country for two years before they can change to an employment-based status or green card, however they can change to O-1 status
  6. When about to complete a degree program, may be able to obtain Academic Practical Training employment authorization
  7. Sometimes spouses can obtain work authorization during the J-1 period of stay
  8. J-1s have a 30 day grace period to leave the U.S. after program completion

Please note: You should treat this information as a guide for discussion with an attorney. Processes and regulations change constantly. There may be issues not mentioned here which affect the approach, timing, and success of your case.