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Guide On Non-Immigrant Family US Visas

Guide On Non-Immigrant Family US Visas

A family visa allows someone who is related to an American citizen or a legal permanent resident to immigrate to the United States. We have immigrant and non-immigrant family US visas. Immigrant visas, or green card visas, will give you the right to live and work in the United States as a legal permanent resident. However, the process of applying for an immigrant visa is lengthy.

Non-immigrant visas are another option for family immigration. Non-immigrant visas allow you to enter the United States temporarily. If you want to stay in the United States for the rest of your immigration journey, you can start by applying for a non-immigrant visa.

You can apply for a non-immigrant family US visa for your loved ones so they can come to the United States and proceed with a long-term immigration approval process later. Waiting times are usually shorter for non-immigrant family US visas, and there is no annual limit.

If your non-immigrant family US visa is granted, you can apply for an extension before your permit runs out. Dependents’ request for renewal must be submitted with your application. If your authorized stay runs out before your marriage or if your marriage is dissolved, you have 30 days to leave the United States.

If you meet the requirements, you can still apply for another immigration path, like a worker visa. These types of visas are subject to strict rules, and it is critical to understand the different non-immigrant visa options for bringing your loved ones to the United States.

In this guide, we shall provide useful information on the US visas of non-immigrant families.

Types of family visas in the US

There are several options available when applying for a US family visa. They can be divided into two main categories: immigrant visas and non-immigrant visas. Immigrant visas, also known as green card visas, allow the successful applicant to become a permanent resident of the United States.

On the other hand, US visas for non-immigrant families allow visa holders to accompany or follow their loved ones to the US temporarily. In US immigration law, these are often referred to as derivative visas.

More specifically, a derivative visa is a visa where an applicant is applying for admission to the United States based on an immediate relationship with a principal applicant or principal visa-holder (e.g., a spouse, partner, or parent).

You can apply for a derivative visa concurrently with your spouse or parent under the same category, or you can apply later to join your spouse or parent in the United States.

Depending on your situation, including what you plan to do in the United States and the length of time you plan to remain there, you may be able to apply for an individual visa (e.g., an overseas visitor visa).

Also, if you are a citizen of one of the eligible countries, you may qualify for an ESTA visa waiver, which allows you to visit the US for a maximum of 90 days. Now, let’s look at some of these non-immigrant family US visas.

F-2 visas

This type of non-immigrant family US visa is available to spouses and children under 21 of F-1 visa holders. F-1 visa holders are those studying at a US university. The study could also be at a US college or high school. It also includes those in a US seminary, conservatory, or another academic institution or a language training program.

The F-2 visa holder can’t work or study full-time with this visa. The F-2 visa is among the most common US visas for non-immigrant families. It allows an F-1 visa holder’s spouse or unmarried child to live with the student in the United States as a dependent until the student’s studies are completed.

The dependent can stay in the United States, study part-time, and travel within the US as long as the main applicant still holds the status of F-1. The USCIS does not cap the number of F-2 visas issued annually. Applicants must meet financial and eligibility requirements before applying for an F-2 visa. If they meet the criteria, they will be considered for the visa.

M-2 visas

An M-2 visa is issued to the dependent spouse and unmarried child under 21 years of age of an M-1 visa holder. The M-1 visa holder must be in a recognized vocational or other recognized non-educational institution, except for language training programs. An M-2 visa will not allow you to work or attend a US university, but children can attend school.

J-2 visas

This non-immigrant family US visa is issued to spouses and unmarried children under 21 who are holders of J-1 visas. Those with J-1 visas temporarily live and work in the United States under an exchange visitor program (i.e., intern or exchange student). Under certain circumstances, you can work and study in the United States during the validity period of a J-2 visa.

K-1 visas

This non-immigrant family US visa is issued to a foreign citizen fiancé to immigrate to the United States with the intent to marry a US citizen within 90 days of marriage. If the marriage is not completed within 90 days, the visa holder must leave the US within 30 days.

K-2 visas

This non-immigrant family US visa is for unmarried children under 21 years of age of K-1 visa holders. K-2 visa holders can go to school or work during their stay in the US.

K-3 visas

This is a visa issued to foreign citizen spouses who are legally married outside of the United States and who wish to immigrate to the United States to join their spouse in the United States for a period of two years. This visa is valid for spouses who are not green card holders. One of the requirements for this visa is that the spouse must be an American citizen.

K-4 visas

This non-immigrant family US visa is for unmarried dependent children under 21 years of age who hold K-3 visas. With this visa, you can go to school in the US and get an EAD (Employment Authorization Document) to work.

O-type family-based US visas.

The O-3 non-immigrant family US visa is the derivative of the O-1/O-2 visa. It is issued to the spouse or the dependent child of O-1 or O-2 visa holders. The O-1 visa is issued for a limited period and is intended for overseas nationals who are highly qualified in a particular field or have been recognized for their achievements at a national or international level.

An O-2 visa is issued to a person accompanying an O-1 sportswoman or an O-1 artist to help with specific events or performances. O-3 visa holders are also directly linked to the stay of an O-1 or an O-2 non-immigrant worker. However, their stay will be restricted to the duration of the professional engagements they are connected to.

This length of stay can be increased, but any increase will only be in relation to the time needed to complete the first event or activity. You will not be able to work while in the US, but they will have the opportunity to continue their education during their stay in the US.

Like other derivative visas, you must file an O-3 visa application (Form DS-160 with supporting documents) and attend an interview. You can also file Form I-539 to change to O-classifications from within the US.

H-4 visa

The H-4 visa is issued to family members of H-visa holders. It can also be issued to the dependents of holders of the following visa types: H-1B, H-1B1, H-2A, H-2B, and H-3 visas. Spouses and unmarried children under the age of 21 are entitled to the H-4 visa.

Parents of H visa holders cannot apply for an H-4 visa but can travel to the United States with other types of visas. An H-4 visa allows you to move to the United States and live with the H visa holder. The benefits of this visa include:

  1. Living in the United States;
  2. Attending schools;
  3. Opening a bank account;
  4. Working anywhere with an Employment Authorization Document (EAD);
  5. Full-time and part-time work;
  6. Getting a social security number (SIN) and tax ID;
  7. Starting your own business;
  8. Getting a driver’s license.

There is no annual quota or limit on the number of H-4 visa applicants, and there is no time limit on the H-4 visa application.

P-4 visas

This non-immigrant family US visa permits the spouse and dependent children of the P visa holder to temporarily immigrate to the United States to live with the primary visa holder. Spouses and dependent children may study part-time and full-time at any school or college in the United States without requiring an F-1 student visa.

However, neither spouse nor dependent children are permitted to work in the United States based on the P-4 visa unless they are specifically authorized to do so by USCIS. The P-4 visa is only for immediate family members and does not apply to the primary visa holder’s parents, in-laws, or adult children over 21 years of age.

L-2 visas

The L-2 visa allows spouses and children of an L-1 visa holder to immigrate to the United States. The spouses must be legally married to an individual coming to the United States on an L-1 visa, and the children must be unmarried and under 21 years of age. Other family members, such as a parent, sibling, or grandparent, are not eligible.

The purpose of the L-1 visa is to temporarily transfer an individual employed abroad to a branch or a subsidiary of the company in the United States. After the L-1 visa has been approved by the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), the foreign worker can continue working with the US company.

Once the L-1 visa has been approved, an L-2 visa can be applied for and the L-2 visa spouse can work in the US. The application can be submitted when the spouse arrives in the country.

Get help!

If you desire to bring your loved ones to the US, there are many ways to do this. However, it takes a lot of effort to get the right visa. That is why it is so important to hire an immigration lawyer. At Gehi and Associates, we have a team of skilled immigration lawyers who can assist you with any visa application.

We have a proven track record of success, so you can trust us to take care of your immigration application and make it an enjoyable experience. Contact us today to find out how we can help you!


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