Nolo's Plain-English Law Dictionary

Nonimmigrant Visa

A U.S. visa, issued by a U.S. consulate or embassy, that allows its holder to come to the United States temporarily and for a limited purpose. Each nonimmigrant visa comes with a different set of privileges, such as the right to work or study. In addition to a descriptive name, a letter of the alphabet and a number identifies each type of nonimmigrant visa. Student visas, for example, are F-1 or M-1, and investor visas are E-2. Nonimmigrant visas also vary according to how long they permit the holder to stay in the United States. For example, someone on an investor visa can remain for many years, but someone on a visitor's visa can stay for only six months at a time.