United States immigration law provides certain classifications for the entry of foreign citizens into the U.S. There are two primary categories: (1) nonimmigrant or temporary; and (2) immigrant or permanent.

Nonimmigrant vs. Immigrant

  • The nonimmigrant category provides for the temporary entry of foreign citizens into the U.S. for a limited purpose such as visits for pleasure and temporary employment.
  • The immigrant category provides for the entry of foreign citizens into the U.S. for the purposes of permanent residence in the U.S.

Nonimmigrant Categories

  • There are several temporary nonimmigrant categories. Each nonimmigrant classification has its own individual characteristics and requirements.
  • The INA describes each classification in lettered subparagraphs and is set forth in INA § 101 (a) (15). Each classification is referred to by these letters.
  • For example, subparagraph “B” provides for the nonimmigrant visitor classification, which permits foreign citizens to visit the United States temporarily for business or pleasure. This nonimmigrant classification is, therefore, referred to as the “B Visitor” classification.

NAFTA: A Unique Group.

  • Unlike the lettered nonimmigrant classifications described above, a unique nonimmigrant classification created as result of the North American Free Trade Agreement (“NAFTA”) exists solely for the benefit of Canadian and Mexican citizens.
  • Under NAFTA, a Canadian or Mexican citizen may temporarily enter into the United States and engage in certain designated occupational categories. This nonimmigrant classification is known as a TN (for Trade NAFTA).

Additional Materials:

Rev. Oct. 28, 2013.