Temporary Visas

Under US immigration rules a visa can be either temporary or permanent. Temporary visas allow visa holders to live in the US during the duration of the visa status.

Temporary visas all have an expiration date.


Visa Validity Dates

A visa is a stamp placed in the passport by an American Consulate or Embassy outside the US. It is no longer possible to obtain a visa by mail. Temporary visas show an expiration date and the number of entries allowed with that visa. A visa is like a key to open the “door” into the US. It does not guarantee entry and it does not indicate the period of stay allowed once you enter the “door” at the port of entry. The visa stamp indicates the number of entries allowed during the validity period. Most temporary visas are issued for a fee of $100 and provide the maximum legal validity period and multiple entries. Sometimes a temporary visa will be issued for a shorter validity period, fewer entries, and for a fee greater than $100.

The “authorized period of stay” is determined by the US immigration inspector at the port of entry. The authorized period of stay is marked on an I-94 card that is placed inside the passport by the immigration officer.

The “authorized period of stay” for most employment based temporary visas and visitor visas is a specific date marked on the I-94 card. Some temporary visa holders — such as students, media workers, and diplomats — are admitted into the US without a specific expiration date. The I-94 of these visa holders is marked “D/S” which stands for “duration of status.” This means that as long as the visa holder is abiding by the terms of the visa, he or she may remain in the US indefinitely.