9 FAM 402 
Nonimmigrant Visa Classifications

9 FAM 402.1 

Overview of NIV Classifications

(CT:VISA-1902;   02-01-2024)
(Office of Origin:  CA/VO)

9 FAM 402.1-1  Statutory and REgulatory Authorities

9 FAM 402.1-1(A)  Immigration and Nationality Act

(CT:VISA-1;   11-18-2015)

INA 101(a)(15) (8 U.S.C. 1101(a)(15)); INA 101(a)(26) (8 U.S.C. 1101(a)(26)); INA 291 (8 U.S.C. 1363).

9 FAM 402.1-1(B)  Code of Federal Regulations

(CT:VISA-1;   11-18-2015)

22 CFR 41.11; 22 CFR 41.22(b).

9 FAM 402.1-2  Introduction to NIV Classification

(CT:VISA-1902;   02-01-2024)

a. A visa issued to a nonimmigrant applicant within one of the classes described in this section must bear an appropriate visa symbol to show the classification of the applicant.  The symbol must be inserted in the space provided on the visa.  The following visa symbols must be used:



Section of law


Ambassador, Public Minister, Career Diplomat or Consular Officer, or Immediate Family

INA 101(a)(15)(A)(i).


Other Foreign Government Official or Employee, or Immediate Family

INA 101(a)(15)(A)(ii).


Attendant, Servant, or Personal Employee of A1 or A2, or Immediate Family

INA 101(a)(15)(A)(iii).


Temporary Visitor for Business

INA 101(a)(15)(B).


Temporary Visitor for Pleasure

INA 101(a)(15)(B).


Temporary Visitor for Business & Pleasure

INA 101(a)(15)(B).


Noncitizen in Transit

INA 101(a)(15)(C).


Combined Transit and Crewmember Visa

INA 101(a)(15)(C) and (D).


Noncitizen in Transit to United Nations Headquarters District Under Sec. 11.(3), (4), or (5) of the Headquarters Agreement

INA 101(a)(15)(C).


Foreign Government Official, Immediate Family, Attendant, Servant or Personal Employee, in Transit

INA 212(d)(8).


Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands - Only Transitional Worker

Section 6(d) of Public Law 94–241, as added by Section 702(a) of Public Law 110–229; 48 U.S.C. 1806(d).


Spouse or Child of CW1

Section 6(d) of Public Law 94–241, as added by Section 702(a) of Public Law 110–229; 48 U.S.C. 1806(d).


Crewmember (Sea or Air)

INA 101(a)(15)(D).


Treaty Trader, Spouse or Child

INA 101(a)(15)(E)(i).


Treaty Investor, Spouse or Child

INA 101(a)(15)(E)(ii).


Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands Investor, Spouse or Child

Section 6(c) of Public Law 94–241, as added by Section 702(a) of Public Law 110–229; 48 U.S.C. 1806(d).


Australian National

Coming to the United States Solely to Perform Services in a Specialty Occupation

INA 101(a)(15)(E)(iii).


Spouse or Child of E3

INA 101(a)(15)(E)(iii).


Returning E3

INA 101(a)(15)(E)(iii).


Student in an Academic or Language Training Program

INA 101(a)(15)(F)(i).


Spouse or Child of F1

INA 101(a)(15)(F)(ii).


Canadian or Mexican National Commuter Student in an Academic or Language Training Program

INA 101(a)(15)(F)(iii).


Principal Resident Representative of Recognized Foreign Government to International Organization, Staff, or Immediate Family

INA 101(a)(15)(G)(i).


Other Representative of Recognized Foreign Member Government to International Organization, or Immediate Family

INA 101(a)(15)(G)(ii).


Representative of Nonrecognized or Nonmember Foreign Government to International Organization, or Immediate Family

INA 101(a)(15)(G)(iii).


International Organization Officer or Employee, or Immediate Family

INA 101(a)(15)(G)(iv).


Attendant, Servant, or Personal Employee of G1 through G4, or Immediate Family

INA 101(a)(15)(G)(v).


Temporary Worker in a Specialty Occupation

INA 101(a)(15)(H)(i)(b).


Chilean or Singaporean Temporary Worker in a Specialty Occupation

INA 101(a)(15)(H)(i)(b1).


Registered Nurse in Health Professional Shortage Area

INA 101(a)(15)(H)(i)(c).


Temporary Worker Performing Agricultural Services

INA 101(a)(15)(H)(ii)(a).


Temporary Non-Agricultural  Worker

INA 101(a)(15)(H)(ii)(b).


Trainee or Special Education Exchange Visitor

INA 101(a)(15)(H)(iii).


Spouse or Child of Temporary Worker Classified H1B, H1B1, H1C, H2A, H2B, or H–3

INA 101(a)(15)(H)(iv).


Representative of Foreign Information Media, Spouse and Child

INA 101(a)(15)(I).


Exchange Visitor

INA 101(a)(15)(J).


Spouse or Child of J1

INA 101(a)(15)(J).


Fiancé(e) of United States Citizen

INA 101(a)(15)(K)(i).


Child of Fiancé(e) of U.S. Citizen

INA 101(a)(15)(K)(iii).


Spouse of U.S. citizen awaiting availability of immigrant visa

INA 101(a)(15)(K)(ii).


Child of K3

INA 101(a)(15)(K)(iii).


Intracompany Transferee (Executive, Managerial, and Specialized Knowledge Personnel Continuing Employment)

INA 101(a)(15)(L).


Spouse or Child of L1

INA 101(a)(15)(L).


Vocational Student or Other Nonacademic Student

INA 101(a)(15)(M)(i).


Spouse or Child of M1

INA 101(a)(15)(M)(ii).


Canadian or Mexican National Commuter Student (Vocational Student or Other Nonacademic Student)

INA 101(a)(15)(M)(iii).


Parent of an Individual Classified by DHS as SK3 or SN3

INA 101(a)(15)(N)(i).


Child of N8 or Individual Classified by DHS as SK1, SK2, SK4, SN1, SN2 or SN4

INA 101(a)(15)(N)(ii).


Principal Permanent Representative of Member State to NATO (including any of its Subsidiary Bodies) Resident in the U.S. and Resident Members of Official Staff; Secretary General, Assistant Secretaries General, and Executive Secretary of NATO; Other Permanent NATO Officials of Similar Rank, or Immediate Family

Art. 12, 5 UST 1094; Art. 20, 5 UST 1098.


Other Representative of Member State to NATO (including any of its Subsidiary Bodies) including Representatives, Advisers, and Technical Experts of Delegations, or Immediate Family; Dependents of Member of a Force Entering in Accordance with the Provisions of the NATO Status-of-Forces Agreement or in Accordance with the provisions of the “Protocol on the Status of International Military Headquarters”; Members of Such a Force if Issued Visas

Art. 13, 5 UST 1094; Art. 1, 4 UST 1794; Art. 3, 4 UST 1796.


Official Clerical Staff Accompanying Representative of Member State to NATO (including any of its Subsidiary Bodies), or Immediate Family

Art. 14, 5 UST 1096.


Official of NATO (Other Than Those Classifiable as NATO1), or Immediate Family

Art. 18, 5 UST 1098.


Experts, Other Than NATO Officials Classifiable Under NATO4, Employed in Missions on Behalf of NATO, and their Dependents

Art. 21, 5 UST 1100.


Member of a Civilian Component Accompanying a Force Entering in Accordance with the Provisions of the NATO Status-of-Forces Agreement; Member of a Civilian Component Attached to or Employed by an Allied Headquarters Under the “Protocol on the Status of International Military Headquarters” Set Up Pursuant to the North Atlantic Treaty; and their Dependents

Art. 1, 4 UST 1794; Art. 3, 5 UST 877.


Attendant, Servant, or Personal Employee of NATO1, NATO2, NATO 3, NATO4, NATO5, and NATO6 Classes, or Immediate Family

Arts. 12–20, 5 UST 1094–1098.


Worker with Extraordinary Ability or Achievement in Sciences, Arts, Education, Business or Athletics

INA 101(a)(15)(O)(i).


Person Accompanying and Assisting in the Artistic or Athletic Performance by O1

INA 101(a)(15)(O)(ii).


Spouse or Child of O1 or O2

INA 101(a)(15)(O)(iii).


Internationally Recognized Athlete or Member of Internationally Recognized Entertainment Group

INA 101(a)(15)(P)(i).


Artist or Entertainer in a Reciprocal Exchange Program

INA 101(a)(15)(P)(ii).


Artist or Entertainer in a Culturally Unique Program

INA 101(a)(15)(P)(iii).


Spouse or Child of P1, P2, or P3

INA 101(a)(15)(P)(iv).


Participant in an International Cultural Exchange Program

INA 101(a)(15)(Q)(i).


Member of a Religious Denomination Performing Religious Work

INA 101(a)(15)(R).


Spouse or Child of R1

INA 101(a)(15)(R).


Person Supplying Critical Information Relating to a Criminal Organization or Enterprise

INA 101(a)(15)(S)(i).


Person Supplying Critical Information Relating to Terrorism

INA 101(a)(15)(S)(ii).


Qualified Family Member of S5 or S6

INA 101(a)(15)(S).


Victim of a Severe Form of Trafficking in Persons

INA 101(a)(15)(T)(i).


Spouse of T1

INA 101(a)(15)(T)(ii).


Child of T1

INA 101(a)(15)(T)(ii).


Parent of T1 Under 21 Years of age; Or Parent of T1 (Any Age) Who Faces Present Danger of Retaliation

INA 101(a)(15)(T)(ii).


Unmarried Sibling Under 18 Years of Age of T1 Under 21 Years of Age; or Unmarried Sibling Under 18 Years of Age of a T1 (Any Age), Who Face Present Danger of Retaliation

INA 101(a)(15)(T)(ii)


Adult or Minor Child of a Derivative Beneficiary of T1 (Any Age) Who Face Present Danger of Retaliation

INA 101(a)(15)(T)(ii)


USMCA Professional

INA 214(e)(1).


Spouse or Child of TN

INA 214(e)(1).


Victim of Criminal Activity

INA 101(a)(15)(U)(i).


Spouse of U1

INA 101(a)(15)(U)(ii).


Child of U1

INA 101(a)(15)(U)(ii).


Parent of U1 Under 21 Years of Age

INA 101(a)(15)(U)(ii).


Unmarried Sibling Under Age 18 of U1 Under 21 Years of Age

INA 101(a)(15)(U)(ii).


Spouse of a Lawful Permanent Resident Awaiting Availability of Immigrant Visa

INA 101(a)(15)(V)(i) or INA 101(a)(15)(V)(ii).


Child of a Lawful Permanent Resident Awaiting Availability of Immigrant Visa

INA 101(a)(15)(V)(i) or INA 101(a)(15)(V)(ii).


Child of V1 or V2

INA 101(a)(15)(V)(i) or INA 101(a)(15)(V)(ii) & INA 203(d).

[Source: 22 CFR 41.12 (78 FR 68992, Nov. 18, 2013, as amended at 85 FR 38321, June 26, 2020), as amended further at 86 FR 61064, November 5, 2021, as amended further at 88 FR 45068, July 14, 2023]

b. NIV Classification Summary Chart, provides a reference summary of NIV classifications, legal and statutory authorities, and FAM section for each classification.  

9 FAM 402.1-3  Choice of Classification

(CT:VISA-1318;   07-20-2021)

a. Principal Purpose of Admission:  An applicant desiring to come to the United States for one principal purpose, and one or more incidental purposes, must be classified in accordance with the principal purpose.  For example, you must classify an applicant seeking to enter the United States as a student who desires, prior to entering an approved school, to make a tourist trip of not more than 30 days within the United States, as F-1 or M-1.  Also, when a family member’s primary purpose to come to the United States is to accompany the principal, the classification of the accompanying family member is either of a derivative of the principal if the classification provides or as a B-2, if not.  This is the case even if the accompanying family member decides to attend school.  See 9 FAM 402.1-5(C) below.

b. Choice When More Than One Classification Possible:  When it appears that an applicant can properly be classified under two or more nonimmigrant classifications, you must explain to the applicant the terms and requirements of each, including documentary requirements, maximum lengths of stay which may be authorized upon admission, and any other pertinent factors.  You must then base the classification of the visa on the applicant’s stated preference.  See the Visa "Reciprocity Schedule.”

c. No Alternative to A and G Classification:  The provisions of 22 CFR 41.22(b) relating to the A and G classifications are always controlling.  You must not suggest alternative classifications.

9 FAM 402.1-4  Classification of Spouse

9 FAM 402.1-4(A)  Derivative Classification of Spouse Accompanying the Principal

(CT:VISA-1318;   07-20-2021)

In all nonimmigrant classifications except B, C, D, K, and V, the principal's spouse is entitled to derivative nonimmigrant classification.  You must be satisfied that a valid marital relationship exists.  If the spouse is applying in company with the principal, the determination that the principal is eligible for one of the nonimmigrant classifications is sufficient to establish that the spouse is eligible for the corresponding derivative classification.

9 FAM 402.1-4(B)  Principal Must be Maintaining Status for Spouse to Receive Derivative Classification

(CT:VISA-1318;   07-20-2021)

If the spouse is seeking to follow to join a principal already in the United States, you must be satisfied that the principal is, in fact, maintaining the nonimmigrant status from which the spouse seeks derivative classification.  In questionable cases, you may request verification from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) or from the Department for holders of A, G, and NATO visas.  If, while processing an application, you learn that the principal is not in fact maintaining the status claimed (for example, is not pursuing a full course of study, participating in an exchange program, or performing the specified services or undertaking the specified training), such information must be reported to the appropriate DHS district office.  See 9 FAM 402.1-4(C) below concerning nonimmigrant intent.

9 FAM 402.1-4(C)  Establishment of Nonimmigrant Status Also Required for Derivative Classification

(CT:VISA-1318;   07-20-2021)

A spouse applying for a visa based on a derivative classification must establish the requisite nonimmigrant intent to the same extent as the principal applicant.  Thus, an applicant for a(n) F-2, J-2, H-4 (except the derivatives of an H-1), M-2, O-3, and P-4 visa must establish having a residence in a foreign country which the applicant has no intention of abandoning.  If the spouse is applying for a visa in the same company with the principal, both must be evaluated collectively.  Differing conclusions concerning their entitlement to nonimmigrant classification would be rare and must be based on clearly defined, objective differences in their situations.  If the derivative applicant is seeking to join a principal already in the United States, a different situation may exist from that which existed at the time of the issuance of the principal's visa and could justify a determination by you that the derivative applicant does not have the requisite nonimmigrant intent.

9 FAM 402.1-4(D)  Choice of Alternate Classification When Derivative Status is Too Limiting for Spouse

(CT:VISA-1;   11-18-2015)

A spouse eligible for derivative classification may also qualify for and be issued another type of visa.  For instance, the spouse of an F-1 student may wish to work.  Since F-2 visa holders may not work, the spouse may wish to apply for an immigrant visa (IV), temporary worker visa, or another type of visa, which allows work for pay. 

9 FAM 402.1-4(E)  Derivative Nonimmigrant Classification for Spouse of Permanent Resident Signing INA 247(b) Waiver

(CT:VISA-1318;   07-20-2021)

A permanent resident may accept a position or establish a business, which, if the individual were a nonimmigrant, would lead to A, E, or G classification.  To retain permanent residence, the individual must sign a waiver of rights, privileges, exemptions, and immunities under INA 247(b).  However, the spouse of such a person may be granted derivative A, E, or G status if the spouse is a nonimmigrant or does not wish to maintain permanent residence. As an example, a permanent resident who is a citizen of a small country might be named to the country’s permanent U.N. delegation in a non-diplomatic agent position.  They could retain permanent residence by signing the waiver.  The spouse may, however, be granted derivative G-1 status if the spouse does not wish to maintain permanent residence or has never had it.  For instance, if the principal has married after becoming a permanent resident and the spouse does not wish to remain permanently in the United States because of illness in the family abroad, a derivative G classification would be the only way for the spouse to join the principal for visits from time to time. 

9 FAM 402.1-4(F)  Classification of Spouse Accompanying Crew Member

(CT:VISA-1318;   07-20-2021)

The spouse of a crewmember entering the United States as a nonimmigrant under INA 101(a)(15)(D), who is coming to the United States solely to accompany the principal, is classifiable B-2.  See 9 FAM 402.2-4(A).

9 FAM 402.1-4(G)  Classification of Party to Proxy Marriage

(CT:VISA-1318;   07-20-2021)

a. INA 101(a)(35) provides that the term “spouse”, “wife”, or “husband” does not include a party to a proxy marriage which has not been consummated.

b. Therefore, a spouse by a proxy marriage, which has not been consummated, cannot derive a nonimmigrant classification from a spouse in the United States.  In such cases, a B-2 visa may be issued to an otherwise qualified proxy spouse, provided you conclude that the individual in the United States is maintaining the appropriate nonimmigrant status and that the spouse seeks to travel to the United States to join the individual.  After admission to the United States in B-2 status and consummation of the marriage, the spouse by proxy marriage can then apply to DHS for a change to the appropriate derivative nonimmigrant status.

9 FAM 402.1-5  Classification of Child

9 FAM 402.1-5(A)  Derivative Classification of Child Accompanying or Following to Join the Principal

(CT:VISA-1318;   07-20-2021)

The provisions of 9 FAM 402.1-4(A) and (B) above are applicable to a child of a principal, provided the child is a “child” as defined in INA 101(b)(1)(A) through (E).

9 FAM 402.1-5(B)  Adopted Children

(CT:VISA-1318;   07-20-2021)

a. Children adopted by American citizens who do not intend to live in the United States may visit the United States on NIVs (see 9 FAM 402.2-4(B)(4)) and, in some cases, qualify for a B-2 visa to participate in expeditious naturalization procedures (9 FAM 402.2-4(B)(7)).

b. Adopted children:

(1)  Adopted children who meet INA 101(b)(1)(E) criteria may also qualify for nonimmigrant status as the derivative child of a principal NIV applicant.  For example, the principal applicant for a nonimmigrant F visa may bring their adopted child to the United States under the nonimmigrant F-2 classification if the otherwise-qualified child was adopted before age 16 and has already spent two years in the applicant’s residence and custody.

(2)  Unless INA 101(b)(1)(E) requirements are met, the adopted child does not qualify as a derivative child; INA 101(b)(1)(F) criteria cannot be applied to nonimmigrant derivative cases.  However, as stated in 9 FAM 402.3-4(J)(3), to qualify for derivative A or G NIV status as a member of the principal applicant’s immediate family, a legal son or daughter need not have qualified as a “child” as defined in INA 101(b)(1).

c.  You must carefully review NIV applications for children who have been adopted or will be adopted by U.S. citizens and who intend to live in the United States with their adoptive parents.  Such children may wish to visit the United States for a short time and return to their country of residence for IV processing, thereby satisfying INA 214(b) provisions and qualifying for a B-2 visa.  However, for cases where you are not satisfied that the child will return to their residence abroad, a NIV should not be issued to the child.  Such an issuance would violate the law, circumvent scrutiny intended to protect the child and adoptive parents, and place the child in an untenable immigration predicament since DHS regulations generally prohibit the approval of an immigrant petition for a child who is in the United States either without documentation or in nonimmigrant status.

d. In rare cases where there are significant humanitarian concerns (i.e., natural disaster, civil disorder/war, etc.), adoptive parents may seek humanitarian parole for an adoptive child who will be legally able to adjust status in the United States based on an immigrant classification (see 9 FAM 202.3-3).

e. You should also recognize that you may also very occasionally encounter cases of adopted children who are not eligible for any immigrant or NIV classification, usually due to their advanced age or the circumstances of the adoption.

9 FAM 402.1-5(C)  Classification of Children Who Will also be Attending School

(CT:VISA-1318;   07-20-2021)

A child entitled to derivative nonimmigrant classification from the principal is not required to qualify under INA 101(a)(15)(F) as a nonimmigrant student, even though the child will attend school in the United States while accompanying the principal.

9 FAM 402.1-6  Issuance of Nonimmigrant Visas (NIV) to Spouses and/or Children When Principal is in Status but Has No Visa

(CT:VISA-1665;   12-08-2022)

Derivative beneficiaries are entitled to apply for visas to follow and/or join principals who are maintaining status in the United States, even when the principal was never issued a visa in the classification being sought by the dependent.  Take, for instance, a world-class soccer player, who changes their status from F-1 to O-1.  The spouse and/or children are entitled to apply for nonimmigrant O-3 visas.  Typical documentation for establishing entitlement to visas in such an instance might include marriage and birth certificates for the spouse and dependent(s), a copy of the principal beneficiary's approval notice, and any Form I-797, Notice of Action notices relating to the dependents' own change of status filings.  Another example would be a foreign national who entered the United States on a B-1 visa and subsequently changed status to F-1.  The spouse and/or child of the F-1 would be entitled to seek F-2 visas.  In such cases, the dependent would need to present a properly endorsed Form I-20, Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant (F-1) Student Status - for Academic and Language Students, as evidence that the principal is enrolled, or will be enrolled within 60 days, in a full course of study or is in approved practical training.