A Multiple-Entry Visa is a specific type of visa that allows the visa holder to enter the U.S. multiple times within a given time frame. For example, the holder of a multiple entry visa may be allowed enter the U.S., then return to their home country, and return back to the U.S., a number of times.
The way that multiple-entry visas work is that they are usually valid for a specified period of time. This time period is called the “validity period”, and may range anywhere from 6 months to 12 months, and usually up to a maximum of 24 months. Within the validity period, the visa holder can enter and re-enter the U.S., subject to various restrictions on travel.
It is important to keep in mind that there is a difference between a multiple entry visa, a re-entry permit, and a single entry visa:
- Re-Entry Visas: Multiple entry visas are different from a re-entry permit, which are sometimes valid for only one instance of re-entry, after the person has left the U.S. for a short period of time. In contrast, multiple entry visas allow for several different instances of re-entry, and often allow the person to remain outside of the U.S. for longer periods of time. The person can sometimes re-enter as many times as they like.
- Single Entry Visa: Single-entry visas are usually issued to travelers who plan to make one trip to a particular destination. Applicants for the multiple entry visas usually plan to visit the same country multiple times over a specific period of time.
Each country establishes requirements that must be met by applicants who request a multiple entry visa. Multiple entry visas are still classified under the purpose for which the person is visiting the U.S. temporarily. For example, tourist visas, work-related visas, etc., can be issued as a multiple-entry visa. So, the applicant would need to fulfill the basic requirements for that specific temporary visa category in order to receive multiple-entry status.
In addition, multiple-entry visas are subject to unique restrictions and requirements, which may include:
- Gaps Between Visits: Depending on the country of origin, the person may need to wait a certain time period in between each re-entry. For example, multiple-entry visas for persons coming from India require a 2-month gap in between each instance of re-entry. This waiting period may be waived in some circumstances.
- Maximum Time for Each Stay: Again depending on the country, there may be a maximum time limit that the person can stay for each entry. For example, a person traveling from China can stay in the U.S. for a maximum of 30 days for each entry period, whereas the maximum time is 90 days for a person entering from Brazil.
- Good Record: Aside from the standard eligibility requirements for the temporary visa, multiple-entry visas are usually only issued to applicants who have a good record with the immigration authorities. This includes no criminal history, a good track record in terms of any previous entries, and no history of removal/deportation.
Again, the specific details for each multiple-entry visa will depend on many factors, including the country of origin and the applicant’s overall immigration record. Eligibility requirements may also change every year, since many types of visas are subject to quotas, which fluctuate every year.
Multiple entry visas will be valid for a certain period of time depending on the date that was issued. This is known as the visa validity period. During the visa validity period, the holders of these visas can travel to the country that issued the visa multiple times for the purpose the visas were issued. However, they must not exceed the number of entries allowed on their visas. It should be noted that the validity period starts the date the visa was issued.
Multiple entry visas are very helpful for the visa holder, but they can also be somewhat difficult to obtain. If you need legal advice or representation regarding a multiple entry visa, it’s in your best interests to hire a local immigration lawyer for assistance. An immigration lawyer will be able to explain how immigration laws and policies may affect you, and can provide you with guidance in applying for a multiple entry visa for you or a loved one.