Burroughs visas were antecedents of Machine Readable Visas (MRVs) and ceased being issued in May 1994, with none valid after 1 April 2004. While they were business and tourist visas with indefinite validity, they were non-immigrant visas. Although the bearer could remain in the US for lengths of time, they were not residents for purposes of immigration.
The Department of State Bureau of Consular Affairs gave the history in the Federal Register 22 CFR Part 41:
Public Notice 2538
Visas: Documentation of Non-immigrants Under the Immigration and Nationality Act; Validity of Non-immigrant Visas
Before the [Machine Readable Visa (MRVs)], non-immigrant visas were issued using a device called a Standard Register protectograph, otherwise known as a Burroughs certifier machine. It produced what was colloquially known as a "Burroughs visa," an indelible ink impression mechanically stamped directly onto a page in the alien's passport. Over time, Burroughs machines were gradually replaced by MRV technology, which is now used
exclusively by all non-immigrant visa issuing posts throughout the world.
Cessation of Indefinite Visa Validity for "B" Visas
Prior to MRV technology, Burroughs visas were issued to alien visitors for indefinite validity periods whenever an enabling reciprocal arrangement was established between the United States and a particular foreign government. Because a Burroughs visa would last for the life of the passport containing it, consular officers were authorized to issue, where appropriate, a non-immigrant visitor visa
with an indefinite validity period. MRVs, however, have a lifespan of ten years. Consequently, in anticipation of replacing Burroughs visas with MRVs, the Department instructed all posts, effective April 4, 1994, to cease issuing visitor visas with indefinite validity. The
maximum validity for a non-immigrant visa is now ten years.
Elimination of the "Bearer(s)" Annotation
Burroughs visas contained a space in which a consular employee was required to write the name of the alien to whom the visa was being issued. An alien's passport might also include family members, such as a spouse, or children, who also had to be listed on the visa. In March
1983, in order to expedite the issuance of non-immigrant visas and to improve operational efficiency, the Department authorized the use of a "bearer(s)" stamp for certain countries so that consular officers would not have to spend time writing in the applicant's name (and those
of accompanying family members). MRVs, however, must be issued individually to qualified aliens. Consequently, the "bearer" annotation has become obsolete.
Federal Register Volume 62, Number 86
Monday, May 5, 1997
Rules and Regulations
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office www.gpo.gov
FR Doc No: 97-11519