Non- Immigrant Visas
In general, a citizen of a foreign country who seeks to enter the United States temporarily must first obtain a U.S. nonimmigrant visa, which is placed in the traveler’s passport.
You will require a visa to travel to the United States unless you are eligible to enter the United States visa free under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP), or you are a citizen of Canada or Bermuda.
Tourism and Visitor
B-2 visitor visas are nonimmigrant visas for persons traveling to United States temporarily for tourism, pleasure or visiting. The following are additional activities that can be conducted on the B-2 visa such as
- Medical treatment: If you are seeking medical treatment in the United States you may be asked for additional documents in support of your application, which may include:
- Medical diagnosis from a local physician, explaining the nature of the ailment and the reason you need treatment in the U.S. ;
- Letter from a physician or medical facility in the U.S., stating they are willing to treat your specific ailment and detailing the projected length and cost of treatment (including doctors’ fees, hospitalization fees, and all medical-related expenses); and
- Proof that your transportation, medical, and living expenses in the U.S. will be paid. This may be in the form of bank or other statements of income/savings or certified copies of income tax returns (either yours or the person or organization paying for your treatment).
- Amateur Entertainer: Amateur or a member of a group of amateurs performing in a social and/or charitable context, or as a competitor in a talent show or contest,
- Amateur Athlete: Amateur athlete or a member of a group of athletes competing in an athletic event for which you will receive no payment, other than incidental expenses,
- Short Course of Study: primary purpose of travel is tourism and during your visit you will engage in a course of study,
B-1 visas are nonimmigrant visas for persons traveling to the United States temporarily to engage in business activities such as the negotiation of contracts, consultation with business associates, litigation, and participation in scientific, educational, professional or business conventions, conferences or seminars and other legitimate activities of a commercial or professional nature.
It does not generally allow for gainful employment or productive activity such as operating a business or consultancy work. The following are additional activities that can be conducted on the B-1 visa.
If you wish to work in the United States for a temporary period you will require a nonimmigrant work visa. You cannot work on a visitor or business visa, or under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP).
Unlike some countries, the United States government does not issue work visas for casual employment. In general, work visas are based on a specific offer of employment. In most cases, a petition must be filed and approved by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) before applying for the visa at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate.
Treaty Trader or Treaty Investor
Treaty Trader visas (E-1) and Treaty Investor visas (E-2) are nonimmigrant visas for citizens of countries which the United States maintains a treaty of commerce and navigation (9 FAM 402.9-10). The applicant must be coming to the United States to engage in substantial trade, including trade in services or technology, in qualifying activities, principally between the United States and the treaty country (E-1); or to develop and direct the operations of an enterprise in which the applicant has invested or is in the process of investing a substantial amount of capital (E-2).
The Treaty Trader and Treaty Investor visas were established to facilitate and enhance economic interaction between the United States and other treaty countries. They were not intended to serve as a means for foreigners to retire or merely reside in the United States.
Study & Exchange
In general those wishing to study in the United States require student (F-1 or M-1) visas depending on whether the study is academic or vocational.
Students taking part in an exchange program, and those wishing to take up prearranged employment, training or research in the United States under an officially approved program sponsored by an educational or other nonprofit institution, require exchange visitor (J-1) visas.
If your spouse, partner and/or children under the age of 21 wish to accompany or join you for the duration of your stay, they may be eligible to apply for derivative visas.
- F1 Visas: If you wish to attend a university or other academic institution in the United States, including primary and secondary school, or a language training program you will require an F-1 visa. Please note that F-1 visas cannot be issued to attend a public elementary school (grades K through 8, approximately ages 5 to 14) or publically funded adult education program such as foreign language classes. While an F-1 can be issued to attend public secondary school (grades 9 through 12, approximately ages 14 to 18), students are limited to a maximum of 12 months of high school in F-1 status and must show proof that payment has been made for the full, unsubsidized cost of the education at the time they apply for the visa. Private elementary or secondary schools are not affected by this ruling and provided the school issues you with the form I-20, you may apply for an F-1 visa.
- M1 Visas: If you wish to pursue a course of study which is not principally academic in nature at an established vocational or other recognized nonacademic institution such as a post secondary vocational or business school, you will require an M-1 visa.
Diplomats & Other Government Officials
With the exception of a Head of State or Government who qualifies for an A-1 visa regardless of the purpose of the visit to the United States, the type of visa required by a diplomat or other government official depends upon the reason for entering the United States.
Government officials traveling to the United States to perform non-governmental functions of a commercial nature or traveling as tourists require the appropriate H, L or B visa, or if qualified, travel visa free under the Visa Waiver Program; they do not qualify for diplomatic or official visas.
Spouses, Partners and Children: Immediate family members are defined as the spouse and unmarried sons and daughters of any age who are members of the household. Individuals who do not qualify as immediate family members may be eligible to apply for B-1/B-2 visas. B-1/B-2 visa applicants are required to pay the MRV application fee, and reciprocal issuance fees, if applicable.
Rest of other visa categories were designed for other purpose of enter to the USA that you will find a full list of other types of the USA visa categories below chart.
The chart below contains many different purposes of temporary travel and the related nonimmigrant visa categories available under the Non-Immigrant Visa Category of the USA.
|Purpose of Travel||Visa Category|
|Athlete, amateur or professional (competing for prize money only)||B-1|
|Au pair (exchange visitor)||J|
|Australian professional specialty||E-3|
|Border Crossing Card: Mexico||BCC|
|CNMI-only transitional worker||CW-1|
|Diplomat or foreign government official||A|
|Domestic employee or nanny||B-1|
|Employee of a designated international organization or NATO||G1-G5,NATO|
|Foreign military personnel stationed in the United States|
|Foreign national with extraordinary ability in Sciences, Arts, Education, Business or Athletics||O|
|Free Trade Agreement (FTA) Professional: Chile, Singapore|
H-1B1 - Chile
H-1B1 - Singapore
|International cultural exchange visitor||Q|
|Medical treatment (visitor for medical treatment)||B-2|
|NAFTA professional worker: Mexico, Canada||TN/TD|
|Performing athlete, artist, entertainer||P|
|Professor, scholar, teacher (exchange visitor)||J|
|Specialty occupations in fields requiring highly specialized knowledge||H-1B|
|Student: academic, vocational||F,M|
|Temporary agricultural worker||H-2A|
|Temporary worker performing other services or labor of a temporary or seasonal nature.||H-2B|
|Tourism, vacation, pleasure visitor||B-2|
|Training in a program not primarily for employment||H-3|
|Treaty trader/treaty investor||E|
|Transiting the United States||C|
|Victim of Criminal Activity||U|
|Victim of Human Trafficking||T|
|Nonimmigrant (V) Visa for Spouse and Children of a Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR)||V|
|Renewals in the U.S. – A, G, and NATO Visas|
To apply for an immigrant visa, a foreign citizen seeking to immigrate generally must be sponsored by a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident immediate relative(s), or prospective U.S. employer, and have an approved petition before applying for an immigrant visa. The sponsor begins the process by filing a petition on the foreign citizen’s behalf with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
If you wish to enter the United States and reside there indefinitely, you will require an immigrant visa. This is true regardless of whether or not you intend to work.
If you wish to marry a U.S. citizen in the United States and take up indefinite residence after marriage, you will require a fiancé(e) visa. You are eligible to apply for a fiancé(e) visa if:
- You and your fiancé(e) are both legally free to marry; and
- You will marry within 90 days of entering the United States on the fiancé(e) visa.
If you meet the criteria for a fiance visa, your U.S. citizen fiancé(e) visa is required to file a petition, form I-129F on your behalf with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
Employment based immigration is divided into five categories. In most cases a job offer from a U.S. based employer is required in order to qualify.
- First Preference: Priority Workers – Persons of extraordinary ability in the sciences, education, arts, business or athletics: outstanding professors and researchers & certain multinational executives & managers.
- Second Preference: Members of “The Professions”, Persons with exceptional ability in the sciences, arts and business – Defined as a member of the professions holding an advanced degree or equivalent, or baccalaureate degree plus at least 5 years of progressive experience in the specialty, and persons of exceptional ability in the sciences, arts and business.
- Third Preference: Professionals – A person who holds a baccalaureate degree and who is a member of the professions and Skilled and Unskilled Workers – Skilled workers with at least two years training or experience and unskilled workers whose skills are in short supply in the United States.
- Fourth Preference: There are many sub groups within this category such as
- Broadcasters in the U.S. employed by the International Broadcasting Bureau of the Broadcasting Board of Governors or a grantee of such organization
- Ministers of Religion
- Certain Employees or Former Employees of the U.S. Government Abroad - Must use Form DS-1884, Petition To Classify Special Immigrant Under INA 203(b)(4) As An Employee Or Former Employee of the U.S. Government Abroad
- Certain Former Employees of the Panama Canal Company or Canal Zone Government
- Certain Former Employees of the U.S. Government in the Panama Canal Zone
- Certain Former Employees of the Panama Canal Company or Canal Zone Government on April 1st, 1979
- Iraqi and Afghan interpreters/translators who have worked directly with the United States armed forces or under Chief of Mission authority as a translator/interpreter for a period of at least 12 months and meet requirements. This classification has an annual numeric limitation of 50 visas. See Special Immigrant Visas for Iraqi and Afghan Translators/Interpreters for more information.
- Iraqi and Afghan nationals who have provided faithful and valuable service while employed by or on behalf of the U.S. government in Iraq for not less than one year on or after March 20th, 2003 and prior to September 30, 2013, or while employed by, or on behalf of the U.S. government, the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), or a successor mission in Afghanistan for a period of not less than one year between October 7th, 2001 and December 31, 2023, and have experienced an ongoing serious threat as a consequence of that employment. See Special Immigrant Visas for Iraqis - Worked for/on behalf of the U.S. Government and Afghans - Worked for/on behalf of the U.S. Government for more information.
- Certain Foreign Medical Graduates (Adjustments Only)
- Certain Retired International Organization Employees
- Certain Unmarried Sons and Daughters of International Organization Employees
- Certain Surviving Spouses of deceased International Organization Employees
- Special Immigrant Juveniles (no family member derivatives; Adjustments Only)
- Persons Recruited Outside of the United States Who Have Served or are Enlisted to Serve in the U.S. Armed Forces
- Certain retired NATO-6 civilians
- Certain Unmarried Sons and Daughters of NATO-6 civilians
- Certain Surviving Spouses of deceased NATO-6 civilian employees
- Persons who are beneficiaries of petitions or labor certification applications filed prior to September 11th, 2001, if the petition or application was rendered void due to a terrorist act on September 11th, 2001
- Certain Religious Workers
- Fifth Preference: Investors may qualify for employment creation immigrant visas if they seek to enter the United States for the purpose of establishing a new commercial enterprise.
You will qualify as an immigrant investor, if you can invest, without borrowing, the following minimum qualifying capital dollar amounts in a qualifying commercial enterprise:
- $1,000,000 (U.S.); or
- $500,000 (U.S.) in a high-unemployment or rural area, considered a targeted employment area.
A qualifying investment must, within two years, create full-time jobs for at least 10 U.S. citizens, Lawful Permanent Residents, or other immigrants authorized to work in the United States, not including the investor and the investor’s spouse, sons, or daughters.
The applicant must be the beneficiary of an approved a Special Immigrant, with the exception of Certain Employees or Former Employees of the U.S. Government Abroad.
Returning Resident Visa
Lawful Permanent Residents (LPR) or Conditional Residents (CR) who have remained outside the United States for longer than twelve months, or two years if holding a Re-entry Permit, may be eligible for Returning Resident Status if they meet specific requirements.
- You may be eligible for Returning Resident Status if you meet the following requirements:
- You departed the United States with the intention of returning and have not abandoned this intention;
- You are returning to the United States from a temporary visit abroad; and
- You can demonstrate that the reasons for remaining abroad were beyond your control and for which you were not responsible.
Diversity Visa Program
Section 203(c) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) provides for a class of immigrants known as “diversity immigrants” from countries with historically low rates of immigration to the United States. A limited number of visas are available each fiscal year through the Diversity Visa (DV) Program, which is popularly known as the Green Card lottery.
Intercountry adoption is one of the Department of State’s highest priorities. We believe it should be an option for children in need of permanent homes when it is in the best interest of the child and domestic solutions have been given due consideration. Each year, thousands of U.S. citizens adopt children from abroad, and families habitually resident in other countries also adopt children from the United States.
Intercountry adoption is the process by which you adopt a child from a country other than your own through permanent legal means and then bring that child to your country of residence to live with you permanently. This website can give you valuable information about intercountry adoptions, from starting the process to post-adoption information.
The chart below contains many different purposes of permanently travel and the related immigrant visa categories available under the Immigrant Visa Category of the USA.
|Immediate Relative & Family Sponsored||Visa Category|
|Spouse of a U.S. Citizen||IR1,CR1|
|Spouse of a U.S. Citizen awaiting approval of an I-130 immigrant petition||K-3|
|Fiancé(e) to marry U.S. Citizen & live in U.S.||K-1|
|Intercountry Adoption of Orphan Children by U.S. Citizens||IR3,IH3,IR4,IH4|
|Certain Family Members of U.S. Citizens||IR2,CR2,IR5,F1,F3,F4|
|Certain Family Members of Lawful Permanent Residents||F2A,F2B|
|Employer Sponsored – Employment|
Employment-Based Immigrants, including their preference group number (in square brackets):
|Iraqi and Afghan Translators/Interpreters||SI|
|Iraqis Who Worked for/on Behalf of the U.S. Government||SQ|
|Afghans Who Worked for/on Behalf of the U.S. Government|
|Other Immigrants||Other Immigrants|
|Diversity Immigrant Visa|