Individuals who want to visit the United States of America must first obtain a visa, which can be a nonimmigrant visa for short stay or an immigrant visa for permanent residence. The type of US visa you need will depend upon the purpose of your visit to the United States.
The Different US Visa Types:
Common Nonimmigrant Visas
Foreign nationals who wish to stay in the United States for a limited period of time and for a specific purpose are issued nonimmigrant visas. These types of US visas are categorized as tourist, business, student or specialty worker document.
Business/Tourist Visa – B1 and B2 visas are nonimmigrant US visas issued to travel to the United States for temporary reasons.
- B-1 Visa (Business) – The purpose of travel should be for professional/business reasons such as to attend meetings, conference or event, negotiate a contract, consult with business associates, buy or sell estate or participate in short-term training.
- B-2 Visa (Tourist) – The purpose of travel should be for personal reasons such as tourism, visit family or friends, undergo medical treatment or to participate in musical, sports or social events. Other then business or tourist, you are not allowed to study, work, undertake paid performances, or live permanently in the United States.
- H-1B Visa – Designed for persons to perform services in a specialty occupation and can include fashion models of dignified merit, government research and development or co-production projects by the department of Defense. Applicants must have theoretical and practical application of a body of highly specialized knowledge and a bachelor’s degree or higher degree (or equivalent).
- H-1B1 Visa – This is a temporary work visa especially designed for Singapore citizens who want to live and work in the US along with their partners and children.
- H-2A Visa – Issued for seasonal and temporary agricultural workers. This visa is issued to citizens/nationals of designated countries with limited exceptions.
- H-2B Visa – Issued for seasonal and temporary non-agricultural workers (skilled and unskilled workers). This visa is issued to citizens/nationals of designated countries with limited exceptions.
- H-3 Visa – Issued to trainees or special education visitors to receive training that is not available in their home country.
- H-4 Visa – Issued to dependent family members of H-1B visa holders who would like to accompany the H-1B visa holder to the US during their stay.
- L-1 Visa – Issued to intra company transferees to work at a branch, parent, affiliate, or subsidiary of the current employer in a managerial or executive capacity, or in a position requiring specialized knowledge.
- L-2 Visa– Issued to dependent family members of L-1 visa holders who would like to accompany the H-1B visa holder to the US during their stay.
- Type O Visa – Issued to individuals with extraordinary achievement in the sciences, arts, education, business, athletics, demonstrated by national or international acclaim.
- Type P Visa – Issued to team athlete, artist or entertainer (individual or group) to perform, teach or coach under a program that is culturally unique or a traditional ethnic, folk, cultural, musical, theatrical, or artistic performance or presentation.
- Type Q Visa – Issued to participants in an International Cultural Exchange Program for practical training and employment and for sharing of the history, culture, and traditions of your home country.
- F-1 Visa – issued to academic students who intend to study in the United States at an elementary, middle, or high school, college, university, or seminary. The requirements for getting an F-1 visa is getting accepted to an academic institution, having sufficient money to pay for tuition and living expenses and intending to leave the US at the end of the education. The validity is given by the school/university in the I-20 form. Students are free to apply for extensions and change the institution or type of program as they wish.
- J-1 Visa – Issued to individuals to participate in specific educational exchange program of study, research or teaching. The purpose of the J-1 Exchange Program is to provide students with opportunities to participate in educational and cultural programs in the US and return home to share their experiences. It is the most common visa among professors and researchers and also for special programs such as Au Pair. Issued for maximum period of 1 year.
- M-1 Visa – Issued to international students for attending a non-academic or vocational training program in the US. Though, this type of student visa is issued for a period of 1 year, students can request for extension for a maximum stay of up to 3 years. The application process of M-1 visa and F-1 visa is the same.
Transit Visa (C Visa) – Issued to individuals passing through the US on their way to another country, particularly when they need to change airports in the US.
Ship Crew Visa (D Visa) – Issued to crew members working aboard sea vessels or airlines in the United States.
Religious Worker Visa (R1 Visa) – Issued to religious workers to live and work within an established religious denomination in the US in a role that is associated with the traditional works of that church or denomination (priests, ministers, catechists, temple workers, rabbis among others). In order to be eligible for the visa, the applicant must work for a reputed and recognized religious institution.
Domestic Employee Visa – Issued to persons who are accompanying their employer to the United States. The applicant may be eligible for a B1 visa. This category includes housemaids, cleaners, cooks, butlers, nannies, au pairs, chauffeurs, valets, footmen, mothers’ helpers, gardeners, and any other persons providing personal care to the Employer and his/her family.
Journalist and Media Visa (I Visa) – Issued to employees of foreign media to engage in their profession while having their home office in a foreign country. This visa category includes journalists for television radio and outlets, reporters for foreign magazines and newspapers and representatives of the electronic media such as producers, editors, crews and persons in similar professions.
Immigrant Visas (Green Card)
Foreign nationals who wish to live permanently and work in the United States are required to obtain Immigrant visas. This visa category permits the applicant to apply for lawful permanent resident (LPR) status (green card).
- EB-1 – Known as the Extraordinary Ability green card, this visa is Issued to persons of extraordinary ability in the arts, sciences, medicine, education, business or athletics, outstanding professors and researchers and multi-national executives and managers. The EB-1 visa is issued to individuals who have risen to the very top of their field of endeavor and their achievements have been recognized through extensive documentation. Includes Nobel Prize winners or similar awards.
- EB-2 – This second preference Employment-based green card category visa is issued to persons with exceptional expertise in the arts, science, medicine or business or professions with advanced degrees (or equivalent). Applicants are categorized based on their skills, background and knowledge.
- EB-3 – The third priority worker visa is issued to skilled workers, professionals and unskilled workers. The requirements for this type of Immigrant visa is less stringent than an EB-1 or EB-2 visa. Holders of EB-3 visa must have a permanent offer of employment from the US Employer.
- EB-4 – The Employment-based fourth visa category is issued to special Immigrants including religious workers, broadcasters in the US, armed forced members, Panama canal zone employees, employees of US government abroad, physicians and Afghan/Iraqi translators among others.
- EB-5 – Also known as Immigrant Investor program, the Employment based fifth preference visa is an employment based green card category permitting foreign investors to obtain permanent residency in the US. The holders are granted green card which allows them to permanently live and work in the States. Investors must make the required capital investment (typically either $900,000 or $1.8 million) in a US business.
Need more information? Let us help you pick the right USA Visa.
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