US Visa Guide: The Different Types Of US Visas You Should Know About

Types of US Visas: The US Visa is the most powerful visa in the world. One way or another we have heard about the US Visa. Maybe we applied or a friend or a family member applied. If you or a family member got accepted it means you or they applied for the right US Visa and answer all questions correctly at the level of the American embassy. If you got rejected, one of the reasons might be you applied for the wrong visa.

types of us visas
types of us visas

Imagine applying for a Tourist Visa and telling them at the embassy how you want to go and study. Will you be given a US Visa? No way!

In this post, we cover all the different types of US Visas that you can apply for.

What are the different Categories of US Visas?

There are two categories of US Visas; the non-immigrant visa and the Immigrant visa

Non-immigrant Visa

Meaning you will not be staying permanently in the US. Non-immigrant visas are visas that most business people, tourists, students apply for. When applying for the non-immigrant visa you have to prove to the consular officer at the US Embassy that you will return to your home country after your temporal stay in the United State Of America

Immigrant Visa

Implying you are going to be staying permanently in the US.

What are the Different Types of US Visas You Must Know?

1. Type A Visa – For Diplomats and Foreign Government Officials

The A visa is the visa type that is granted only to diplomats and foreign government officials traveling to the USA for official Duties or representing the government fo their country.

2. A-2 – NATO1-6 Visa

The main purpose of the A-2 NATO-1-6 Visa is granted only to foreign military personnel who are to serve or are stationed in the United States

3. Tourist or Business Visa

The Tourist or Business Visa is further divided into 2 types. which are

3.1. B-1 Visa

The B-1 visa is the visa type granted to those who want to enter the USA for business. This can be people attending scientific research, people going for business conventions, Settling estates or negotiating contracts.

3.2. B-2 Visa

B-2 Visas is the type of us visa that can be granted to people going for pleasure(tourism) or for medical treatment.

4. Work Visa

For you to be able to live and work in the USA on a temporal basis, you are going to need a particular type of visa based on your job description. There are different categories of US Work Visas. We have the H, L, O, P and Q categories. To be eligible, you need your petition approved by USCIS. Form I-129 must get approved before you can apply for a US Work Visa at the Consulate. After that, your employer will receive Form I-797 which serves as your petition approval notification. While going for your interview at the consulate, it is obligatory to carry along your I-129 form and a copy of the I-797 form.

Types of US Work Visas

We are going to cover 10 types of US Work Visas

I. H1-B US Visa For Specialty Occupation

In order for you to get granted for an H1-B US Visa, you are required to be a holder of a Bachelor’s degree in specific specialties. The USCIS will then verify if your job constitutes a specialty occupation and if you qualify to perform the job. Your employer also needs to file a labor condition application with the Department of Labor in the United States with regard to the terms and conditions of your contract.

II. H-2A Work Visa

This US Visa is the one that permits U.S employers to bring foreigners to fill temporary jobs in the agricultural sectors when US workers are not available. In this case, the Employer has to file a petition Form I-129 on your behalf. Indians are not eligible for this visa type.

III. H2-B Work Visa

This type of US work Visa is granted to people who want to fill up a temporary or seasonal job in the U.S when there is a shortage of workers. Also, this visa type is not granted to Indians.

IV. H-3 Work Visa

This type of work visa is granted to you if you are coming to the U.S to receive training in an occupational field from an employer. This visa is for a period of up to 2 years. You can get paid for the training but this should not be used to provide productive employment.

V. H-4 Work Visa for Dependents

If you have been granted an H Visa, your spouses and unmarried children under the age of 21 may be granted and H-4 Visa so that they can accompany you to the U.S. But it is important to note that they are not permitted to work in the U.S with this Visa

VI. L-1 Work Visa

This type of visa is granted to or required by an individual who works for an international company. The visa is required if the parent branch of the company is transferring you on a temporary basis to the U.S. In order to qualify for the L-1 Visa, you must be at a managerial or executive level of the company. Also, you must have a special skill set or knowledge in the position you are to hold in the United States Of America. Most Importantly, you must be an employee with this international company continuously for one year within the 3 years preceding the application for admission to the U.S.

VII. L-2 for Dependents

If you are a valid holder of the L-1 Visa your spouses and unmarried children under the age of 21 may be awarded and L-2 Visa to enter the U.S. For your Spouse to gain employment in the U.S, they will have to submit a completed Form I-765 alongside the application fee. Your children, on the other hand, are not allowed to work in the U.S under this type of work Visa.

VIII. Type O Visa

This visa type is required if you are an individual with extraordinary ability in science, education, arts, business, and athletics or you have extraordinary achievements in motion Picture and Television Production.

IX. Type P Visa

This type of US work visa is granted to celebrities, athletes and entertainers who are traveling to the United States to perform.

X. Type Q Visa

You are required to have this US Visa if you are traveling for an international cultural exchange program. The international cultural exchange program means you are traveling to the united states to share their history, culture, and tradition.

There you go with all the types of US visas for work let’s continue.

5. Student Visas

To apply for a US Student Visa, you need to be accepted by a school or program.. Once you get accepted, necessary approval documents will be given to you. These documents you are going to submit while applying for a student visa. Students can then apply for the visa in 120 days from the day the I-20 starts and are required to travel within 30 days from the start of the I-20. There are 2 types of student visas which are:

5.1 F-1 Student visa

This type of student visa is granted only to students who want to study in the U.S approved schools or in an approved English Language Program. This visa is mandatory if your course is more than 18 hours a week. It is issued to students attending public secondary schools and the student is limited to only 12 months at that school.

5.2 M-1 Student Visa

If you are planning to go to the U.S for non-academic or Vocational training in the US, then this is the type of student visa you are required to have. If you are a holder of the F-1 or M-1 student visa and you leave the U.S for more than 5 months, you are going to lose your visa status, unless your stay out of the USA was or is related to your course program in the US.

6. Exchange Visitor Visa

If you are a foreign citizen, you can come to the USA to participate in the exchange programs. But right before you apply for this exchange visitor visa, you must be accepted and approved by the authorized program sponsor. This Visa is usually called the J Visa and it is designed to promote knowledge interchange. Participants of the J Visa are usually

  • Teachers
  • Students at academic levels
  • Professors
  • Research scholars
  • Professional trainees
  • Visitors coming for travel, consultation, research purposes, etc.

7. Ship Crew or Transit Visa

7.1 Transit C Visa

The Transit Visa is a Visa Given to a foreign citizen traveling to a different country but passing through the U.S. Should in case this traveler needs to visit family and friends in the U.S, he is required to seek layover privileges. They have to qualify for obtaining a B-2 Visa.

7.2 Crew D Visa

These types of us visas are offered to persons who are crew members of either a sea vessel or an aircraft. Crew members mostly use both transit and crew Visa (C-1 and D Visas). For crew members who wish to enter the U.S during time offs, they will have to obtain a B-1 or B-2 Visa.

8. Religious Worker Visa (R Visa)

These types of visas are those that are granted to people who wish to work in religious fields in the U.S on a temporal basis. This religious worker will have to include people authorized by recognized entities to conduct Religious activities.

9. Domestic Employee Visa

If you are a personal or domestic servant and want to travel or accompany your employer to the united states of America, then the B-1 Visa is what you should apply for. Domestic employees fall in the following category of persons:

  • Housemaids
  • Valets
  • Footmen
  • Cooks
  • Butlers
  • Chauffeurs
  • Nannies
  • Mother’ helpers
  • Gardeners
  • Paid companions

But if you are a domestic servant of a government official or a diplomat, you are eligible for a G-5 or an A-3 Visa.

10. Media and Journalist Visa

This type of Visa is called the Media I Visa. It is granted to non-immigrants representing a foreign media. They must be traveling to the united states for a temporal period of time to engage in their job. A must factor for obtaining this Visa is that He or she traveling to the U.S should have a home office in their country.

However if the person is traveling for the following purposes, he or she is granted a Visitor’s Visa. The purposes are:

  • Attending a conference or a meeting
  • Guest lecture
  • Engaging in academic activities
  • Purchasing media equipment
  • Vacation

Also, if this person is traveling for the following purposes they are eligible for a temporary work visa: These purposes are:

  • To film material for commercial entertainment or for advertising
  • Proofreaders, librarians and set designers
  • Staged events, television and quiz shows
  • To produce artistic media content

If this Visa holder has a spouse or children under the age of 21, they can be allowed to accompany him under the B-2 Visa

All the Different Types of US visas we have mentioned above fall under the non-immigrant visa categories. The ones listed below fall under the immigrant visa category.

K-1 Visa: Fiance Visa To USA

The K-1 visa also known as the fiance visa is a visa that is given to an individual engaged to a US citizen. This Visa is given to the person to the US for 90 days. Within the 90 days, the engaged are expected to get married in order to start filing for a petition to get a spouse visa.

K-2 Visa: Children Of K-1 Visa Holders

If the holder of the K-1 Visa has unmarried children under the age of 21, they are then eligible to be holders of the K-2 Visas.

K-3 Visa: Spouse Of a Green Card Holder

the K-3 visa was created in order to reduce the time that married couples could be away from each other while waiting for a petition to be approved.

When a U.S citizen gets married to someone from a different country, they then file a petition to get a spouse Visa. Getting a spouse visa can take a bit of time before being processed. During this time the spouse from out of the US obtains a K-3 visa in order to be able to live in the U.S.

k-4 Visa: Children Of K-3 Visa Holders

This type of USA visa is intended to be given only to unmarried children under the age of 21 of K-3 visa holders. This means only the children of the spouse of the U.S Citizen.

IR-3, IH-3, IR-4, IH-4: Intercountry Adoption of Orphan Children by U.S Citizens

These US visa types are intended to be used by U.S Citizens who intend or want to adopt children from countries other than America. This visa type is divided into four categories and the children can obtain one of them.

  • IH-3 Visa: awarded to children adopted from a country on the Hague Convention. Kids who get awarded the IH-3 visa are allowed into the U.S and they get citizenship. Citizenship is given only to kids under the age of 18 upon entering the U.S for the first time.
  • IH-4 Visa: It is almost the same as the IH-3 Visa but the difference is that the children having the IH-4 visa do not get citizenship immediately only. They get citizenship only after the adoption process is complete.
  • IR-3 Visa: This visa is given to children after the adoption process has already been completed. Children with this visa type must be from countries that do not require re-adoption after the children enter America. Children under the age of 18 get automatic citizenship upon entering the US.
  • IR-4 Visa: This us visa type is for children whose adoption is going to be completed after they enter the U.S. The adopting parents become legal guardians to these children and then file for adoption process once the child is in the U.S

IR-2, CR-2, IR-5, F-1, F-3, F-4: Certain Family Members of U.S Citizens

This Visa group is usually given to family members of U.S citizens or the people they are going to marry

  • IR-2 Visa: This type of U.S visa is given to the children of IR-1 visa holders under the age of 21, that is to say, the spouse of the US citizen.
  • CR-2 Visa: This US visa is given to the unmarried children of CR-1 visa holders who are below the age of 21. For this visa to apply, the couple must be married for less than 2 years.
  • IR-5 Visa: This visa type is offered to the parents of US citizens who is older than 21 years of age.
  • F-1 Visa: This type of visa has a cap of 23,400 visas. It is given to unmarried children of U.S citizens as well as their spouses and minor children.
  • F-3 Visa: With a cap of 23,400, this visa type is available to married children of American citizens as well as their children and spouses.
  • F-4 Visa: With a cap visa of about 65,000 visas, this type of US visa is available for siblings of United States citizens, their minor children, and spouse. For this visa type to be valid, the U.S citizen must be at least 21 years of age.

F-2A, F-2B: Certain Family Members of Lawful Permanent Residents

The F-2 visa is given only to minor children, spouses and unmarried children of people with immigrant visas. There are two main categories of the F-2 visa:

  • F-2A Visa which is for Spouse and Children
  • F-2B Visa for unmarried Children

Employment Sponsored Visas

This type of immigrant visa is sponsored by employers. This allows the holder of the visa to work permanently in the U.S. The government of the united states limits the number of this type of visas to only about 140,000 per year. Employment-based visas can be categorized into the following:

Eb-1 Visa: First Priority Workers

First priority workers are those individuals that get the EB1 visa and they fall into the following categories:

  • Internationally recognized researchers and professors with outstanding portfolios.
  • Individuals who possess abilities out of the ordinary in the fields of arts, sciences, business, education, or athletics.
  • Multinational managers of an executive who have worked overseas for at least one out of the past three years for a U.S branch, subsidiary, or parent company.

EB-2 Visa: Second Priority Workers

The Category of individuals that fall under this visa type include:

  • People with extraordinary abilities in arts, business or science.
  • Professionals who have attained advanced degrees in their respective fields, may either have Bachelor’s Degree or Higher, five years of work experience in that field.

Eb-3, EW-3 Visas: Third Priority Workers

The workers that fall under this U.S visa category include:

  • EB3 Visa: Skilled workers with at least two years of experience in their profession (not seasonal or temporary workers).
  • Workers needing at least a Bachelor’s Degree to work in their field of expertise.
  • EW3 Visa: This Visa type is allocated to unskilled workers who don’t necessarily need at least two years of experience to work in that position.

EB-4 Visa: Fourth Priority Workers – Certain Special Immigrants

Workers that fall under fourth priority workers include:

  • Religious workers (SD visa and SR visa)
  • Broadcasters in the U.S
  • Current or Former employees of the U.S government
  • Iraqi employees of the U.S government (SQ visa)
  • Afghan employees of the U.S government (SQ visa)
  • Iraqi and Afghan Interpreters or Translators (SI visa)
  • Certain Foreign Medical Graduates
  • Certain family members of International Organization Employees (spouses and unmarried children), etc.

EB5 visas: Fifth Priority Workers

EB5 Visas is given only to invest who invest a sum of at least $1,000,000 or $500,000 in highly unemployed rural areas. This is then further categorized into the following:

  • C-5 visa for investors who create jobs outside of target areas
  • T-5 visas for investors who create jobs in targeted rural or high unemployment areas
  • R-5 visa for investors who participate in an Investor Pilot Program not in a target area
  • I-5 visa for investors who participate in an Investor Pilot Program in a targeted area

Types Of US Visas offered for different travel Purposes

Below is a list of all the types of visas you require before traveling to the US for different purposes.

Visa type Purpose
A Foreign government officials and diplomats
A1, G-1, NATO1-6 Visa renewals
A-2, NATO1-6 Military personnel of a foreign country stationed in the U.S.
B-1 Amateur and professional athletes who are competing for prize money

Business visitors

Nannies or domestic employees

B-2 Visitors for medical treatment

Tourists, vacationers, and pleasure visitors

BCC Mexican Border Crossing Card
C Transit in the U.S.
D Crew members serving on aircrafts

Crew members serving on sea vessels

E-1 Treaty traders
E-2 Treaty investors
E-3 Australian professionals and specialty workers
F-1 Language and academic students
F-2 Dependents of F-1 visa holders
G1- G5, NATO Designated international organization’s employees and NATO
H-1B1 Chilean FTA (Free Trade Agreement) professionals

Singaporean FTA (Free Trade Agreement) professionals

H1-B Physicians and highly specialized occupations requiring specific industry knowledge
H2-A Temporary workers for seasonal agriculture
H2-B Temporary workers for non-agricultural professions
H3 Primarily non-employment training programs
H1-C Nurses traveling to areas that have a shortage of healthcare professionals
I Information media representatives and journalists
J Exchange visitors

International cultural exchange visitors

J-1 Au-pairs exchange visitors

Professors, scholars, and teachers as exchange visitors

J-2 Children under the ages of 21/ Spouse of J-1 holder
K-1 Fiance
L Intracompany transferees
M-1 Vocational students
M-2 Dependent of M-1 holder
O-1 Foreign nationals possessing excellent knowledge and abilities in the fields of art, science, education, athletics or business
P Entertainers, artists, and athletes
Q International cultural exchange visitors
R Religious works
TN/TD Mexican and Canadian NAFTA professional workers
T-1 Human trafficking victims
U-1 Victims of crime, criminal activity

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