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Visas

Visas

Visit the U.S.

Generally, if you want to visit and do not live in the United States you must first obtain a visitor visa. Travelers from certain countries may be exempt from this requirement as per Visa Waiver Program.

If you would like to travel to the United States for reasons other than business or pleasure, you must apply for a visa in the appropriate category.  This includes if you want to study, train, work, invest, etc., You can get help in determining which visa you need by selecting the appropriate visa category on our home page.

Most Canadian citizens and many citizens from Visa Waiver Program countries can come to the U.S. without a visa if they meet certain requirements. Visit Travel Without a Visa to learn more.

There are various types of nonimmigrant visas for temporary visitors to travel to the U.S., if you are not a U.S. citizen or U.S. lawful permanent resident. The purpose of your intended travel and other facts will determine what type of visa is required under U.S. immigration law. It's important to have information about the type of nonimmigrant visa you will need for travel, and the steps required to apply for the visa at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate abroad.

Review the chart below. For more detailed information specific to each visa category, including how-to-apply information and more, select a link from the Visa Type column below.

DOL - U.S. Department of Labor - The U.S. employer must obtain foreign labor certification from the DOL, prior to filing a petition with USCIS.

USCIS - U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, An approval of a petition or application is required by USCIS in the visa category you plan to apply for.

SEVIS - Student and Exchange Visitor Information System - Program approval entered in the SEVIS.

N/A - Not Applicable - That additional approval by other government agencies is not required prior to applying for a visa at the U.S. Embassy abroad.

 

 

Purpose of Travel to U.S. & Nonimmigrant Visas

(In Alphabetical Order)

Visa Type

Required:        Before Applying

for Visa  

Athletes, amateur & professional (compete for prize money only)                                                                                   

 B-1

 N/A

Au pairs - Exchange visitor

 J

SEVIS

Australian professional specialty 

 E-3

 DOL

Border Crossing Card: Mexico 

 BCC

 N/A

Business visitors 

 B-1

 N/A

Crewmembers 

 D

 N/A

Diplomats and foreign government officials 

 A

 N/A

Domestic employees or nanny -must be accompanying a foreign national employer 

 B-1

 N/A

Employees of a designated international organization, and NATO 

G-1, G-5, NATO

 N/A

Exchange visitors 

 J

SEVIS

Extraordinary Ability in Sciences, Arts, Education, Business or Athletics

 O

 USCIS

Foreign military personnel stationed in the U.S. 

A-2, NATO-6  

 N/A

Free Trade Agreement (FTA) Professionals: Chile, Singapore 

H-1B1 - Chile, H-1B1 - Singapore

 

International cultural exchange visitors 

 Q

 USCIS

Intra-company transferees 

 L

 USCIS

Medical treatment, visitors for 

 B-2

 N/A

Media, journalists 

 I

 N/A

NAFTA professional workers: Mexico, Canada 

TN, TD

 N/A

Performing athletes, artists, entertainers 

 P

 USCIS

Physician 

 J, H-1B

 SEVIS

Professor, scholar, teacher (exchange visitor) 

 J

 SEVIS

Religious workers 

 R

 USCIS

Specialty occupations in fields requiring highly specialized knowledge 

 H-1B

DOL > USCIS

Students - Academic, Vocational 

 F, M

 SEVIS

Temporary agricultural workers 

 H-2A

DOL > USCIS

Temporary workers performing other services or labor of a temporary or seasonal nature. 

 H-2B

DOL > USCIS

Tourism, vacation, pleasure visitors 

 B-2

 N/A

Training in a program not primarily for employment 

 H-3

 USCIS

Treaty traders/treaty investors 

 E

 N/A

Transiting the United States 

 C

 N/A

Victims of Criminal Activity 

 U

 USCIS

 Victims of Human Trafficking

 T

 USCIS

 

Note: The chart includes nonimmigrant visas and the associated purpose of travel with links to relevant webpages. However, it should be noted this chart is not a complete list of all purposes of travel or types of nonimmigrant visas. Each visa applicant must meet the eligibility requirements for the type of visa for which he/she is applying, as determined by the consular officer at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate, following U.S. immigration laws. See more detailed information on DOS or USCIS websites. 

 

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