Who Needs a Visa?

A citizen of a foreign country who wishes to enter the United States must generally apply for a visa. In certain cases, some foreigners are exempt from having to obtain a visa. There are two types of visas: non-immigrant (temporary visas) and immigrant visas. Some of the most common non-immigrant visas are: visitor visas, work visas, and treaty trader/investor visas.

Immigrant Visas

An immigrant visa is required of anyone who wishes to enter the United States to permanently reside in the country. Immigrant visas are issued in four general categories: immediate relative, family preference category, employment preference category, and the Diversity Immigrant Visa Program, commonly known as the “green card” lottery.

Non-Immigrant Visas

Visitor Visa

There are two types of visitor visas: business visas (B-1) and tourist visas (B-2). The B-1 visa may be appropriate in the case where the individual wishes to travel to meet with business associates, negotiate contracts, litigate or attend a business/professional convention. An individual may be granted a B-2 visa if he/she is traveling to the United States for pleasure or medical treatment.

Work Visa

There are several categories of visas for individuals who wish to work in the United States. The H-1B visas are for individuals in a specialty occupation that generally requires a bachelor’s degree. The L visa is available for foreign companies with a business presence in the U.S. who intend to transfer employees to the U.S. for a limited period of time in a managerial, executive or specialized knowledge capacity. The O-1 visa is open to individuals with extraordinary ability or achievement in the sciences, arts, education, business or athletics. Professionals from Mexico have the option of working in the United States as a NAFTA Professional under the TN visa. Canadian professionals also qualify as NAFTA Professionals and normally do not need to apply for a visa.

Treaty & Investor Visa

A national of a country which the United States holds a treaty of commerce and navigation may enter the U.S. to carry on substantial trade between the United States and the treaty country (E-1), or to develop and direct a business in which the national has invested or investing (E-2).

Non-Immigrant Visas Include:

A Visa
Diplomats and foreign government officials
C Visa
Transit aliens
D Visa
F Visa
Academic students
G Visa
Employees of international organizations
I Visa
Representatives of foreign media
J Visa
Exchange visitors (Au pair, interns, physicians, professors, teacher, etc.)
K Visa
Fiancés, fiancées and spouses of U.S. citizens
M Visa
Vocational students
Employees of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO)
P Visa
Artists, athletes, and entertainers
Q Visa
International cultural exchange visitors
R Visa
Religious workers
S Visa
Aliens providing critical information to U.S. law enforcement
T Visa
Victims of human trafficking
U Visa
Victims of criminal activity
V Visa
Spouses/children of permanent residents awaiting availability of immigrant visas (only available for renewal) Diplomats and foreign government officials

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