Each American Embassy and Consulate has different visa application procedures
and requirements. It is essential to check with the individual Embassy or Consulate
at which you intend to apply.
Applicants should be aware that approval by the Citizenship and Immigration Service
or sponsoring entity does not guarantee issuance of a visa. The consular officer,
under the authority of the Department of State, may deny the visa. Moreover, issuance
of a visa does not guarantee entry into the U.S. At the Port of Entry (POE), an immigration
inspector must authorize the traveler's admission to the U.S., and such inspector
has the authority to deny admission in accordance with U.S. immigration laws and
Note about Canadian citizens
Canadian citizens are subject to different visa and passport requirements than
other foreign nationals. Accordingly, some of the following application procedures,
eligibility requirements, etc. will differ for beneficiaries possessing Canadian
citizenship. Consultation with a licensed immigration attorney is recommended for
those for whom these exceptions might apply.
Overview of Most Common Non-immigrant Visas
Generally, in order to travel to the United States, a foreign national must first
obtain a visa that grants the holder permission to travel to the U.S. for purposes
specified on the visa. In order to obtain a visa, a person must apply for a visa
at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate in their home country. If approved, the inspector
will issue the traveler a visa that will indicate the length of time it is valid
for use of travel to the United States. Please note: the expiration date on the visa
does not denote the time a holder may remain in the U.S., but rather only the time
s/he may use the visa to seek permission (travel) to enter.
Learn more about Visa Issuance >>
B-1/ B-2 Visitor Visa
B-1 and B-2 visa classification is available to foreign born nationals
who wish to enter the U.S. temporarily for business (B-1), or for pleasure
or medical treatment (B-2). A B-1 or B-2 visa may only be used
for the stated purpose or intent. Except under very limited circumstances, persons
planning to travel to the U.S. for any other purpose such as study, employment, training,
etc., must apply for a different visa in the appropriate category, even if they already
possess a valid B visa.) Moreover, a person may not hold more than one Non-immigrant
visa classifications at a time, including B-1/B-2.
Learn more about Visa Issuance >>
Visa Waiver Program
The Visa Waiver Program is available to foreign nationals from certain eligible
countries who wish to enter the U.S. temporarily for pleasure. Eligible foreign nationals
may travel to visit the U.S. for pleasure without obtaining a Department of State
(or consulate) issued-visa using the Visa Waiver Program. Currently, twenty-eight
countries participate in the Visa Waiver Program: Andorra, Australia, Australia,
Belgium, Brunei, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan,
Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Monaco, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal,
San Marino, Singapore, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and
Learn more about Visa Waiver Program >>
E-1 Treaty Trader
E-1 visa classification is available to treaty traders and their employees who
wish to enter the U.S. temporarily to carry on substantial trade between the U.S.
and their home country, if their country of citizenship has a treaty with the U.S.
that allows for the issuance of such visas.
Learn more about E-1 Treaty Trader Program >>
E-2 Treaty Investor
E-2 visa classification is available foreign investors who invest in a substantial
amount of capital in a U.S. enterprise, and who wish to enter the U.S. temporarily
to develop and direct the enterprise into which they have invested, if their country
of citizenship has a treaty with the U.S. that allows for the issuance of such visas.
Learn more about E-2 Treaty Trader Program >>
F-1 Academic Student
F-1 visa classification is available to foreign nationals who wish to enter the
U.S. temporarily to study at accredited academic institutions, and for whom the proposed
course of study qualifies as a full-time study. The requisite course load for full-time
study varies depending on the level of study sought and the credit allotment or term
division system utilized by the respective academic institution or English language
program at which study is sought.
Learn more about F-1 Academic Student >>
H-1B Specialty Occupation
H-1B visa classification is available to foreign nationals who wish to enter the
U.S. temporarily to work for U.S. employers in a specialty occupation. A specialty
occupation is defined as an occupation that requires highly specialized knowledge
and a minimum of a U.S. or U.S. equivalent bachelor's degree in a related field of
study. (In certain cases, documented work experience may be factored into an equivalency
finding in lieu of a bachelor's degree.)
Common specialty occupations include, but are not limited to those professional
positions found in the fields of: accounting, architecture, business specialties,
computer specialties, engineering, education, law, mathematics, medicine and health,
physical sciences, social sciences, and theology. Other professions may also qualify
as specialty occupations.
Learn more about H-1B Specialty Occupation >>
J-1 Exchange Visitors
J-1 visa classification is available to foreign nationals who wish to enter the
U.S. temporarily to participate in an exchange visitor program designed to promote
the interchange of persons, knowledge, and skills in the fields of arts, business,
education, and sciences. Participants include a variety of fields and J-1 program
classifications including, but not limited to the following: trainees in professional,
business, industrial and/or medical and allied fields; students, teachers and professors
and research scholars; nonacademic specialists, international and government visitors,
camp counselors and au pairs.
Learn more about J-1 Exchange Visitors >>
K-1 Fiancé(e) of U.S. Citizen
K-1 visa classification is available to any foreign national who is engaged to
marry a U.S. citizen. The visa, as issued by the consulate abroad, may be used to
enter the U.S. for the purpose of marrying a U.S. citizen within a very strict ninety-day
window following entry. Within that 90-day period, the U.S. citizen and the foreign
national must be married, after which the foreign national spouse may apply for permanent
resident status in the U.S.
Learn more about K-1 Fiancé(e) of U.S. Citizen
L-1 Intra-company Transferee
L-1 visa classification is available to foreign workers who work for multinational
companies doing business in the U.S., and who wish to temporarily enter the U.S.
to perform services either in a managerial or executive capacity (L-1A) or services
that require specialized knowledge (L-1B) for a U.S.-based parent, branch, subsidiary
or affiliate of the same company that employed the foreign worker abroad.
Learn more about L-1 Intra-company Transferee >>
O-1 Alien of Extraordinary Ability
O-1 visa classification is available to foreign nationals of extraordinary ability
in the sciences, arts, education, business, athletics or motion picture and television
production who wish to temporarily enter the U.S. for continuing work in their field
of extraordinary ability. Visa classification is also available for necessary support
personnel in qualifying circumstances.
Learn more about O-1 Alien of Extraordinary Ability
P-1 Athletes and Group Entertainers
P-1 visa classification is available to foreign nationals who wish to come to
the U.S. temporarily to: 1) perform as an athlete, individually or as part of a group
or team, at an internationally recognized level of performance; or 2) perform as
a member of a foreign-based entertainment group that has been recognized internationally
as outstanding in the discipline for a sustained and substantial period of time.
Please note: solo musicians or singers are not eligible for P visas;
they must apply for O-1 visas.
Learn more about P-1 Athletes and Group Entertainers
R-1 Religious Workers
R-1 visa classification is available for foreign religious workers who wish to
enter the U.S. temporarily to work in for a qualifying religious organization as
a minister, professional or other religious worker.
Learn more about R-1 Religious Workers >>
TN Treaty NAFTA Professionals
TN visa classification is available to certain Canadian and Mexican nationals
who are qualified to work as a professional as defined by the the 1994 North American
Free Trade Agreement ("NAFTA").
Learn more about TN Treaty NAFTA Professionals >>