The United States is a popular immigration and tourist destination, but if you don’t have permanent resident status, you’ll likely need to apply for a visa. A visa can grant you entry to the US, but there are several types of visas that you can apply. Read on below to learn about the different types of US visas.
Immigrant vs Nonimmigrant
There are various types of US visas available to aliens and foreign nationals that are grouped into two main categories: immigrant visa and nonimmigrant visa.
Immigrant visas are green cards issued by United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to qualified applicants who wish to reside in the US. Applicants currently residing abroad can apply for a visa at a consular office of the Department of State. After the issuance of your US visa, you’ll be granted entry to the US and become legal immigrants after passing through the port of entry. Likewise, certain undocumented immigrants, foreign students, refugees, temporary workers, and other alien residents currently in the US can become a lawful permanent resident by filing for adjustment of status with the USCIS.
Nonimmigrant visas, on the other hand, are visas granted to tourists and visitors who’ll only be in the US for a certain period and will go back to their home country once their visa expires. Different visas are issued for business, education, employment, and tourism purposes, with each type having its procedures and qualifications.
Types of Immigrant Visas
1. Immediate Relative and Family-Based Visas
This visa category applies to family members of lawful permanent residents of the US, with visa applications available for:
- Unmarried sons and daughters and their minor children (F1 visa).
- Spouses, minor children, and unmarried children over the age of 21 (F2A and F2B visas).
- Siblings of US Citizens with their spouses and minor children (F4 visa).
- Unmarried children under 21 years old (IR2 visa).
- Parents of citizens of the US who are at least 21 years old (IR5 visa).
- Children from other countries who’ll be adopted by US citizens (IR3, IH3, IR4, and IH4 visas).
Consult an immigration attorney to know which type of family-sponsored and immediate relative visa is best for you.
2. Fiance and Spouse Visas
Fiances and spouses of US citizens can file a visa application under this category of visas. This visa type applies to:
- Fiance of lawful permanent residents of the US.
- Spouses of citizens of the United States who are currently in the process of getting permanent residency (K3 visa).
- Spouse of a US citizen (IR1 and CR1 visas).
- Children of K3 visa applicants (K4 visas).
Check the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) website or speak with an immigration lawyer for information on how to apply for a visa of this type.
3. Employment-Based Visas
If you are going to work in the US, your employer can help you get a work visa to enter the US. Employers need to get labor certification approval and file a petition for alien workers to the USCIS. There are preference categories for professionals with advanced degrees or exceptional ability, skilled and unskilled workers, and immigrant investors.
4. Diversity Lottery
The diversity immigration program is a green card lottery that allows citizens of countries with low admission to become a legal permanent resident of the US.
Types of Nonimmigrant visas
1. Business and Tourist Visas
Most of the nonimmigrant visas issued are for tourists and people engaging in business but not employment. There’s a one-year validity for both visitor visa and tourist visa (B1 and B2), and you can get a visa extension for six months.
2. Temporary Worker Visa
Temporary work visas were designed to help US businesses meet their labor needs. A foreign worker who can perform a job that couldn’t be filled by a US worker can apply for a work visa to be able to enter the US and temporarily work here.
3. Visas for Education
You can also get a visa for academic and vocational reasons. A student visa for an exchange program and non-immigrant visa for teachers, professors, and research assistants both fall under this category Discussing your case with immigration lawyers help ensure that you have the visa information you need to file your application form.
4. Visa Waiver Program
The USCIS has a visa program that allows qualified citizens of certain countries to enter the US without a visa for up to 90 days. You can check visa information online to learn about members of the program.
If you’re thinking of applying for a visa, it’s important to get legal assistance even before filing your visa application form. Our immigration attorneys at Diener Law Firm can provide legal assistance to make sure you’re taking the right steps throughout the visa application process. Call us to start your immigration journey today!