Types Of US Visas

The government of the United States issues about seven million visas every year to people that wish to pass legally the United States borders. As a result, there are many types of US visas that can be issued depending on the nationality of the visitor, his profession, as well as the reasons that he wishes to visit the States. Many developed countries, that have high-income economies, are part of the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) through which the US government allows citizens of those countries to enter the United States of America for a limited period of time (no more than three months) without a visa. Canadians, whose country has a unique relation with America also share the same privilege. If you do not belong to one of those categories, then you need one of the 185 different types of US visas in order to visit (or stay) in the States.

All these types of US visas, however, can be classified into two main categories: non-immigrant visas and immigrant visas. Non-immigrant visas are issued when you are entering the country for business reasons, for tourism and pleasure, when you have been accepted by a university to continue your studies, or when you are hired by a United States company or institution to do a certain job. Keep in mind, though, that these types of US visas are temporary, have certain limitations, and need to be renewed regularly. Immigrant visas, on the other hand, function as evidence of permanent residence in the States. If you have an immigrant visa, it means that you can come and go in the country whenever you please for whatever reasons, and it basically means that you can start a life as a legal United States citizen.

Now that you understand the basics, let’s see some very common types of US visas and what qualifies you to any of those. If you are entering the country as a student of an accredited US institution, an F-visa will be issued to you by the US government; unless you are part of student exchange program, in which case you get a J-1 visa. Assume, for a minute that you just obtained your bachelor’s from an American institution and you have been offered a job at the university: if you want to capitalize on that offer, you will have to apply for an H1-B visa. Given that you present your degree as evidence of your claims, and given that the university (as the potential employer) provides the USCIC officer with a ‘Labor Condition Application’, the officer will issue your visa. Alternatively, if the purpose of your visit is strictly business or pleasure, you will qualify for a B1 and a B2 visa respectively; you might even get a combined B1/B2 visa, if the consular officer decides that you meet the requirements for both. In the event that you are already employed by a firm that has its quarter in the US and you wish to bring along a member of your family (for instance your spouse), the government can issue certain types of US visas that will allow you to do so.

In other words, there is basically a different visa for every possible reason you wish to enter the country.