Understanding the main types of visas

  • Jan 23 2017

Visas are the ticket many people are seeking to get to the United States and, in some cases, start working. If you are interested in applying for one, you will quickly see that the number of options can be overwhelming. In total, there are approximately 185 types, but they can all be categorized into two primary groups: immigrant and nonimmigrant. Of the latter category, there are four types that you may be eligible for.


Nonimmigrant visas may be granted to anybody who would like to pursue study in the United States. If you have been accepted to study at a university, for example, this visa would be the appropriate choice. It may also be applicable to students who wish to attend high school, seminary or language training programs. Aspiring students can apply through the U.S. Embassy or consulate by furnishing their identification, passport and supporting documents.


People who wish to enter the United States for work can do so by applying for either a temporary worker visa or a green card. The latter grants permanent resident status and is intended for applicants who possess extraordinary ability or talent. The former, however, is available to people in categories such as intracompany transferee, temporary agricultural worker, team athletes or a person in a specialty occupation.


Visitors who wish to spend an extended period in the United States for a vacation or other leisurely engagement can apply for a visa on the basis of tourism. This category, classified as either B-2 or B-1/B-2, is intended for visitors who will visit as tourists and has a six month permitted period of stay. It is valid, however, from one to ten years. If your stay is strictly for pleasure, you will be eligible for a B-2 application, but if you are also planning to conduct business in the U.S., you should apply for the combined B-1/B-2.


The B-1 visa is intended for visitors who are coming to the country exclusively for commercial purposes. If you are meeting with potential clients or visiting a company, for example, this type of visa would be the appropriate choice to apply for. As with a tourist visa, however, you can also apply for a combined B-1/B-2 for a visit including both business and personal ordeals.

If you are considering applying for a visa, already have one or if yours has expired, you have legal options available. You can learn more about them by reaching out to a lawyer.

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