US Immigration Visa Types for Aliens

Non-immigrant visas permit foreigners to remain in the United States for a specific duration with different limitations, depending on the type of visa they posses. An immigrant visa (green card), on the other hand, permits a foreigner to reside permanently and work in the United States so long as he meets certain conditions. Here are the most common types of non-immigrant visas:




The B-1 Visa is for temporary visitors for business. U.S. employment not authorized.                              


The B-2 Visa is for temporary visitors for pleasure.  U.S. employment not authorized. 

E-1 and E-2

The E-1/E-2 visas are for treaty traders and treaty investors, their spouses and children. (Applies only to citizens of certain countries with a treaty of trade and commerce with the U.S.


The E-3 visa status is offered to Australian citizens who have an offer of employment in the United States in a specialty occupation.  Applies to those who hold a bachelors degree relevant to the job duties.


The E-3D visa is for a wife or spouse of an E-3 visa holder. Spouse may apply for work authorization.


The F-1 visa is for students who intend to complete their coursework in the United States.  Optional practical training (work permit) issued upon graduation.


The F-2 visa is for a spouse or child of student.

H Classification

The H classification includes various visa categories. The H-1B visa is for professionals in a specialty occupation; the H-1C visa is for nurses working in medically under served areas; H-2A is for temporary or seasonal agricultural workers in short supply; the H-2B classification is for temporary or seasonal non-agricultural workers in short supply; H-3 is for trainees. Spouses and dependents of H visa holders qualify for the H-4 status.


In order to qualify for an H-1B visa, the intended employment must be in a specialty occupation. To establish that a job qualifies as a specialty occupation, the position must meet the following standards; (a) requires a bachelors degree or higher for entry into the profession; (b) the degree requirement is common to the industry or the position is so complex or unique that it can be performed only by an individual with a degree; (c) the employer normally requires a degree or its equivalent for the position; or that the nature of the specific duties is so specialized and complex that the knowledge required to perform the duties is usually associated with the attainment of a bachelors degree or higher.


H-1C visa status is for registered nurses who will work for up to three years in health professional shortage areas (HPSA).


Temporary non-professional wokers temporarily performing services for which no qualified U.S. candidates may be found.  Labor certification is required.


The H-2A visa status is for temporary agricultural workers. 


The H-2B visa status is for temporary non-agricultural workers: skilled and unskilled.


H-3 Trainee visa. Available for up to two years for individuals who wish to come to the United States for training by the petitioning organization.


The H-4 visa is for the spouse or child of alien classified as H-1, H-2, or H-3.


J-1 Exchange Visitor Visa.  May be available to students, medical interns, medical residents, company trainess, scholars and others.  Sometimes, a J-1 visa holder is required to return to his home country for two years before a different visa can be issued to him or her.


The J-2 visa status is for the spouse or child of exchange (J-1) visitor holder.


K-1 Fiance visa is for fiances of U.S. citizen.  Marriage must occur within 90 days of entry.


K-2 visa status is for dependents of a K-1 visa holder. 


Temporary visa for spouse of a U.S. citizen (LIFE Act).


Child of K-3 visa holder (LIFE Act).


L-1 Visa - Intra company transferee.  Executive, managerial, and specialized personnel continuing employment with an international firm or corporation with office, branch or affiliation in the United States.


L-1A Visa- This is for an intracompany transferee who is an executive or managerial positon.


L-1B Visa - Available for intracompany transferees with specialized knowledge.


Spouse or minor child of an alien classifed L-1.


Vocational student or other non-academic student.


Spouse or child of M-1.


O-1 Visa - Aliens of extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics, who must demonstrate sustained national or international acclaim. 


O-2 Visa: Aliens accompanying O-1 holders.


O-3 Visa: Spouse or child of O-1 or O-2 visa holder.

P Status

P Visa Status: Performing artists and athletes.  Available for athletes performing at an internationally recognized level of performance; entertainers in an international group recognized as outstanding.

Q Status

Cultural exchange visitors.  Available for individuals who will participate in a cultural exchange program.

R Status

R Visa status: Available for ministers, professional workers in religious vocations and occupations, and other religious personnel working for non-profit religious organizations.


TN Visa Status: Trade visas for Canadians and Mexicans.


Spouse or child accompanying TN visa holder.


Temporary protected status.

U Visa

Victims of certain qualifying criminal activity.


Spouse of an LPR who is the principal beneficiary of a familly-based petition (Form I-130) which was filed prior to December 21, 2000, and has been pending for at least three years.


Child of an LPR who is the principal beneficiary of a  familly-based petition (Form I-130) which was filed prior to December 21, 2000, and has been pending for at least three years.


The derivative child of a V-1 or V-2.

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