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Types of US Visas

Find out more about the various US visa types, whether you need a visa to enter the United States and which visas you could be eligible for.

Our expert immigration attorneys offer assistance with all types of US visa applications, get in touch with us today on +1 844 290 6312 for more information about our services.


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    US visa application assistance

    The US visa system is complex, but our attorneys are experts in US immigration law and have assisted many clients with their successful US visa applications.

    The US visas can be separated into two categories, immigrant visas and nonimmigrant visas. An immigrant visa will grant you permanent residence in the U.S whilst a nonimmigrant visa will only be valid for a certain period of time. The application process for an immigrant visa is usually substantially longer than for a nonimmigrant visa. However, it’s worth noting that you can still pursue permanent residence whilst you are in the USA on a nonimmigrant visa.

    The US visa application process can be difficult to understand as the process differs depending on the type of visa that you are applying for. In some circumstances you will be able to make the application yourself, but other visas may require a US sponsor such as a family member or employer, to submit a petition for entry on your behalf. You may then need to submit further application forms yourself following this.

    This complex system is why it is highly recommended that you seek the help of a professional immigration lawyer. Having the assistance of an immigration lawyer will greatly increase your chances of success and will make the application process significantly easier.

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     Non-immigrant Visas

    Visa Type Purpose
    E1 Treaty Traders
    E2 Treaty Investors
    E3 Australian professionals
    H1B Specialty workers
    H2B Temporary Workers
    H3 Exchange visitors
    H4 Dependent family members of H visa holders
    01 Entry for individuals who possess extraordinary ability in specific fields
    03 Dependent family members of 01 visa holders


    I Visa Entry for journalists and members of the media


    L1 Foreign specialized workers transferring to their company’s branch in the U.S
    L2 Dependents of L1 visa holders
    P1 Work permit for nationally and internationally recognized athletes and performers


    P3 Temporary work permit for artists, entertainers and support personnel
    R1 Work permit for religious workers/foreign members of non-profit vocational associations
    TN Citizens of Canada and Mexico with a job offer from an American employer
    K1 Fiancés of American citizens/residents
    K2 Dependents of K1 visa holders
    K3 Spouses of American citizens/residents
    K4 Dependents of K4 visa holders
    B1 Business visitors
    B2 Tourist visitors
    F1 Academic students
    F2 Dependents of F1 visa holders
    M1 Vocational students
    M2 Dependents of M1 visa holders
    J1 Cultural exchange
    J2 Dependents of J1 visa holders

    Immigrant Visas

    Visa Type Purpose
    IR1/CR1 Spouse of a U.S. Citizen
    IR2 Children’s green card
    IR3 Intercountry Adoption of Orphan Children by U.S. Citizens


    IR4 Children adopted in the USA
    IR5 Parents of US citizens over the age of 21
    F3 Married children of US citizens over the age of 21
    F4 Siblings of US citizens
    F2A, F2B Spouses, children and adult children of US citizens/permanent residents


    EB-1 Employment first preference for priority workers


    EB-2 Employment second preference for professionals holding advanced degrees and persons of exceptional ability
    EB-3 Employment third preference for skilled workers, professionals and unskilled workers


    EB-4 Employment fourth preference for certain special immigrants


    EB-5 Employment fifth preference for Immigrant investors
    SD, SR Religious Workers
    SI Iraqi and Afghan Translators/Interpreters


    SQ Iraqis/Afghans Who Worked for/on Behalf of the U.S. Government


    DV Diversity Immigrant Visa



    Returning Resident

    Visa Waiver Program

    Nationals from certain countries can travel to the United States without a visa. The US has a visa waiver program (VWP) that allows citizens of eligible countries to enter the U.S for up to 90 days without requiring a visa.

    The countries included in the visa waiver program are:

    Andorra Estonia
    Australia Finland
    Austria France
    Belgium Germany
    Brunei Greece
    Chile Hungary
    Czech Republic Iceland
    Denmark Ireland
    Italy Liechtenstein
    Japan Lithuania
    Latvia Luxembourg
    Malta New Zealand
    Monaco Norway
    Netherlands Poland
    Portugal Slovenia
    San Marino South Korea
    Singapore Spain
    Slovakia Sweden
    Switzerland United Kingdom

    To be eligible to travel under the VWP, British citizens must have the unrestricted right of permanent abode in England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, the Channel Islands, and the Isle of Man.

    Although you don’t need a visa under the VWP, you will need authorization through the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) before you travel to the United States. Although the visa waiver program will allow you to enter the US without a visa, this is only for a short period of time so if you plan on staying longer than 90 days then you will need to apply for a U.S visa.

    What is the difference between immigrant and nonimmigrant visas?

    The main difference between immigrant and nonimmigrant US visas is the length of time that they grant you entry to the US for. Nonimmigrant visas are temporary visas, this means that they come with a validity period and only allow you to enter the United States for a set period of time. Immigrant visas, which are also known as green cards, grant you permanent residence in the United States, allowing you to make the US your permanent home.

    The validity of a nonimmigrant visa varies depending on the type that you apply for, some are only valid for 3 months, whilst others are valid for 3 years. Many of the nonimmigrant visas can also be extended and you can still pursue a route to becoming a lawful permanent resident in the US whilst you are in the country on a temporary visa.

    The application process for a nonimmigrant visa is usually much quicker than that of an immigrant visa, which can take years, so many choose to opt for a temporary visa first, and then later apply for permanent residence.

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      US family visas

      • Overseas nationals who have other family members that are either US citizens or people with lawful permanent residency in the US may be eligible for one of the many US family visas. The main nonimmigrant family visas include the:

        • K1 Visa for fiances of US citizens
        • K3 Visa for spouses of US citizens

        The K2 and K4 Visas are also available for dependents of applicants for the above visas, this includes unmarried children under the age of 21. The K1 Visa is valid for just 90 days, and is for those who intend to marry their US partners during this time. The K3 Visa is valid for up to two years, during which time the visa holder can apply for permanent residency.

        If you wish to join your family permanently in the US, there are a number visa categories of family based green cards that you could be eligible for. There are two routes to a family based green card, they are immediate relative and preference relative. An immediate relative is more likely to be successfully granted a green card, immediate relatives include:

        • Spouses of U.S. citizens (IR-1)
        • Unmarried children of a U.S. citizen who are under the age of 21 (IR-2)
        • An orphan adopted abroad by a U.S. citizen (IR-3)
        • An orphan to be adopted in the United States by a U.S. citizen (IR-4)
        • Parents of U.S. citizens, if the U.S. citizen child is at least 21 years-old (IR-5)

        If you are a relative of a US green card holder, or a more distant relative of a US citizen, you could be eligible for a green card as a preference relative. There are several difference preference categories, they include:

        • Family first preference – Unmarried children of any age of the U.S. citizen
        • Family second preference- Spouses and unmarried children (under 21) of Green Card holders (F2A) & unmarried sons and daughters of Green Card holders who are at least 21-years-old (F2B)
        • Family third preference – Married children of a U.S. citizen (F3)
        • Family fourth preference – Sisters and brothers of U.S. citizens where the U.S. citizen is at least 21-years-old (F4)

      US work visas

      Many foreign nationals wish to work in the United States, and there are various U.S visas available for those who intended on immigrating to the country to work. The type of visa that you will need to work in the U.S depends on how long you plan to be in the country for and the type of job that you will be doing.

      The most common nonimmigrant work visa is the H1B Visa, which is for specialty workers. To be eligible, workers must hold a bachelor’s degree or higher and be able to work in specialty occupations. There are also a wide range types of visas for other nonimmigrant work visas including the H2B visa for temporary workers, visas for specific occupations like religious workers or athletes, the 01 Visa for individuals with an extraordinary ability, the I visa for journalists and the L1 Visa for those transferring to a U.S branch of an international organization.

      There are also several dependent visas available to relatives of successful work visa applicants that can be used for entry into the United States.

      If you plan on working in the U.S on a more permanent basis, then you could be eligible for one of the employment based green cards, they are categorized by preference and include:

      • EB-1 -Employment first preference for priority workers
      • EB-2 -Employment second preference for professionals holding advanced degrees and persons of exceptional ability
      • EB-3 -Employment third preference for skilled workers, professionals and unskilled workers
      • EB-4 – Employment fourth preference for certain special immigrants
      • EB-5 -Employment fifth preference for Immigrant investors
      US graduation

      US study visas

      The US is a popular destination for international students looking to study at some of the worlds best educational institutions. There are two categories of student visas available including the F1 visa for academic students and the M1 Visa for vocational students. The student visa category that is best for you will depend on the type of course you plan to study.

      To be eligible for an F1 visa, applicants must:

      • Have been accepted as a student by an educational institution accredited by the USCIS
      • Prove adequate English proficiency
      • Have evidence of enough funds to cover at least the first year of study
      • Have nonimmigrant intent

      M1 visa applicants must:

      • Be accepted at a SEVP institution
      • Pay the full cost of their program before commencing their studies
      • Have high English proficiency
      • Have a nonimmigrant intent
      • Be able to sustain themselves financially

      If you wish to have foreign government come to the U.S as an exchange student, then you could be eligible J-1 Visa, also known as the the Exchange Visitor Program, this permit allows your foreign nationals to enter the US to study or receive training.

      If you travel to the United States as a student, you may also be able to bring relatives to join you using one of the dependent visas.

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              IAS U.S. citizenship and immigration services

              U.S immigration law is complex and applying for a visa is usually a difficult and time-consuming process. Our attorneys are highly trained in all aspects of U.S immigration law and will give you the best chance of success with your visa application. Our attorneys can be there with you every step of the way, from advising on the best type of visa for your situation and assessing your eligibility, to assisting you with your application forms and helping you to gather all the supporting documents that you’ll need.

              If you need to attend an appointment as a U.S embassy or consulate when you apply for a visa, then our attorneys can help you to prepare for your appointment and can answer any questions that you may have about what you can expect.

              For more information about applying for a U.S visa, don’t hesitate to get in touch with our team today on +1 844 290 6312.

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              Frequently Asked Questions

              If you are from a country that is not part of the U.S visa waiver program then you will need to apply for one of the visitor visas to travel to the United States.

              There are two types of visitor visas, the B1 visitor visa for business purposed and the B2 Tourist Visa, the tourist visa allows you to travel to the United States for leisure purposes as well as to receive medical treatment.

              A visa is required for foreign nationals who plan to enter the United States for business purposes and there are several categories of U.S business visas that allow you to do this, including the E1 Treaty Trader visa and the E2 Treaty Investor Visa.

              Applying for a US visa is usually a complex process that varies depending on the visa that you are applying for. Many US visa applications require the application process to be started by a US sponsor for the applicant. The sponsor must file a petition and if accepted, the foreign national then may need to submit an application themselves.

              Overseas nationals applying for a visa may also be required to attend an appointment as a U.S embassy or consulate to prove their identity and have their biometric information taken.

              When applying for a U.S visa you will also be expected to provide a number of supporting documents to prove that you are able to meet the requirements.