|This article is part of a series on the|
|Politics of the |
Visitors to the United States must obtain a visa from one of the U.S. diplomatic missions unless they come from one of the visa-exempt or Visa Waiver Program countries. The same rules apply for travel to all U.S. states, Washington, D.C., Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, as well as to Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands with additional waivers, while similar but separate rules apply to American Samoa.
The U.S. government requires all individuals entering or departing the United States by air, or entering the United States by sea from outside the Americas, to hold one of the following documents:
For entry by land or sea from the Americas, individuals must present one of the documents acceptable for entry by air or one of the following:
Nationals of Mexico may use a Border Crossing Card, which serves as a visa when presented with a passport. Without a passport, the card on its own also allows entry by land or sea while remaining within 25 miles (40 km) from the Mexico–United States border (up to 75 miles in Arizona and 55 miles in New Mexico) for a stay of up to 30 days.
Children born to a U.S. permanent resident mother during a temporary visit abroad do not need a passport or visa at the mother's first re-entry to the United States within two years after birth. Similarly, children born abroad to a parent with a U.S. immigrant visa after its issuance do not need a passport or visa if listed in the parent's passport with a birth certificate.
While there are about 185 different types of U.S. visas, there are two main categories:
A U.S. visa does not authorize entry into the United States or a stay in a particular status, but only serves as a preliminary permission to travel to the United States and to seek admission at a port of entry. The final admission to the United States is made at the port of entry by a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer. For those entering in a nonimmigrant visa status, the admission details are recorded by the CBP officer on a Form I-94 (or Form I-94W for nationals of the Visa Waiver Program countries for short visits), which serves as the official document authorizing the stay in the United States in a particular status and for a particular period of time. In order to immigrate, one should either have an immigrant visa or have a dual intent visa, which is one that is compatible with making a concurrent application for nonimmigrant and immigrant status.
Entering the United States on an employment visa may be described as a three-step process in most cases. First, the employer files an application with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services requesting a particular type of category visa for a specific individual. If the employer's application is approved, it only authorizes the individual to apply for a visa; the approved application is not actually a visa. The individual then applies for a visa and is usually interviewed at a U.S. embassy or consulate in the native country. If the embassy or consulate grants the visa, the individual is then allowed to travel to the United States. At the airport, border crossing or other point of entry, the individual speaks with an officer from U.S. Customs and Border Protection to request admission, and if approved, the individual may then enter the United States.
In addition to immigration sponsored by a U.S. family member or employer, about 55,000 immigrant visas are available each year to natives of certain countries under the Diversity Immigrant Visa program, also known as the green card lottery.
|Under Compacts of Free Association, citizens of the Marshall Islands, Micronesia and Palau may enter, reside, study and work in the United States indefinitely without a visa. These benefits are granted to citizens from birth or independence, and to naturalized citizens who have resided in the respective country for at least five years, excluding those who acquired citizenship by investment.|
The United States grants visa-free entry to nationals of two neighboring jurisdictions under most circumstances:
The United States also grants visa-free entry to nationals of some other neighboring jurisdictions under certain conditions:
Visa-free entry is also granted to limited categories of nationals of another neighboring country:
|Date of visa exemption|
Main article: Visa Waiver Program
As of 2023, 40 countries have been selected by the U.S. government for inclusion in the Visa Waiver Program (VWP). Their nationals do not need a U.S. visa for short stays, but they are required to obtain an electronic authorization (ESTA) prior to arrival. Visitors may stay for up to 90 days in the United States, which also includes time spent in Canada, Mexico, Bermuda or the islands in the Caribbean if the arrival was through the United States.
|Date of visa exemption|
The Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) is not considered a visa, but a prerequisite to traveling to the United States under the Visa Waiver Program. ESTA has an application fee of US$4, and if approved, an additional fee of $17 is charged, for a total of $21. Once obtained, the authorization is valid for up to two years or until the traveler's passport expires, whichever comes first, and is valid for multiple entries into the United States.[d] Passengers are advised to apply for ESTA at least 72 hours before departure.
Travel by air or sea with ESTA must be made on a participating commercial carrier. The VWP does not apply at all if arriving by air or sea on an unapproved carrier (e.g. a private ship or plane), in which case a standard visa is required. ESTA is also required for entry by land.
As of 2023, those who have previously been in Iran, Iraq, Libya, North Korea, Somalia, Sudan, Syria or Yemen on or after March 1, 2011, or in Cuba on or after January 12, 2021, or who are dual nationals of Cuba, Iran, Iraq, North Korea, Sudan or Syria, are not eligible to travel under the VWP and must obtain a standard visa. However, those who traveled to such countries as diplomats, military, journalists, humanitarian workers or legitimate businessmen may have this ineligibility waived.
Although the visa policy of the U.S. also applies to the U.S. territories of Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands, both territories have additional visa waiver programs for certain nationalities. The Guam–CNMI Visa Waiver Program, first enacted in October 1988 and periodically amended, permits nationals from 12 countries in Asia, Europe and Oceania to enter Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands as tourists for up to 45 days without the need to obtain a U.S. visa or ESTA. A parole policy also allows nationals of China visa-free access to the Northern Mariana Islands for up to 14 days.
|Date of visa waiver changes|
Travelers with a visa or ESTA are admitted to the territories in accordance with the terms of the visa or ESTA.
Travelers using the Guam–CNMI Visa Waiver Program or the parole are required to complete an I-736 form (online as of February 2018), hold a machine-readable passport and nonrefundable return ticket, and are not permitted to travel to other parts of the United States. Because of special visa categories for the Northern Mariana Islands' foreign workers, traveling between Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands still requires a full immigration inspection, and all visitors departing Guam or Northern Mariana Islands are inspected regardless of final destination.
U.S. visa policy does not apply to the territory of American Samoa, as it has its own entry requirements and maintains control of its own borders. Hence, neither a U.S. visa nor an ESTA can be used to enter American Samoa. If required, an entry permit or electronic authorization (OK Board) must be obtained from the Department of Legal Affairs of American Samoa.
U.S. nationals may remain indefinitely in American Samoa. To enter, they must present a U.S. passport, or apply online for an electronic authorization providing a copy of their birth certificate, identification card and itinerary. If they cannot present their original or certified birth certificate and valid identification, the application requires a fee of US$50 for verification of vital records.
Nationals of countries in the Entry Permit Waiver Program (EPWP) may visit for up to 30 days without an entry permit. However, if arriving by air, they must apply online for an electronic authorization called "OK to Board" or "OK Board", at least 48 hours before travel, providing a biometric passport and itinerary. They must also pay a fee of US$20, before travel or on arrival.
|Date of entry permit waiver changes|
Nationals of other countries need an entry permit. To apply, they must have a local sponsor, who must appear in person at the Immigration Office of the Department of Legal Affairs and provide either a deed of private land or signatures of the sponsor's sa'o (head chief) and pulenu'u (village mayor). Travelers must also provide a copy of their passport and itinerary, clearances from the District Court of American Samoa and Lyndon B. Johnson Tropical Medical Center, consent for a background check by the Department of Homeland Security of American Samoa, police and health clearances from the country of origin, and a fee of US$40 (no fee for children under 5 years of age). The application for an entry permit must be made at least 30 days before travel, and the permit is valid for a stay of up to 30 days. Business travelers may apply for a multiple-entry permit, for a fee of US$50 per month, up to one year.
Nationals of Samoa may apply for entry permits for a stay of up to 14 days (fee of US$10) or 30 days (fee of US$40, except for children under 5 years of age). Their application process requires fewer documents.
Transit travelers of any nationality may apply for an electronic authorization free of charge, allowing a stay of up to 24 hours.
Residents of the Chukotka Autonomous Okrug in Russia who are members of the indigenous population do not need a visa to visit Alaska if they have relatives (blood relatives, members of the same tribe, native people who have similar language and cultural heritage) in Alaska. Entry points are in Gambell and Nome.
Individuals must be invited by a relative in Alaska, must notify local authorities at least ten days before traveling to Alaska, and must leave Alaska within 90 days.
The agreement establishing this policy was signed by Russia (then the Soviet Union) and the United States on September 23, 1989. The United States made it effective as of July 17, 2015.
Members of certain indigenous peoples born in Canada may enter and remain in the United States indefinitely "for the purpose of employment, study, retirement, investing, and/or immigration" or any other reason by virtue of the Jay Treaty of 1794, as codified in Section 289 of the Immigration and Naturalization Act.
In order to qualify, an individual must possess "at least 50 per centum blood of the American Indian Race". Tribal membership alone does not qualify an individual. The individual bears the burden of proof in establishing eligibility, typically by way of presenting identification based on reliable tribal records, birth certificates, and other documents establishing the percentage of Indian blood. A Canadian Certificate of Indian Status is insufficient proof because it does not indicate the percentage of Indian blood.
This provision does not extend to family members unless they qualify in their own right. However, qualifying American Indians residing in the United States are considered to be lawfully admitted for U.S. permanent residence and therefore may file a petition for their spouse and dependent children, subject to statutory numerical limitations and a potential backlog of applications.
|Country or territory||States, District of Columbia and Puerto Rico||U.S. Virgin Islands||Guam||Northern Mariana Islands||American Samoa|
|Marshall Islands||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||OK Board|
|New Zealand||ESTA||ESTA||Yes||Yes||Yes||OK Board|
|South Korea||ESTA||ESTA||Yes||Yes||Yes||OK Board|
|United Kingdom[h]||ESTA||ESTA||Yes||Yes||Yes||OK Board|
|Schengen Area[k][a]||ESTA||ESTA||ESTA||ESTA||Yes||OK Board|
|San Marino||ESTA||ESTA||ESTA||ESTA||Yes||OK Board|
|British Virgin Islands||Police certificate||Yes||No||No||No||No|
|Cayman Islands||Police certificate||No||No||No||No||No|
|Turks and Caicos Islands||Police certificate||No||No||No||No||No|
|Papua New Guinea||No||No||Yes||Yes||No||No|
The United States has suspended the issuance of certain types of visas for certain people from certain countries as sanctions for their lack of cooperation in accepting the return of their nationals deported from the United States. As of 2023, these sanctions apply to nationals of Eritrea and to certain government officials and their family members of Cambodia, China (also under separate sanctions), Laos, Myanmar, Pakistan and Sierra Leone.
The United States has also suspended the issuance of visas in Cuba and Venezuela due to the ordered departure of U.S. government personnel, but nationals of these countries may still apply for visas at U.S. embassies or consulates in other countries.
Visits to the United States Minor Outlying Islands – Baker Island, Howland Island, Jarvis Island, Johnston Atoll, Kingman Reef, Midway Atoll, Navassa Island, Palmyra Atoll and Wake Island – are severely restricted. The islands are not accessible to the general public, and all visits require special permits from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, or from The Nature Conservancy for Palmyra Atoll, or from the U.S. Air Force for Johnston Atoll and Wake Island.
Applicants for visitor visas must show that they qualify under provisions of the Immigration and Nationality Act. The presumption in the law is that every nonimmigrant visa applicant (except certain employment-related applicants, who are exempt) is an intending immigrant unless otherwise proven. Therefore, applicants for most nonimmigrant visas must overcome this presumption by demonstrating that:
All visit, business, transit, student, and exchange visitor visa applicants must pay an application fee of US$185 to the consular section at a U.S. embassy or consulate in order to be interviewed by a consular officer who will determine if the applicant is qualified to receive a visa to travel to the United States (additionally, the officer may also ask the United States Department of State for a Security Advisory Opinion, which can take several weeks to resolve). The application fee is increased to $205 for most work visas and can be even higher for certain categories. If the applicant is rejected, the application fee is not refunded. If the application is approved, nationals of certain countries must also pay a visa issuance fee, based on reciprocity. Amongst the items included in the qualification decision are financial independence, adequate employment, material assets and a lack of a criminal record in the applicant's native country.
The highest number of non-immigrant admissions for tourists and for business purposes into the United States in fiscal year 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017 was from the following countries (listed over 700,000 admissions):
|Country||FY 2017||FY 2016||FY 2015||FY 2014|
|Statistics of American Samoa|
|Country||FY 2018||FY 2017||FY 2016||FY 2015||FY 2014|
|Statistics of Guam|
|Country||FY 2017||FY 2016||FY 2015||FY 2014||FY 2013|
|Northern Mariana Islands||20,563||19,325||17,579||14,334||14,761|
|Statistics of Northern Mariana Islands|
|Country||FY 2017||FY 2016||FY 2015||FY 2014|
Main article: A visa
A visas are issued to representatives of a foreign government traveling to the United States to engage in official activities for that government. A visas are granted to foreign government ambassadors, ministers, diplomats, as well as other foreign government officials or employees traveling on official business (A-1 visa). Certain foreign officials require an A visa regardless of the purpose of their trip. The A visa is also granted to immediate family members of such foreign government officials, defined as "the principal applicant's spouse and unmarried sons and daughters of any age who are not members of some other household and who will reside regularly in the household of the principal alien" (A-2 Visa) and which "may also include close relatives of the principal alien or spouse who are related by blood, marriage, or adoption who are not members of some other household; who will reside regularly in the household of the principal alien; and who are recognized as dependents by the sending government (A-3 Visa).
Main article: B visa
The most common non-immigrant visa is the multiple-purpose B-1/B-2 visa, also known as the "visa for temporary visitors for business or pleasure." Visa applicants sometimes receive either a B-1 (temporary visitor for business) or a B-2 (temporary visitor for pleasure) visa, if their reason for travel is specific enough that the consular officer does not feel they qualify for combined B-1/B-2 status. Holders may also attend short non-credit courses. Mexican citizens are eligible for Border Crossing Cards.
From November 29, 2016, all holders of Chinese passports who also hold 10-year B visas are required to enroll in the Electronic Visa Update System (EVUS) before traveling to the United States. This requirement may be extended to other nationalities in the future.
Effective January 24, 2020, B visas are not issued to individuals expected to give birth during their stay, unless they demonstrate that the primary purpose of their visit is not to obtain U.S. citizenship for the child. In addition, B visa applicants seeking medical treatment in the United States must demonstrate their arrangements for the medical treatment and sufficiently establish their ability to pay for it.
1 month–5 years (depending on issuance fee or visa subtype)
|Antigua and Barbuda||0||multiple||10 years|
|Bosnia and Herzegovina||0||multiple||10 years|
|Burkina Faso||0||multiple||5 years|
|Cape Verde||0||multiple||5 years|
|Central African Republic||40||multiple||1 year|
|Costa Rica||0||multiple||10 years|
|Czech Republic[l]||0||multiple||10 years|
|Democratic Republic of the Congo||0||multiple||3 months|
|Dominican Republic||0||multiple||10 years|
|East Timor||0||2||3 months|
|El Salvador||0||multiple||10 years|
|Equatorial Guinea||0||multiple||5 years|
|Hong Kong||0||multiple||10 years|
|Ivory Coast||0||multiple||1 year|
|Marshall Islands[n]||0||1||3 months|
|New Zealand[l]||0||multiple||10 years|
|North Korea||0||2||3 months|
|North Macedonia||0||multiple||10 years|
|Papua New Guinea||0||1||1 month|
|Saint Kitts and Nevis||0||multiple||10 years|
|Saint Lucia||0||multiple||10 years|
|Saint Vincent and the Grenadines||0||multiple||10 years|
|San Marino[l]||0||multiple||5 years|
|São Tomé and Príncipe||0||multiple||6 months|
|Saudi Arabia||0||multiple||10 years|
|Sierra Leone||0||multiple||3 years|
|Solomon Islands||0||multiple||5 years|
|South Africa||0||multiple||10 years|
|South Korea[l]||0||multiple||10 years|
|South Sudan||0||2||3 months|
|Sri Lanka||0||multiple||5 years|
|Trinidad and Tobago||0||multiple||10 years|
|United Arab Emirates||0||multiple||10 years|
|United Kingdom[x]||0||multiple||10 years|
|Vatican City||0||multiple||5 years|
The Adjusted Refusal Rate is based on the refusal rate of B visa applications. B visas are adjudicated based on applicant interviews; the interviews generally last between 60 and 90 seconds. Due to time constraints, adjudicators profile applicants. Certain demographics, such as young adults who are single and unemployed, almost never receive visas, unless they articulate a compelling reason. Adjudicators are evaluated on how fast they carry out interviews, not the quality of adjudication decisions. The validity of B visa decisions is not evaluated.
To qualify for the Visa Waiver Program, a country must have had a nonimmigrant visa refusal rate of less than 3% for the previous year or an average of no more than 2% over the past two fiscal years with neither year going above 2.5%. In addition, the country must provide visa-free access to United States citizens and has to be either an independent country or a dependency of a VWP country (which has precluded Hong Kong and Macau from participating in the program). (Until April 4, 2016, Argentina charged $160 to U.S. citizens to enter.)
The Adjusted Visa Refusal Rates for B visas were as follows:
|Country/Region||Fiscal Year 2008||Fiscal Year 2014||Fiscal Year 2015||Fiscal Year 2016||Fiscal Year 2017||Fiscal Year 2018||Fiscal Year 2019||Fiscal Year 2020|
|Antigua and Barbuda||21.70%||20.80%||20.17%||22.11%||20.50%||19.07%||15.25%||23.44%|
|Central African Republic||39.60%||46.60%||32.43%||35.12%||44.24%||36.03%||37.45%||48.67%|
|Democratic Republic of the Congo||36.20%||39.10%||45.62%||45.63%||49.94%||50.56%||53.80%||58.03%|
|Non-nationality based issuances[y]||n/a||n/a||n/a||28.92%||35.61%||40.27%||43.16%||46.06%|
|Papua New Guinea||3.40%||7.40%||5.14%||10.56%||9.34%||6.84%||1.74%||6.64%|
|Saint Kitts and Nevis||25.00%||27.50%||26.60%||28.31%||26.66%||24.98%||21.87%||23.28%|
|Saint Vincent and the Grenadines||26.40%||24.10%||27.15%||27.46%||20.38%||19.17%||14.55%||21.10%|
|São Tomé and Príncipe||28.60%||10.70%||5.71%||24.14%||14.81%||26.09%||34.78%||36.36%|
|Trinidad and Tobago||23.80%||21.20%||25.16%||22.70%||22.46%||19.28%||13.05%||14.10%|
|United Arab Emirates||10.40%||4.80%||7.10%||4.02%||5.80%||3.75%||5.56%||8.44%|
A number of visitors overstay the maximum period of allowed stay on their B-1/B-2 status after entered the U.S. on their B-1/B-2 visas. The Department of Homeland Security publishes annual reports that list the number of violations by passengers who arrive via air and sea. The table below excludes statistics on persons who left the United States later than their allowed stay or legalized their status and shows only suspected overstays who remained in the country.
The top 20 nationalities by the number of suspected in-country B-1/B-2 overstays in 2016 and 2017 were:
|Total (all nationalities)||280,559||1.91%||263,470||1.90%|
The top 10 nationalities by in-country B-1/B-2 visa overstay rate are:
U.S. tourist visas that are valid for further travel are accepted as substitute visas for national visas in the following territories:
The C-1 visa is a transit visa issued to individuals who are traveling in "immediate and continuous transit through the United States en-route to another country". The only reason to enter the United States must be for transit purposes. A subtype C-2 visa is issued to diplomats transiting to and from the Headquarters of the United Nations and is limited to the vicinity of New York City. A subtype C-3 visa is issued to diplomats and their dependents transiting to and from their posted country.
D visa is issued to crew members of sea-vessels and international airlines in the United States. This includes commercial airline pilots and flight attendants, captain, engineer, or deckhand of a sea vessel, service staff on a cruise ship and trainees on board a training vessel. Usually a combination of a C-1 visa and D visa is required.
Treaty Trader (E-1 visa) and Treaty Investor (E-2 visa) visas are issued to citizens of countries that have signed treaties of commerce and navigation with the United States. They are issued to individuals working in businesses engaged in substantial international trade or to investors (and their employees) who have made a 'substantial investment' in a business in the United States. The variant visa issued only to citizens of Australia is the E-3 visa (E-3D visa is issued to spouse or child of E-3 visa holder and E-3R to a returning E-3 holder).
Main article: F visa
These visas are issued for foreign students enrolled at accredited US institutions. F-1 visas are for full-time students, F2 visas are for spouses and children of F-1 visa holders and F-3 visas are for "border commuters" who reside in their country of origin while attending school in the United States. They are managed through SEVIS.
Main article: G visa
G visas are issued to diplomats, government officials, and employees who will work for international organizations in the United States. The international organization must be officially designated as such. The G-1 visa is issued to permanent mission members; the G-2 visa is issued to representatives of a recognized government traveling temporarily to attend meetings of a designated international organization; the G-3 visa is issued to persons who represent a non-recognized government; the G-4 visa is for those who are taking up an appointment; and the G-5 visa is issued to personal employees or domestic workers of G1–G4 visa holders. G1–G4 visas are also issued to immediate family members of the principal visa holder, if they meet certain criteria.
Officials who work for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization require a NATO visa. The NATO-1 visa is issued to permanent representatives of NATO and their staff members, NATO-2 visa is issued to a representative of member state to NATO or its subsidiary bodies, advisor or technical expert of the NATO delegation visiting the United States, a member of the NATO military forces component or a staff member of the NATO representative, NATO-3 visa is issued to official clerical staff accompanying the representative of a NATO member state, NATO-4 visa is issued to foreign national recognized as a NATO official, NATO-5 visa is issued to a foreign national recognized as a NATO expert and NATO-6 visa is issued to a member of the civilian component of the NATO. All NATO visas are issued to immediate family members as well. NATO-7 visas are issued to personal employees or domestic workers of a NATO-1 – NATO-6 visa holders.
H visas are issued to temporary workers in the United States.
The discontinued H-1A and H-1C visas existed during periods when the US experienced a shortage of nurses from 1989. The H-1A classification was created by the Nursing Relief Act of 1989 and ended in 1995. The H-1C visa was created by the Nursing Relief for Disadvantaged Area Act of 1999 and expired in 2005. Currently nurses must apply for H-1B visas.
Main article: H-1B visa
The H-1B classification is for professional-level jobs that require a minimum of a bachelor's degree in a specific academic field. In addition, the employee must have the degree or the equivalence of such a degree through education and experience. There is a required wage, which is at least equal to the wage paid by the employer to similarly qualified workers or a prevailing wage for such positions in the geographic regions where the jobs are located. This visa also covers fashion models of distinguished merit and ability. The H-1B1 visa is the variant issued to citizens of Singapore and Chile.
Main article: H-2A visa
The H-2A visa allows a foreign national entry into the US for temporary or seasonal agricultural work for eligible employers under certain conditions (seasonal job, no available US workers).
Main article: H-2B visa
The H-2B visa allows a foreign national entry into the US for temporary or seasonal non-agricultural work for eligible employers under certain conditions (seasonal job, no available US workers).
Main article: H-3 visa
The H-3 visa is available to those foreign nationals looking to "receive training in any field of endeavor, other than graduate medical education or training, that is not available in the foreign national's home country" or " participate in a special education exchange visitor training program that provides for practical training and experience in the education of children with physical, mental, or emotional disabilities".
Main article: H-4 visa
H-4 visa is issued to immediate family members of H visa holders. In some cases, they are eligible for employment.
Main article: I-1 visa
The I-1 visa is issued to representatives of the foreign media, including members of the press, radio, film, and print industries travelling to temporarily work in the United States in the profession.
Main article: J-1 visa
See also: J-2 visa
The J-1 visa is issued to participants of work-and study-based exchange visitor programs. The Exchange Visitor Program is carried out under the provisions of the Fulbright-Hays Act of 1961, officially known as the Mutual Educational and Cultural Exchange Act of 1961 (Pub. L. 87–256, 75 Stat. 527). The purpose of the act is to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries by means of educational and cultural exchanges. The Exchange Visitor Program is administered by the Office of Exchange Coordination and Designation in the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. In carrying out the responsibilities of the Exchange Visitor Program, the department designates public and private entities to act as exchange sponsors. Spouses and dependents of J-1 exchange visitors are issued a J-2 visa.
Exchange visa categories are:
Exchange Visitor Pilot Programs exist for citizens of Australia, Ireland, New Zealand and South Korea.
Main article: K-1 visa
A K-1 visa is a visa issued to the fiancé or fiancée of a United States citizen to enter the United States. A K-1 visa requires a foreigner to marry his or her U.S. citizen petitioner within 90 days of entry, or depart the United States. Once the couple marries, the foreign citizen can adjust status to become a lawful permanent resident of the United States (Green Card holder). A K-2 visa is issued to unmarried children under the age of 21. Foreign same-sex partners of United States citizens are currently recognized by United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and accordingly can be sponsored for K-1 visas and for permanent resident status.
K-3/K-4 visas are issued to foreign spouses and children of US citizens.
Main article: L-1 visa
See also: L-2 visa
The L-1 classification is for international transferees who have worked for a related organization abroad for at least one continuous year in the past three years and who will be coming to the United States to work in an executive or managerial (L-1A) or specialized knowledge capacity (L-1B). The L-2 visa is issued to dependent spouse and unmarried children under 21 years of age of qualified L-1 visa holders.
Main article: M-1 visa
The M-1 visa is a type of student visa reserved for vocational and technical schools. Students in M-1 status may not work on or off campus while studying, and they may not change their status to F-1. The M-2 visa permits the spouse and minor children of an M-1 vocational student to accompany him or her to the United States.
Main article: O visa
The O visa is a classification of non-immigrant temporary worker visa granted to an alien "who possesses extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics (O-1A visa), or who has a demonstrated record of extraordinary achievement in the motion picture or television industry and has been recognized nationally or internationally for those achievements," (O-1B visa) and to certain assistants (O-2 visa) and immediate family members of such aliens (O-3 visa).
See also: Alien of extraordinary ability
Main article: P visa
P visas are issued to individuals or team athletes, or member of an entertainment group including persons providing essential support services (P-1 visa), artists or entertainers (individual or group) under a reciprocal exchange program (P-2 visa) and artists or entertainers (individual or group) visiting to perform, teach or coach under a program that is culturally unique (P-3 Visa). P-4 visas are issued to spouses, or children under the age of 21, of a P-1, P-2, or P-3 alien and who is accompanying, or following to join.
The Q visa is issued to participants in an international cultural exchange program.
Main article: R visa
The R-1 visa is issued to temporary religious workers. They must have been a member of a religious denomination having a bona fide non-profit religious organization in the United States for at least 2 years. R-2 visa is issued to dependent family members.
S visas are nonimmigrant visas issued to individuals who have assisted law enforcement as a witness or informant. There is a limit of 200 S visas a year. A law enforcement agency can then submit an application for resident alien status, i.e. a green card on behalf of the witness or informant once the individual has completed the terms and conditions of his or her S visa.
Main article: TN status
NAFTA Professional (TN) visa allows citizens of Canada and Mexico whose profession is on the NAFTA list and who must hold a bachelor's degree to work in the United States on a prearranged job. Canadian citizens usually do not need a visa to work under the TN status (unless they live outside Canada with non-Canadian family members) while Mexican citizens require a TN visa. Spouse and dependent children of a TN professional can be admitted into the United States in the TD status.
The U-1 visa is a nonimmigrant visa which is set aside for victims of crimes (and their immediate family members) who have suffered substantial mental or physical abuse and are willing to assist law enforcement and government officials in the investigation or prosecution of the criminal activity. Subtypes of this visa are U-2 issued to spouses of U-1, U-3 issued to children of U-1, U-4 issued to parents of U-1 under the age of 21 and U-5 issued to unmarried siblings under the age of 18 of U-1 who is under 21.
The T-1 visa is issued to victims of severe forms of human trafficking. Holders may adjust their status to permanent resident status. Subtypes of this visa are T-2 (issued to spouses of T-1), T-3 (issued to children of T-1), T-4 (issued to parents of T-1 under the age of 21), and T-5 (issued to unmarried siblings under the age of 18 of T-1 who is under 21).
Main article: V visa
The V visa is a temporary visa available to spouses and minor children (unmarried, under 21) of U.S. lawful permanent residents (LPR, also known as green card holders). It allows permanent residents to achieve family unity with their spouses and children while the immigration process takes its course. It was created by the Legal Immigration Family Equity Act of 2000. The Act is to relieve those who applied for immigrant visas on or before December 21, 2000. Practically, the V visa is currently not available to spouses and minor children of LPRs who have applied after December 21, 2000.
All US visa types and subtypes are listed below:
See also: Travel visa § Immigrant visas
The Trump administration issued new rules on August 12, 2019, that will reject applicants for temporary or permanent visas for failing to meet income standards or for receiving public assistance such as welfare, food stamps, public housing or Medicaid. Critics[who?] feared the new law, which was set to go into effect in October 2019, could negatively impact the lives of children who are U.S. citizens.
|IR-1||Spouse of U.S. citizen|
|IR-2||Child of U.S. citizen|
|IR-3||Orphan from a non-Hague country (i.e., not a party to the Hague Adoption Convention) adopted abroad by U.S. citizen|
|IR-4||Orphan from a non-Hague country to be adopted in the United States by U.S. citizen|
|IR-5||Parent of U.S. citizen at least 21 years of age|
|IH-3||Orphan from a Hague country adopted abroad by U.S. citizen|
|IH-4||Orphan from a Hague country to be adopted in the United States by U.S. citizen|
|CR-1||Spouse of U.S. citizen (conditional status)|
|CR-2||Child of U.S. citizen (conditional status)|
|IW-1||Certain spouses of deceased U.S. citizens|
|IW-2||Child of IW-1 IB-1|
|IB-1||Self-petition spouse of U.S. citizen|
|IB-2||Self-petition child of U.S. citizen|
|IB-3||Child of IB-1|
|VI-5||Parent of U.S. citizen who acquired permanent resident status under the Virgin Islands Nonimmigrant Alien Adjustment Act|
|Vietnam Amerasian Immigrants|
|AM-1||Vietnam Amerasian principal|
|AM-2||Spouse/Child of AM-1|
|AM-3||Natural mother of AM-1 (and spouse or child of such mother), or person who has acted in effect as the mother, father, or next-of-kin of AM-1 (and spouse or child of such person)|
|SC-1||Certain persons who lost U.S. citizenship by marriage|
|SC-2||Certain persons who lost U.S. citizenship by serving in foreign armed forces|
|Family-Sponsored Immigrants: First Preference|
|F11||Unmarried son or daughter of U.S. citizen|
|F12||Child of F11|
|B11||Self-petition unmarried son or daughter of U.S. citizen|
|B12||Child of B11|
|Family-Sponsored Immigrants: Second Preference (Subject to Country Limitations)|
|F21||Spouse of permanent resident|
|F22||Child of permanent resident|
|F23||Child of F21 or F22|
|F24||Unmarried son/daughter of permanent resident|
|F25||Child of F24|
|B21||Self-petition spouse of permanent resident|
|B22||Self-petition child of permanent resident|
|B23||Child of B21 or B22|
|B24||Self-petition unmarried son/daughter of permanent resident|
|B25||Child of B24|
|Family-Sponsored Immigrants: Second Preference (Exempt from Country Limitations)|
|FX1||Spouse of permanent resident|
|FX2||Child of permanent resident|
|FX3||Child of FX1 or FX2|
|BX1||Self-petition spouse of permanent resident|
|BX2||Self-petition child of permanent resident|
|BX3||Child of BX1 or BX2|
|Family-Sponsored Immigrants: Third Preference|
|F31||Married son or daughter of U.S. citizen|
|F32||Spouse of F31|
|F33||Child of F31|
|B31||Self-petition married son or daughter of U.S. citizen B32|
|B32||Spouse of B31|
|B33||Child of B31|
|Family-Sponsored Immigrants: Fourth Preference|
|F41||Brother or sister of U.S. citizen who is at least 21 years of age|
|F42||Spouse of F41|
|F43||Child of F41|
|Employment-Based Immigrants: First Preference (Priority Workers)|
|E11||Person with extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics|
|E12||Outstanding professor or researcher|
|E13||Multinational executive or manager|
|E14||Spouse of E11, E12, or E13|
|E15||Child of E11, E12, or E13|
|Employment-Based Immigrants: Second Preference (Professionals Holding Advanced Degrees or Persons of Exceptional Ability)|
|E21||Professional holding advanced degree or person of exceptional ability in the sciences, arts, or business|
|E22||Spouse of E21|
|E23||Child of E21|
|Employment-Based Immigrants: Third Preference (Skilled Workers, Professionals, and Other Workers)|
|E32||Professional holding baccalaureate degree|
|E34||Spouse of E31 or E32|
|E35||Child of E31 or E32|
(subgroup numerical limit)
|EW4||Spouse of EW3|
|EW5||Child of EW3|
|Employment-Based Immigrants: Fourth Preference (Certain Special Immigrants)|
|BC-1||Certain international broadcasters|
|BC-2||Spouse of BC-1|
|BC-3||Child of BC-1|
|SD-1||Minister of religion|
|SD-2||Spouse of SD-1|
|SD-3||Child of SD-1|
|SE-1||Certain employees or former employees of the U.S. Government abroad|
|SE-2||Spouse of SE-1|
|SE-3||Child of SE-1|
|SF-1||Certain former employees of the Panama Canal Company or Canal Zone Government|
|SF-2||Spouse or child of SF-1|
|SG-1||Certain former employees of the U.S. Government in the Panama Canal Zone SG-2|
|SH-2||Spouse or child of SH-1|
|SJ-2||Spouse or child of SJ-1 (certain foreign medical graduates)|
|SK-1||Certain retired international organization employees|
|SK-2||Spouse of SK-1 SK-3|
|SK-4||Certain surviving spouses of deceased international organization employees SL-1|
|SM-1||Person recruited outside the United States who has served, or is enlisted to serve, in the U.S. Armed Forces for 12 years (became eligible after October 1, 1991)|
|SM-2||Spouse of SM-1|
|SM-3||Child of SM-1|
|SM-4||Person recruited outside the United States who has served, or is enlisted to serve, in the U.S. Armed Forces for 12 years (eligible as of October 1, 1991)|
|SM-5||Spouse or child of SM-4|
|SN-1||Certain retired NATO-6 civilian employees|
|SN-2||Spouse of SN-1|
|SN-3||Certain unmarried sons or daughters of NATO-6 civilian employees|
|SN-4||Certain surviving spouses of deceased NATO-6 civilian employees|
|SR-1||Certain religious workers (subgroup numerical limit)|
|SR-2||Spouse of SR-1|
|SR-3||Child of SR-1|
|Employment-Based Immigrants: Fifth Preference (Employment Creation - Investors) (Conditional Status)|
|C51||Employment creation outside targeted area|
|C52||Spouse of C51|
|C53||Child of C51|
|T51||Employment creation in targeted rural/high unemployment area (subgroup numerical set-aside)|
|T52||Spouse of T51|
|T53||Child of T51|
|R51||Investor pilot program, not in targeted area|
|R52||Spouse of R51|
|R53||Child of R51|
|I51||Investor pilot program, in targeted area|
|I52||Spouse of I51|
|I53||Child of I51|
|Other Numerically Limited Categories: Diversity Immigrants|
|DV-2||Spouse of DV-1|
|DV-3||Child of DV-1|
|A-1||Head of state and immediate family, prime minister and immediate family, government minister, ambassador, career diplomat or consular officer, or immediate family|
|A-2||Minister of state, other foreign government official or employee, or immediate family|
|A-3||Attendant, servant, or personal employee of A-1 or A-2, and immediate family|
|B-1||Temporary visitor for business, domestic employees, academics, researchers and students|
|B-2||Temporary visitor for holiday, tourism, medical treatment|
|B1/B2||Temporary visitor for business & pleasure|
|C-1||Person in transit|
|C-1/D||Combined Transit and Crewmember (sea or air)|
|C-2||Person in transit to United Nations Headquarters district under Section 11 (3), (4), or (5) of the Headquarters Agreement|
|C-3||Foreign government official, immediate family, attendant, servant or personal employee, in transit|
|CW-1||Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands transitional worker|
|CW-2||Spouse or child of Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands transitional worker|
|D||Crewmember (sea or air)|
|E-1[z]||Treaty trader, spouse and children|
|E-2[z]||Treaty investor, spouse and children|
|E-2C[z]||Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands investor, spouse, or child|
|E-3[z]||Treaty traders and investors: Australian Free Trade Agreement|
|E-3D[z]||Spouse or child of E-3|
|F-1||Student (academic or language training program)|
|F-2||Spouse or child of F-1|
|F-3||Canadian or Mexican national commuter student in an academic or language training program|
|G-1||Principal resident representative of recognized foreign member government to international organization, staff, and immediate family|
|G-2||Other representative of recognized foreign member government to international organization, and immediate family|
|G-3||Representative of non-recognized or nonmember foreign government to international organization, and immediate family|
|G-4||International organization officer or employee, and immediate family|
|G-5||Attendant, servant, or personal employee of G-1 through G-4, and immediate family|
|GB||Temporary visitors: for business, visa waiver, Guam|
|GT||Temporary visitors: for pleasure, visa waiver, Guam|
|H-1B[z]||Alien in a specialty occupation (profession)|
|H1B1||Chilean or Singaporean national to work in a specialty occupation|
|H-1C||Nurse in health professional shortage area|
|H-2A||Temporary worker performing agricultural services unavailable in the United States|
|H-2B||Temporary worker performing other services unavailable in the United States|
|H-3||Temporary workers and trainees: industrial trainees|
|H-4[z]||Temporary workers and trainees: spouses and children of H-1B, H-1B1, H-2A, H-2B, or H-3|
|I||Representative of foreign information media, spouse and children|
|J-2||Spouse or child of exchange visitor|
|K-1[z]||Fiancé(e) of U.S. citizen|
|K-2[z]||Child of fiancé(e) of U.S. citizen|
|K-3[z]||Spouse of U.S. citizen awaiting availability of immigrant visa|
|K-4[z]||Child of K-3|
|L-1[z]||Intracompany transferee (executive, managerial, and specialized personnel continuing employment with international firm or corporation)|
|L-2[z]||Spouse or child of intracompany transferee|
|M-1||Vocational student or other nonacademic student|
|M-2||Spouse or child of M-1|
|M-3||Border commuter student (vocational or nonacademic)|
|N-8||Parent of SK-3 or SN-3 special immigrant|
|N-9||Child of N-8 or of SK-1, SK-2, SK-4, SN-1, SN-2, or SN-4 special immigrant|
|NATO-1||Principal permanent representative of member state to NATO (including any of its subsidiary bodies) resident in the U.S. and resident members of official staff; Secretary General, Assistant Secretaries General, and Executive Secretary of NATO; other permanent NATO officials of similar rank, and members of immediate family|
|NATO-2||Other representatives of member states to NATO (including any of its subsidiary bodies) including representatives, advisers, and technical experts of delegations, and members of immediate family; dependents of members of a force entering in accordance with the provisions of the NATO Status-of-Forces Agreement or in accordance with provisions of the "Protocol on the Status of International Military Headquarters"; members of such a force if issued visas|
|NATO-3||Official clerical staff accompanying a representative of member state to NATO (including any of its subsidiary bodies), and members of immediate family|
|NATO-4||Officials of NATO (other than those classifiable as NATO-1), and members of immediate family|
|NATO-5||Experts, other than officials classifiable as NATO-4, employed in missions on behalf of NATO, and their dependents|
|NATO-6||Members of a civilian component accompanying a force entering in accordance with the provisions of the NATO Status-of-Forces Agreement; members of a civilian component attached to or employed by an Allied Headquarters under the "Protocol on the Status of International Military Headquarters" set up pursuant to the North Atlantic Treaty; and their dependents|
|NATO-7||Attendant, servant, or personal employee of NATO-1 through NATO-6 classes, and immediate family|
|O-1[z]||Person with extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics|
|O-2[z]||Person accompanying and assisting in the artistic or athletic performance by O-1|
|O-3[z]||Spouse or child of O-1 or O-2|
|P-1[z]||Internationally recognized athlete or member of an internationally recognized entertainment group|
|P-2[z]||Artist or entertainer in a reciprocal exchange program|
|P-3[z]||Artist or entertainer in a culturally unique program|
|P-4[z]||Spouse or child of P-1, P-2, or P-3|
|Q-1||Participant in an international cultural exchange program|
|R-1||Person in a religious occupation|
|R-2||Spouse or child of R-1|
|S-5||Informant possessing information on criminal activity|
|S-6||Informant possessing information on terrorism|
|S-7||Spouse, married or unmarried son or daughter, or parent of S-5 or S-6|
|SIJS||Special Immigrant Juvenile Status: Qualifying children present in the U.S. who are declared dependents of a juvenile court and who would be harmed if returned to their home country|
|T-1||Victim of a severe form of trafficking in persons|
|T-2||Spouse of T-1|
|T-3||Child of T-1|
|T-4||Parent of T-1 under 21 years of age|
|T-5||Under-18 unmarried sibling of T-1|
|T-6||Adult or minor child of a derivative beneficiary of a T-1|
|TD||Spouse or child of TN|
|U-1||Victim of criminal activity|
|U-2||Spouse of U-1|
|U-3||Child of U-1|
|U-4||Parent of U-1 under 21 years of age|
|U-5||Under-18 unmarried sibling of U-1 under 21 at time of filing|
|V-1[z]||Spouse of lawful permanent resident awaiting availability of immigrant visa|
|V-2[z]||Child of lawful permanent resident awaiting availability of immigrant visa|
|V-3[z]||Derivative child of V-1 and V-2|
|WB||Temporary visitors: visa waiver, business|
|WT||Temporary visitors: visa waiver, pleasure|
The concept of the dual intent visa is to grant legal status to certain types of visa applicants when they are in the process of applying for a visa with the intent to obtain a permanent residency/green card. There are a certain number of U.S. visa categories that grant permission for dual intent, or to get a temporary visa status while having an intention to get a green card and stay permanently in the United States of America.
|Culture Workers, Artists and Entertainers|
|P-1||Athletes or members of team who take part in certain athletic competition for the purpose of entertainment|
|P-2||Entertainers and artists who visit the United States under a mutual exchange program between the U.S. and other organizations and their supporters (service workers or individuals)|
|P-3||Artists, individuals and service workers who come to the U.S. with the objective to teach, coach, develop and interpret traditional and cultural performances|
|P-4||Dependents of individuals who hold P-2 and P-3 visas|
|O-1A||Individuals who have unique talents or outstanding accomplishments in the spheres of education, business, science and mathematics|
|O-1B||Individuals who have unique talents or outstanding accomplishments in the spheres of education, business, science and mathematics|
|O-2 (A&B)||Individuals who provide O-1 holders with essential assistance|
|O-3||Dependents of individuals who hold O-1 and O-2 visas|
|H-1B||Professional athletes, coaches and coaching staff|
|P-1||Athletes with a high level of international performance and their supporters|
|O-1A||Individuals with unique talents and abilities in the field of sports|
|Entrepreneurs and Business Individuals|
|H-1B||Individuals who have a high level of professional knowledge in a particular niche|
|H-1B (Chile)||Chilean citizens specializing in a certain occupation who intend to start a niche-related business within the U.S.|
|H-1B (Singapore)||Singapore citizens specializing in a certain occupation who intend to start a niche-related business within the U.S.|
|L-1||Such qualified employers/intracompany transferees as executives, managers and specialty workers|
|E-2||Citizens of Treaty Countries who have an intention to invest in an American company|
|E-3||Australian citizens specializing in certain occupation who intend to start a niche-related business within the U.S.|
|O-1A||Individuals with outstanding talents and achievements that are internationally recognised|
|Family Members of LPRs|
|V||Individuals with family members who have the LPR (Lawful Permanent Resident) status, live in the United States and have filed the Form I-130 before December 21, 2000|
|Fiancé(e)s and Spouses of United States Citizens|
|K-1||Foreign fiancé(e)s who are going to enter the United States with an intention to marry an American citizen|
|K-2||Individuals who are dependents of K-1 visa holders|
|K-3||Individuals who have already married U.S. citizens abroad and now have a right to enter the U.S.|
|H-4||Individuals who are dependents of H-1B visa holders|
|L-1A||Managers and executives who are transported to an office in the United States in order to carry out certain supervisory duties|
|L-1B||Individuals who have profound knowledge in company's inner processes, services and systems who are transported to an office in the United States|
|L-2||Individuals who are dependents of L-1 visa holders|
|Doctors and Physicians|
|H-1B||Foreign medical practitioners who have an appropriate degree and a license in their sphere and have completed the FLEX licensing examination|
|O-1A||Foreign medical practitioners with outstanding skills in the medical niche|
|E-2||Foreign medical practitioners who have an intention to invest in an American enterprise|
|Professional and Priority Workers|
|H-1B||Foreign citizens with a specialty occupation who have a sponsorship from an employer based in the United States|
|E-2||Treaty investors who are eligible to work in the United States for an American business if they invest more than $100,000 and if they are citizens of Treaty Countries|
|E-3||Australian citizens who have a sponsorship from an employer based in the United States|
|Software Engineers and Programmers|
|H-1B||Foreign citizens who have deep knowledge in the computer sphere and can provide strong evidence of their skills|
|L-1||Foreign citizens who hold the position of executive or manager in software companies and have to be transported to a branch based in the United States|
|E-1/E-2||Foreign citizens from Treaty Countries who possess unique IT skills|
|O-1A||Foreign citizens who have outstanding knowledge in computer science and software development|
|H-1B||Foreign citizens who are currently/expired nurses by occupation and who are going to come to the United States under the Nursing Relief Act|
|H-1B||Foreign citizens who specialize in spheres that are important for employers who are based in the United States|
|H-4||Individuals who are dependents of H-3 visa holders and applicants|
|Treaty Traders and Investors|
|E-1||Individuals who are officially investors and who are citizens of E-1 Treaty Countries|
|E-2||Foreign citizens who are going to work or travel and who have made an investment in the United States economy that they can control|
|Scientists, Professors, Scholars and Researchers|
|O-1A||Scholars and professors who show outstanding accomplishments in science|
|O-2 (A&B)||Accompanying individuals of O-1A visa holders or applicants whose help is indispensable to certain scientific researches|
|O-3||Individuals who are dependents O-1/O-2 visa holders|
|H-1B||Scientific researchers who will be employed by certain academic institutions in the United States|
Most visas are named after the paragraph of the Code of Federal Regulations that established the visa.
Section 221(g) of the Immigration and Nationality Act defined several classes of aliens ineligible to receive visas.
Grounds for denial may include, but are not limited to:
Section 214(b) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (also cited as 8 United States Code § 1184(b)) states that most aliens must be presumed to be intending to remain in the U.S., until and unless they are able to show that they are entitled to non-immigrant status. This means there are two sides to a 214(b) denial. Denials occur when applicants do not convince the consular officer of their intent to stay in the U.S. temporarily, or were qualified for the visa.
An example of a denial based upon the first ground would be an applicant for an F-1 student visa who the consular officer felt was secretly intending to remain in the U.S. permanently.
An example of a denial based upon the second ground would be an H-1B applicant who couldn't prove he possessed the equivalent of a U.S. bachelor's degree in a specialty field—such an equivalency being a requirement for obtaining an H-1B visa.
In order to thereafter obtain a visa applicants are recommended to objectively evaluate their situation, see in what way they fell short of the visa requirements, and then reapply.
In rare cases, Section 212(d)(3) of the Immigration and Nationality Act allows for the temporary entry of certain aliens who would otherwise be prohibited from entering the United States. The person applies for a Hranka waiver and pays the filing fee. When deciding whether to approve the waiver, the Board of Immigration Appeals considers whether there would be harm to society if the applicant were admitted to the United States, the seriousness of the applicant's prior violations, and the nature of the applicant's reasons for wishing to enter the United States. If approved for a Hranka waiver, the applicant would need to have this documentation when requesting entry to the United States.
There are cases when a U.S. visa has been granted to aliens who were technically ineligible. Japanese mafia (yakuza) leader Tadamasa Goto and three others were issued visas for travel between 2000 and 2004 to undergo liver transplant surgery at UCLA Medical Center. The FBI had aided the men in the visa application process hoping that they would provide information regarding yakuza activities in the U.S.
In 2005, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi (then Chief Minister of Gujarat) was denied a diplomatic visa to the United States. The B-1/B-2 visa that had previously been granted to him was also revoked, under a section of the Immigration and Nationality Act which makes any foreign government official who was responsible or "directly carried out, at any time, particularly severe violations of religious freedom" ineligible for the visa. The violations of religious freedom in question were the 2002 Gujarat riots. Modi is the only person ever denied a visa to the U.S. under this provision. In 2014, after Modi's BJP political party won the 2014 Indian general election, U.S. President Barack Obama ended the visa issue by calling Modi to congratulate him on his victory, and invited him to the White House. On June 8, 2016, Modi addressed a joint meeting of the U.S. Congress.