There are various types of nonimmigrant visas for temporary visitors to travel to the U.S., if you are not a U.S. citizen or U.S. lawful permanent resident. The purpose of your intended travel and other facts will determine what type of visa is required under U.S. immigration law. It's important to have information about the type of nonimmigrant visa you will need for travel, and the steps required to apply for the visa at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate abroad.
Review the chart below. For more information specific to each visa category, including how-to-apply information and more, select a link from the Visa Type column below. Additional details for each visa category are available here.
|Purpose of Travel to U.S. and Nonimmigrant Visas||Visa Type||Required: Before Applying for Visa*|
|Athletes, amateur & professional (compete for prize money only)||B-1||(NA)|
|Au pairs (exchange visitor)||J||SEVIS|
|Diplomats and foreign government officials||A||(NA)|
|Domestic employees or nanny -must be accompanying a foreign national
|Employees of a designated international organization, and NATO||G1-G5, NATO||(NA)|
|Foreign military personnel stationed in the U.S||A-2
|Foreign nationals with extraordinary ability in Sciences, Arts,
Education, Business or Athletics
|International cultural exchange visitors||Q||USCIS|
|Medical treatment, visitors for||B-2||(NA)|
|Performing athletes, artists, entertainers||P||USCIS|
|Professor, scholar, teacher (exchange visitor)||J||SEVIS|
|Specialty occupations in fields requiring highly specialized knowledge||H-1B||DOL then USCIS|
|Students: academic, vocational||F, M||SEVIS|
|Temporary agricultural workers||H-2A||DOL then USCIS|
|Temporary workers performing other services or labor of a temporary or
|H-2B||DOL then USCIS|
|Tourism, vacation, pleasure visitors||B2||(NA)|
|Training in a program not primarily for employment||H-3||USCIS|
|Treaty traders/treaty investors||E||(NA)|
|Transiting the United States||C||(NA)|
*What the abbreviations (above) mean
Before applying for a visa at a U.S. Embassy abroad the following is required:
- DOL = The U.S. employer must obtain foreign labor certification from the U.S. Department of Labor, prior to filing a petition with USCIS.
- USCIS = DHS, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) approval of a petition or application (The required petition or application depends on the visa category you plan to apply for.)
- SEVIS = Program approval entered in the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS)
- (NA) = Not Applicable - Means that additional approval by other government agencies is not required prior to applying for a visa at the U.S. Embassy abroad.
Note: K visas are for the purpose of marrying a U.S. citizen and immigrating or joining a U.S. citizen spouse in the United States while awaiting USCIS approval of Form I-130 for immigrant status. Visit the immigrant visa section of this website for K-1 and K-3 visa information.
This chart includes nonimmigrant visas and the associated purpose of travel with links to relevant web pages. However, it should be noted this chart is not a complete list of all purposes of travel or types of nonimmigrant visas. Each visa applicant must meet the eligibility requirements for the type of visa for which he/she is applying, as determined by the consular officer at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate, following U.S. immigration laws.