Nonimmigrant visa overview
U.S. law provides for a wide variety of visas and classifications (“nonimmigrant visas”), all of which have particular requirements. Nonimmigrant visas are generally intended for short-term stays in the U.S. of a few months or years. An immigrant visa holder, on the other hand, is entitled to apply for entry to the U.S. as an immigrant, receives a Green Card after entry and can live and work in the U.S. indefinitely.
Which nonimmigrant visa one qualifies for depends not only on one’s intended activities, but also on one’s nationality. For example, certain visas are only available to citizens of Chile, Singapore, Mexico or Canada.
There are nonimmigrant visas for employees with a college education and employees with no education, visas for investors and entrepreneurs and visas for executives and managers. There are visas for renowned artists and athletes and special visas for entire sports teams and performers. And which visa is available to persons wanting to study in the U.S. depends on whether they intend to enroll in a full academic program of study, or participate in vocational trainings or courses.
The following are the most important U.S. nonimmigrant visa categories:
- B-1 Visa (business visitors)
- E-1 Visa (treaty traders)
- E-2 Visa (treaty investors)
- H-1B Visa (temporary workers)
- H-2B Visa (temporary non-agricultural workers)
- I Visa (journalists, media representatives)
- J Visa (trainees, au-pairs)
- K-1 Visa (fiancé(e)s of U.S. citizens)
- K-3 Visa (spouses of U.S. citizens)
- L-1 Visa (intracompany transferees)
- O Visa (extraordinary ability - artists, athletes, scientists)
- P Visa (artists, athletes, entertainers, group performers)
- R Visa (religious workers)
The list above is not exhaustive. Depending on your particular circumstances, there may be other nonimmigrant visa categories available to you. Details about other nonimmigrant visa options are available in our blog.
Below you will find a longer list nonimmigrant visa categories for travel to the U.S. For each nonimmigrant visa type there are specific requirements that have to be fulfilled for the visa to be granted. Regulations regarding nonimmigrant visas can be confusing, making it difficult to make the right selection. If you need assistance choosing the right nonimmigrant visa for yourself, for an investment or a business venture, for an employee or for a relative, our experts are here to help.
|A visa||For diplomats and foreign government officials|
|B visa||For visitors (tourists, business travelers)|
|C visa||Transit visa (for crew members of a ship or an airplane, travelers to the UN headquarters in New York)|
|D visa||For crewmembers of a (cruise) ship or an airplane|
|E visa||For treaty investors and treaty traders from countries which have bilateral trade agreements with the U.S.|
|F visa||For pupils and students (universities, conservatories, high schools), or participants of language courses|
|G visa||For foreign government officials who are members of international organizations (e.g. UN)|
|H visa||For temporary workers|
|I visa||For journalists and media representatives|
|J visa||For participants in exchange programs (pupils, students, au-pairs, trainees, etc.)|
|K visa||For fiancé(e)s or spouses of U.S. citizens|
|L visa||For intracompany transferees (executives, managers, workers with specialized knowledge|
|M visa||For trainees/students in non-academic training programs (vocational training)|
|N visa||For parents and children of certain Greencard holders|
|O visa||For individuals with extraordinary ability or achievement (athletes, artists, scientists, entrepreneurs, etc.)|
|P visa||For individuals with extraordinary abilities who perform together (orchestra members, circus artists, athletes)|
|Q visa||For participants in cultural exchange programs|
|R visa||For religious workers of a recognized religious community|
|S visa||For individuals with certain knowledge of criminal activities in organisations or companies (witnesses)|
|T visa||For victims of human trafficking|
|U visa||For crime victims who suffered mental or physical abuse|
|V visa||For spouses and children of Greencard holders|
If you need assistance with the application for a U.S. visa feel free to contact us by e-mail (firstname.lastname@example.org) or by phone (+49 (0)69 / 76 75 77 80). We can schedule a telephonic or in-person appointment for a consultation with our expert German attorney Thomas Schwab. During the consultation we can discuss which visa(s) you may be eligible for and provide you with an overview of the application requirements. We can also assist you with the entire application process.