It is found there are four kinds of visa under the nonimmigrant class: T, F, J, and M. These are abbreviations for tourist visa, fiancé(e) visa, exchange visitor visa, and student visa respectively. If you travel a lot, or are planning to travel to the United States, it is important to know what visa you fulfill. The following article will tell you more about the most common types of visa in the US and how to apply for one.
There are several types of visas available for aliens seeking admission to the United States. The particular visa granted depends upon the alien’s country of nationality, employment and family ties in the U.S. Some of the more commonly used overseas visas are summarized below:If you are planning to study in US, chances are that you need to apply for a student visa. A student visa is issued to the students who want to study outside their home country. Student visa can be temporary or permanent subject to the time period of study at the educational institute in US.
Types of Visas offered by US
Any foreign citizen who wishes to enter the United States must obtain a Visa. It could be a non-immigrant Visa for temporary stay or immigrant Visa for permanent stay. Indians have to take a non-immigrant Visa to enter the United States.
Non-immigrant Visa is used by business people, tourists, specialty works, and students who wish to stay in the U.S. for a temporary period to accomplish specific purposes. Those availing the non-immigrant Visa must demonstrate to the consular officer that they intend to leave the U.S after their temporary stay.
|A||Foreign government officials and diplomats|
|A1, G-1, NATO1-6||Visa renewals|
|A-2, NATO1-6||Military personnel of a foreign country stationed in the U.S.|
|B-1||Amateur and professional athletes who are competing for prize moneyBusiness visitorsNannies or domestic employees|
|B-2||Visitors for medical treatmentTourists, vacationers and pleasure visitors|
|BCC||Mexican Border Crossing Card|
|C||Transit in the U.S.|
|D||Crew members serving on aircraftsCrew members serving on aircrafts|
|E-3||Australian professionals and specialty workers|
|F-1||Language and academic students|
|F-2||Dependents of F-1 Visa holders (Students)|
|G1- G5, NATO||Designated international organisation’s employees and NATO|
|H-1B1||Chilean Free Trade Agreement (FTA) professionalsSingaporean FTA professionals|
|H1-B||Physicians and highly specialised occupations requiring specific industry knowledge|
|H2-A||Temporary workers for seasonal agriculture|
|H2-B||Temporary workers for non-agricultural professions|
|H3||Primarily non-employment training programs|
|H1-C||Nurses travelling to areas that has shortage of healthcare professionals|
|I||Information media representatives and journalists|
|J||Exchange visitorsInternational cultural exchange visitors|
|J-1||Au-pairs exchange visitorsProfessors, scholars and teachers as exchange visitors|
|J-2||Children under the ages of 21/ Spouse of J-1 holder|
|L||Intra company transferees|
|M-2||Dependent of M-1 holder|
|O-1||Foreign nationals possessing excellent knowledge and abilities in the fields of art, science, education, athletics or business|
|P||Entertainers, artists and athletes|
|Q||International cultural exchange visitors|
|TN/TD||Mexican and Canadian NAFTA professional workers|
|T-1||Human trafficking victims|
|U-1||Victims of crime, criminal activity|
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Different types of US Visas
The most common types of US Visa from India are as follows:
- Tourist or business VisaThere are two types of Visas offered under this tourist or business Visa. They are:Most often the two types are combined and issued as one Visa. You have to prove to the consular officer that the stay in the U.S. is on a temporary basis and you have to show the evidence of funds to cover your expenses while you are in the U.S. Proof of residence outside the US must be shown as well. You cannot accept employment under this visa.
- B-1 for business associates, those attending scientific, educational, business conventions, settling an estate or to negotiate contracts.
- B-2 for pleasure or for medical treatment. This includes tourism, visiting friends and family, medical treatment, social or service activities.
- Work VisaIn order to work in the U.S. on a temporary basis, you need a specific Visa based on the type of work that you will be doing. Applicants of H, L, O, P and Q will have to get their petition approved on their behalf by USCIS. Form I-129 must be approved before applying for work Visa at the Consulate. After which the employer will receive Form I-797 that serves as your petition’s approval notification. While giving your interview at the Consulate, you will have to bring I-129 and copy of Form I-797.Visas offered for work are as follows:
- H1-B for Specialty occupationTo qualify for the H1-B Visa you must hold at least a Bachelor’s degree in specific specialty and USCIS will determine if your employment constitutes a specialty occupation and if you are qualified to perform the service. Employer is required to file labor condition application with the Department of Labor regarding the terms and condition of the contract of employment with you.
- H-1 B-1 – Work Visa on a Temporary BasisSingaporean and Chilean citizens can apply visa in order to work in the U.S. on a temporary basis. However, individuals must already have a job offer in the US before they can apply for the visa.
- H-2A for Seasonal agricultural workersThis Visa allows U.S. employers to bring foreign nationals to fill the temporary agricultural job for which U.S. workers are not available. Employer must file Form I-129 petition on your behalf. Indians are not eligible for this Visa.
- H-2B for skilled and unskilled workersThis Visa is granted to those filling up a temporary or a seasonal job for which there is a shortage of U.S. workers. Indians are not eligible for this Visa.
- H-3 for traineesThis is required if you are coming to the U.S. to receive training in any field from an employer for a period of up to 2 years. You can be paid for the training but it cannot be used to provide productive employment.
- H-4 for dependentsIf you are a holder of a valid H Visa, then your spouses and unmarried children under the ages of 21 may receive H-4 Visa so that they can accompany you to the U.S. But your spouse and children who hold this Visa are not permitted to work in the U.S.
- L-1 for intra company transfereesThis Visa is required if you are an employee of an international company and getting transferred on a temporary basis to the parent branch or an affiliate or a subsidiary of the company. To qualify for this visa, you must be at a managerial or executive level and must have specialised knowledge in the position that you are destined to hold in the U.S. Company. You must be employed with the international company continuously for one year within the 3 years preceding the application for admission to the U.S.
- L-2 for dependentsIf you are a holder of a valid L Visa, your spouses and unmarried children under the age of 21 may receive L-2 Visa to enter the U.S. If your spouse wishes to seek employment in the U.S., they will have to submit a completed Form I-765 with the application fee. Your children will not be authorised to work in the United States.
- Type O VisaThis type of Visa is offered to those with extraordinary ability in the science, education, arts, business and athletics or extraordinary achievement in motion picture and television production.
- Type P VisaThis Visa is offered to athletes, entertainer’s artist, and essential support personnel who come to perform in the United States.
- Type Q VisaThis Visa is required if you are travelling to participate in international cultural exchange program in the U.S. for the purpose of providing training, employment, sharing history culture and traditions of your home country. The petition must be filed by the sponsor and is to be approved by USCIS.
- Student VisaForeign citizens who come to study in the U.S. are required to be accepted by the school or program. Once they have been accepted, they will be given necessary approval documents to submit while applying for the Student Visa. The students can apply for the Visa in 120 days from the start date of I-20 and they can travel within 30 days from the start of I-20. Visas offered for students are:
- F-1 VisaThis Visa if provided to those who wish to engage in academic studies in U.S. approved schools or in approved English language program. This Visa is needed if your course is for more than 18 hours a week. This Visa is issued to students attending public secondary school.
- M-1 VisaThis Visa is offered to those who are planning non-academic, vocational training or training in the U.S.Holders of A, E, H-4, F-2, G, J-2, L-2 and M-2 or any other Nonimmigrant Visas can get them enrolled in public secondary and elementary schools.Students who leave U.S. for a break in studies for 5 months or more may lose their F-1 or M-1 status unless their overseas activity was related to their course.
- Exchange Visitor VisaForeign citizens can come to the United States to participate in the exchange programs. But before you apply for the Visa, you need to be accepted and approved by the authorised program sponsor. The exchange visitor gets a J Visa that is designed to promote interchange of knowledge and skills in various fields. Participants can be:
- Students at academic levels
- Research scholars
- Professional trainees
- Visitors coming for travel, consultation, research purposes, etc.
- Ship Crew or Transit VisaThe two types of Visas offered for transit or ship crew are mentioned below:
- Transit C VisaThis Visa is offered to citizen of a foreign country who is traveling to another country via the United States. If the traveller wishes to visit his friends or family then he has to seek layover privileges. He or she must qualify to obtain B-2 Visa.
- Crew D VisaThis Visa is offered to a crew member who is serving on a sea vessel or aircraft. The crew members generally use the combination of transit or crew Visa that is C-1 or D. if the crew member is serving on board a vessel within the Outer Continental Shelf, then he or she is qualified for a modified B-1 Visa instead of a crew Visa. Crew members who are entering U.S. during time off between flights or cruises must obtain B-1 or B-2 Visa.
- Religious Worker VisaR type Visa is offered to those who wish to work in a religious capacity in the U.S. on a temporary basis. The religious worker includes persons who are authorised by a recognised entity to conduct religious activities.
- Domestic Employee VisaPersonal or domestic servants who accompany their employer to the U.S. are eligible for B-1 Visa. The domestic employees include:The domestic servants of a foreign diplomat or a government official is eligible for an A-3 or a G-5 Visa.
- Mother’ helpers
- Paid companions
- Media and Journalist VisaMedia (I) Visa is offered to a nonimmigrant who represents a foreign media to travel to the United States for a temporary period to engage in their profession. However, they must have a home office in a foreign country.A visitor’s Visa is offered to the foreign citizen if he or she is travelling for the following purposes:
- Attending a conference or a meeting
- Guest lecture
- Engaging in academic activities
- Purchasing media equipment
Spouses and children under the ages of 21 are allowed to accompany the principal Visa holder under the B-2 Visa.
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FAQs on Types of Visas offered by US
- Will I get a money refund if my visa application gets rejected?No, the money will not be refunded, since the visa application got processed. The fees you paid while applying for a visa, involve the cost of processing a visa application. Anyone, who wishes to apply for a US visa, needs to pay this amount, irrespective of where they stay in the world.
- Is the visa a guarantee to enter the United States?No, a visa does not guarantee entry into the States. It only allows you to travel until the port-of-entry (airport or land border). After reaching there, you need to seek permission from the Department of Homeland Security, US Customs and Border Protection (CBP). These officials have the authority to allow or reject your stay request. The US immigration inspector gives you an admission stamp or paper Form I-94, arrival/departure record in your passport. It is important to keep this paper in your passport during your stay in the States, as it shows that you are a legal immigrant.
- For how long can I stay in the United States?The immigration officer records the duration period or a date on the admission stamp paper. You must abide by it and leave the States by that date. It is very important to keep paper Form I-94 or admission stamp in your passport as it is proof that you are permitted to stay in the US.
- What should I do if my visa gets damaged?You will have to reapply for a new visa at a Consulate abroad or at the US Embassy.
- What should I do if my immigrant visa expires before I travel to the United States?You may have to apply again for visa and pay the immigrant visa processing fee. You may also be required to submit new documents, like a police certificate and medical examination for the process. Do contact the Consulate or the US Embassy that issued your visa for detailed information. While submitting a new application, you may be asked to submit your expired, unused visa and there is no guarantee that your visa will get reissued.
- Can I know the visa application status of my friend?The visa records are confidential under the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) 222(f) of the US laws. Therefore, you cannot check the application status on behalf of your friend. The applicant should call up the US Embassy or the Consulate abroad to check for necessary the information regarding the visa.
News about Visas offered by US
US Embassy announces new tranche of student visa interview slots
The US Embassy in India has opened appointments for students who need to arrive at their campuses by mid-August. The students who applied for visa categories F, M, and J can book their interview slots. The consulates will be taking the interviews after 14 August.
1 July 2022
Visitor visas to US not yet allowed for parents of Indian students
The United States has opened up student visas to students from India who are joining the Fall 2021 term in universities in the country. However, visa interviews have not been opened up to the parents who would want to accompany such students to the US. This is because visitor or tourist visas to the US still remains prohibited as per a presidential proclamation that came into effect from 4 May 2021 on account of the increasing Covid-19 cases in India. Non-immigrant visa holders are being given allowed into the country from India under the National Interest Exception, but it will not be applicable to parents of Indian students who wish to accompany them to the country for the reopening of university.
21 June 2021
Govt Lifts Restrictions On E-Visas of 156 Countries; China & UK Not Included
Restrictions on e-visas, including e-Business Visa, e-Medical Visa, e-Medical Attendant Visa, and e-Conference Visa have been lifted by the Ministry of Home Affairs. Due to the rise in the number of Covid-19 cases, the visas were all suspended last year in March.
According to the Indian Government, people from 156 countries can now visit India for treatment, and conduct their business and conference. However, the restrictions have been lifted at a time when the number of Covid-19 cases are rising immensely.