What are the different visa types in the US

Updated on: 2022-09-20 - 4 mins read

Foreign nationals must get a visa to enter the United States. There are some of these types of nonimmigrant visas issued to people traveling to the United States for a short period of time. The type of visa you require to go to the US will be determined based on the purpose of your intended travel and other facts under U.S. immigration law. In this article, we will describe various US visa types to help you understand the steps required to apply for the visa and pay US visa application fees at a US Embassy or Consulate.

Nonimmigrant US Visa Types Purpose
A Foreign government servants and diplomats
A1, G-1, NATO 1-6 Visa renewal in the US for A, G and NATO categories
A-2, NATO 1-6 Foreign military officers posted in the US
B-1 Amateur and professional athletes Business visitors Nannies or domestic servants
B-2 Visitors for medical treatment , Visitors for pleasure, vacation
BCC Mexican Border Crossing Card
C Transit in the US
D Crew members serving on aircrafts/ sea vessels
E-1 Treaty traders
E-2 Treaty investors
E-3 Australian workers- professionals and specialty workers
F-1 Language and academic students
F-2 Dependents of F-1 visa holders
G-1-G-5, NATO Employees of designated international organization and NATO
H-1B People working in specialty occupations that require highly specialized knowledge
H-1B, J1 Physicians
H-1B1 Free Trade Agreement (FTA) professionals of Chile and Singapore
H-1C For nurses to visit the areas where there is a shortage of healthcare staff
H-2A Temporary agricultural workers
H-2B Temporary non-agricultural workers
H-3 Non-employment training programs
H-4 Dependents of H visa holders
I Media, journalists or their representative
J Exchange visitors
J-1 Exchange visitors, Au-pairs Exchange Visitors, Professors, scholars and teachers
J-2 Spouse and children under the age of 21 of J-1 visa holder
K-1 Finance
L Intra company transferees
M-1 Students – vocational
M-2 Dependents of M-1 visa holders
O-1 Foreign citizens with extraordinary abilities in the field of art, science, athletics and business
P Athletes, entertainers and artists
R Religious workers
T-1 Human trafficking victims
TN/TD NAFTA professional workers- Canada, Mexico
U-1 Criminal activity victims

US Visa Types

Basically there are two types of visas – nonimmigrant visa for a temporary stay and immigrant visa for permanent settlement in the US.

US Visa Types for Business or Tourism

a) US tourist visa

Fees: $160 USD

There are two types of visas under business/ tourist visa:

  • B-1 visa is issued to business associates who want to enter the United States temporarily for business.
  • B-2 visa is issued to individuals who want to travel to the United States for pleasure or medical treatment including meeting family/ friends or vacations, honeymoon and social occasions.

You can also obtain a combined visa issued for both objectives. You need to prove to the consular officer that you have sufficient funds to cover your expenses while in the US. Visitor visa holders are not permitted to accept employment in the US.

b) Work visa

Fees: $190 USD

Individuals who travel to the US for employment on a temporary basis need a specific visa based on the type of work they will be doing. Prospective employers of H, L, O, P and Q visa applicants are required to file a petition on the applicants’ behalf and get it approved by USCIS (U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services) before the applicants can apply for a work visa.

The petition, Form I-129, must be approved before the prospective workers can apply for a work visa at the US Embassy or Consulate in their home country. Visa applicants will have to bring I-129 and a copy of Form I-797 at the time of visa interview at the Consulate.

US Visa Types for Work:

i. H1-B visa (specialty occupation)

Fees: $1,720 to $6,470 USD

An H-1B visa is issued to foreign nationals to enter the United States to perform services in a pre-arranged professional job. You must have a bachelor’s or higher degree in the specific specialty occupation for which you have been selected. USCIS will determine whether you are qualified to perform the service. The prospective employer needs to file the Form ETA-9035, LCA (Labor Condition Application) with the Department of Labor regarding the terms and conditions of the contract of employment with you.

ii. H-2A (seasonal agricultural workers)

Fees: $460 USD

The H-2A visa allows US employers to offer agricultural jobs to foreign nationals in the United States on a temporary basis. A US employer must file Form I-129 petition for Nonimmigrant Worker on the visa applicant’s behalf.

iii. H2-B visa (skilled and unskilled workers)

Fees: $160 USD

This visa allows foreign nationals to come to the United States for temporary or seasonal jobs for which US workers are not available. Employers must obtain a Department of Labor certification.

iv. H-3 visa (trainee)

Fees: $460 USD

You will need to obtain an H-3 visa if you wish to come to the United States to receive training in any field from an employer for up to 2 years. The employer can pay you, but the training can’t be used to provide productive employment.

v. H-4 visa (dependents)

Fees: $190 USD

Spouses and unmarried children (below the age of 21 years) of the principal H visa holders can obtain an H-4 visa to accompany him/her to the United States. However, dependents are not permitted to work in the US but can attend school in the US.

vi. L-1 (intra-company transferee)

Fees: $460 USD

You are required to have an L-1 visa to visit the United States if you are an employee of an international company that is temporarily transferring you to its parent branch, affiliate, or subsidiary in the United States. You should have a managerial or executive position, or have specialized knowledge and be ready to attain a position at either of these levels in the US company. You must have had employment outside the United States with the international company continuously for one year within the 3 years before your application for admission to the United States.

vii. L-2 (dependents)

Fees: $160 USD

Spouses and unmarried children (aged below 21 years) of L visa holders can obtain L-2 visas to enter the United States. If your spouse wishes to work in the US, he/she will have to submit a completed Form I-765 with the application fee. However, children will not be allowed to seek employment in the United States.

US Visa Types for Students

a) F-1 Visa

Fees: $350 USD

The F1 student visa is issued to students who wish to pursue academic studies in an accredited US university, college, private secondary school or in an approved English language program. Also, if your course of study is more than 18 hours a week, F-1 visas are required.

b) M-1 Visa

Fees: $350 USD

If you are planning to pursue non-academic or vocational study or training at a US institution, you need an M-1 visa.

c) Exchange Visitor Visas

Fees: $160 USD

Foreign nationals can visit the United States to participate in various exchange programs. Visa applicants must be accepted and approved by an authorized program sponsor before applying for a visa. The exchange visitor program’s J visa is designed with the objective of promoting the interchange of persons, knowledge, and skills in the fields of education, arts, and sciences.

International visitors coming for tourism, observation, training, demonstrating specialized skills, participating in organized people-to-people programs, etc.

US Visa Type O for individuals with extraordinary ability or achievement:

Type O visas are issued to experts in the field of science, education, business, arts, etc. or individuals with extraordinary achievement in motion picture and television production. Their essential support personnel. There are two parts of O visa, which includes P Visa and Q Visa.

a) Type P Visa (artists, entertainers)

Fees: $190 USD

Type P visas are granted to entertainment artists, athletes and their essential support personnel who wish to visit the United States for performance.

b) Type Q visa

Fees: $190 USD

If you are traveling to the United States to participate in the international cultural exchange program for the purpose of providing practical training, and sharing the history, traditions and culture of your home country, you must obtain a Q visa. Your sponsor must file a petition on your behalf and the petition must be approved by USCIS.

US Visa Types for Transit/ship Crew:

Fees: $160 USD

Visas for transit or ship crew are issued in two categories:

a) Transit C Visa

Transit C visa is issued to foreign nationals traveling to another foreign destination via close and continuous transit through the United States enroute. If the foreign national is visiting for purposes other than transit through the US, they will need to qualify for and take B-2 visas.

b) Crew D Visa

Crew D visa is granted to a crew member serving onboard a vessel or aircraft in the United States. Generally crew members transiting through the United States or its waters use a combination of transit and crew visa (C-1/D). However, in some cases, foreign nationals may only need the D visa.

Crew members serving onboard a vessel within the Outer Continental Shelf can get a modified B-1 visa rather than a crew visa. If the crew members enter the US during time-off between flights or cruises, they should get a B-1/B-2 visa.

c) Religious worker visa

Fees: $190 USD

Foreign nationals who wish to travel to the US for religious activities on a temporary basis. Individuals who are authorized by a recognized entity to conduct religious activities and workers engaging in a religious occupation are considered religious workers.

d) Domestic employee visa

Fees: $160 USD

Domestic servants who are accompanying or following to join an employer in the U.S. can apply for a B-1 visa.

Domestic servants accompanying a foreign diplomat or a government official can get an A-3 or G-5 visa, in accordance with their employer’s visa status.

e) Media and journalist visa

Fees: $160 USD

The media (i) visa is a nonimmigrant visa issued to representatives of foreign media traveling to the United States on a temporary basis to pursue their profession. The applicants must meet specific requirements to qualify for the media (I) visa. Media visas are issued to members of the press, radio, film industries, such as reporters, editors, film crews and persons in similar occupations traveling to the United States to practice their profession.

A visitor visa is granted if a foreign citizen wants to travel to the US for the following purposes:

  • Attending a conference or meeting
  • Guest lecture or academic activity
  • Purchase of media equipment
  • Vacation

A temporary work visa is granted to foreign nationals to enter the US for the following activities:

  • Filming material for advertisement and commercial entertainment
  • Roles such as proofreaders, librarians, set designers
  • Artistic media content production
  • Stories that are staged events, television and quiz shows

Dependents of the principal holder like spouses and children under the age of 21 can accompany in the United States are eligible for visitor visas (B-2).

f) TN Visa

Fees: $160 USD

The TN Visa is a US non-immigrant visa, so those who get it have to return to their home countries upon its expiration. It allows only citizens of Canada and Mexico, not permanent residents, to work in the US if they find a job beforehand. The agreement specifies the types of TN visa jobs and occupations that visa holders are allowed to engage in. There are around 63 occupations for which Canadians and Mexicans qualify to work on.

g) TD Visa

Fees: $149 USD

Spouses and unmarried children under the age of 21 may accompany or follow valid TN (Trade NAFTA visa category) status holders to the United States under TD (Trade Dependent visa category) status. A dependent’s TD status will initially be valid for the amount of time the principal TN worker maintains status. Extensions of TD status are also possible, in conjunction with the principal TN worker’s extension of status. Entrance with either a TD status or a TD visa will allow the alien multiple entrances to the United States as long as the TD status remains valid.

Ustraveldocs Review

Ustraveldocs is an "Official website by U.S. Department of State Visa Appointment Service." Using this official website, you would be able to learn about obtaining a visa, as well as applying for your visa.

This website will help you with:

  • Application
    You will get to know how to apply for your nonimmigrant visa for travel to the USA.
  • Documentation
    What all documents, photos, and information do you need to apply for your visa?
  • Access
    How to easily access visa application forms and instructions
  • Visa Application Fee
    How to pay for your visa application fee
  • Schedule
    Schedule your interview at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate-General cabinet.



Disclaimer: You can always refer to the above official website for all the visa related concerns in the US.