A citizen of a foreign country who seeks to enter the United States generally must first obtain a U.S. visa, which is placed in the traveler’s passport, a travel document issued by the traveler’s country of citizenship.
Certain international travelers may be eligible to travel to the United States without a visa if they meet the requirements for visa-free travel.
To determine which visa category might be appropriate for your purpose of travel to the United States, see the various visa categories below.
Nonimmigrant Visa Categories
|Purpose of Travel||Visa Category||Required: Before applying for visa*|
|Athlete, amateur or professional (competing for prize money only)||B-1||(NA)|
|Au pair (exchange visitor)||J||SEVIS|
|Australian professional specialty||E-3||DOL|
|Border Crossing Card: Mexico||BCC||(NA)|
|CNMI-only transitional worker||CW-1||(USCIS)|
|Diplomat or foreign government official||A||(NA)|
|Domestic employee or nanny – must be accompanying a foreign national employer||B-1||(NA)|
|Employee of a designated international organization or NATO||G1-G5, NATO||(NA)|
|Foreign military personnel stationed in the United States||A-2
|Foreign national with extraordinary ability in Sciences, Arts, Education, Business or Athletics||O||USCIS|
|Free Trade Agreement (FTA) Professional:
|H-1B1 – Chile
H-1B1 – Singapore
|International cultural exchange visitor||Q||USCIS|
|Medical treatment, visitor for||B-2||(NA)|
|NAFTA professional worker: Mexico, Canada||TN/TD||(NA)|
|Performing athlete, artist, entertainer||P||USCIS|
|Physician||J , H-1B||SEVIS|
|Professor, scholar, teacher (exchange visitor)||J||SEVIS|
|Specialty occupations in fields requiring highly specialized knowledge||H-1B||DOL then USCIS|
|Student: academic, vocational||F, M||SEVIS|
|Temporary agricultural worker||H-2A||DOL then USCIS|
|Temporary worker performing other services or labor of a temporary or seasonal nature.||H-2B||DOL then USCIS|
|Tourism, vacation, pleasure visitor||B-2||(NA)|
|Training in a program not primarily for employment||H-3||USCIS|
|Treaty trader/treaty investor||E||(NA)|
|Transiting the United States||C||(NA)|
|Victim of Criminal Activity||U||USCIS|
|Victim of Human Trafficking||T||USCIS|
|Nonimmigrant (V) Visa for Spouse and Children of a Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR)||V||(NA)|
|Renewals in the U.S. – A, G, and NATO Visas||(NA)|
*What the abbreviations above mean – Before applying for a visa at a U.S. embassy or consulate, 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 = 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 – Additional approval by another U.S. government agency is not required prior to applying for a visa
- About this chart – It is not a complete list of all travel purposes for the visa category. Select a visa category webpage for more information. The chart lists almost all nonimmigrant visa categories, with the exception of several not listed above. Refer to the Foreign Affairs Manual, 9 FAM 402.1 for all nonimmigrant visa categories.
- Canadian NAFTA Professional workers – A visa not required; apply to U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) at border port of entry.
- K nonimmigrant visas – For U.S. citizen fiancé(e) and spouse for immigration related purposes.
Immigrant Visa Categories
|Immediate Relative & Family Sponsored||Visa Category|
|Spouse of a U.S. Citizen||IR1, CR1|
|Spouse of a U.S. Citizen awaiting approval of an I-130 immigrant petition||K-3 *|
|Fiancé(e) to marry U.S. Citizen & live in U.S.||K-1 *|
|Intercountry Adoption of Orphan Children by U.S. Citizens||IR3, IH3, IR4, IH4|
|Certain Family Members of U.S. Citizens||IR2, CR2, IR5, F1, F3, F4|
|Certain Family Members of Lawful Permanent Residents||F2A, F2B|
|Employer Sponsored – Employment|
|Employment-Based Immigrants, including (preference group):
|Religious Workers||SD, SR|
|Iraqi and Afghan Translators/Interpreters||SI|
|Iraqis Who Worked for/on Behalf of the U.S. Government||SQ|
|Afghans Who Worked for/on Behalf of the U.S. Government||SQ|
|Diversity Immigrant Visa||DV|
*K Visas – Listed with immigrant visas because they are for immigration related purposes.
About this chart – This chart is a list of many immigrant visa categories, but not every immigrant visa category.
**Refer to the Foreign Affairs Manual, 9 FAM 502.1 for a listing of all immigrant visa categories.