US Nonimmigrant Visa

Author: Jason Coles

Updated On:

There are two types of visa categories you can qualify under to go to the United States; nonimmigrant visas and immigrant visas. This page primarily focuses on US nonimmigrant visas, what each visa category is called, a summary of the visa requirements, and the application fee for each nonimmigrant visa or classification of visa. If you know you are interested in an immigrant visa, please visit our US Immigrant Visa page.

Nonimmigrant visas are designed to provide temporary residence for those seeking to move to the United States. This does not mean that someone can only come to the U.S. for a short period of time because many nonimmigrant visas can be renewed indefinitely, assuming that you still qualify.

The different reasons that foreign nationals move to the U.S. can vary greatly, but the most common reasons include:

  • Starting or buying a business or franchise in the U.S.
  • Being transferred by your company from a foreign office to work in the U.S.
  • Visiting the U.S. for more than 90 days as a tourist or someone looking to conduct business in the U.S. in the future.
  • Working for a U.S. company due to a job you have been offered.
  • Studying in the U.S.
  • Coming to the U.S. to seek specialist medical treatment.

The bar graph below displays all US nonimmigrant visa application approvals by year for the past several years and also includes the percentage increase/decrease each year.

US Nonimmigrant Visa Approvals


Nonimmigrant Visa Types

There are many different nonimmigrant visas, which all geared around the visa applicants’ purpose for temporarily moving to the United States. To help you decide which visa is best suited for your situation, we have created a table of each US nonimmigrant visa that is available, and the purpose for each visa, to give you a better understanding of what visa you might be looking for or may qualify for.

VisaVisa SummaryVisa Purpose
A-1Diplomats and Foreign Government OfficialsThe Visa grants Diplomats and Government Officials from Foreign Nations Temporary Residency
A-2Diplomats and Foreign Government OfficialsThe Visa grants Diplomats and Government Officials from Foreign Nations Temporary Residency
B-1Temporary Business VisaA Temporary Visa for those Travelling to the United States for Business Purposes (6 Months)
B-2Temporary Tourist VisaA Temporary Visa for those Travelling to the United States for Tourist Purposes (6 Months)
BCCBorder Crossing CardEligible for B-1 and B-2 Visa Holders, it is a laminated card, for Entering the U.S through a Border
C-1Transit VisaA Visa for Continuous and Immediate Transit from the U.S. to another Country
CW-1Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI)
Work Visa
Allows Employers in the CNMI to Apply for Permission to Employ Foreign Workers to Work under other Non-Immigrant Worker Categories
D-1Crew Members VisaFor Crew Serving aboard a Vessel or Aircraft in any Capacity that will
land in the U.S. to enter the U.S.
E-1Treaty Trader VisaFor Nationals of Specific Countries that Maintain a Treaty with the U.S
to Engage in Substantial Trade between the U.S. and Treaty Country
E-2Treaty Investor VisaFor Investors from Specific Countries that Maintain a Treaty with the U.S
to work in the U.S. based on a Substantial Investment in an Enterprise
E-3Work Visa for Australian nationalsThe E-3 Visa Provides Australian Nationals with Temporary
U.S. Residency and Work rights
F-1Student Visa (Allows on Campus Work)A Student Visa that Provides the Applicant with the Opportunity to Study
in the U.S. - the Visa Holder must Maintain a full Study Course
M-1Speciality Student VisaA Student Visa for those Studying Speciality Courses
G-1NATO VisaAllows a Designated Principal Resident to Representatives of Foreign Governments to Enter the United States for an International Organization
G-5NATO VisaThis Visa allows the Attendants, Servants or Personal Employees of G-1
Visa holders into the U.S.
H-1BFor specialist EmployeesA Visa for Specialist Employees who must have the U.S. equivilant of a
Bachelor's or Higher Degree.
H-1B1For Nationals of Chile and SingaporeA Variation of the H-1B Visa for Nationals of Singapore and Chile
H-2AFor Agricultural WorkersAllows the Visa Applicant to work in Agriculture, Temporarily or Seasonally
H-2BFor Temporary Non-Agricultural WorkersAllows the Visa Applicant to work in the U.S. under an Employer
doing Nonagricultural work for one-time only
H-3For Training PurposesA visa issued by the U.S. to trainees or special education exchange visitors,
who intend to perform their job outside the United States
IJournalists VisaFor Foreign Media Reprasentatives, who Travel to the United States for
work Purposes
JFor Exchange VisitorsFor Research Scholars, Professors and Exchange Visitors that come to the
United States Partaking in Programs to Promote Cultural Exchange
L-1Intracompany Transferee VisaThe Transferee must have been Employed in the Company Abroad in a
Managerial, Executive Capacity, or as a Person with Specialized Knowledge
L-2Spouse and Children of L-1 Visa ApplicantsTo Qualify for an L-2 Visa you must be either the Spouse or Child of an
L-1 Visa Applicant
O-1Work Visa for those with Exraodinary AbilitiesWork Visa for those with Exraodinary Abilities and must have
Received National or International Prizes in their Fields of Expertise
O-2Personnel or Assistants of O-1 Visa HoldersPersonnel or Assistants of O-1 Visa Holders
O-3Spouse and Children of O-1 and O-2 Visa ApplicantsSpouse and Children of O-1 and O-2 Visa Applicants
P-1For Athletes, Entertainers and ArtistsThe P-1 Visa is for Specific Athletes, Entertainers and Artists who's
expertise in their field Qualifies them for the U.S. Visa
P-2For Athletes, Entertainers and ArtistsFor Athletes, Entertainers and Artists who wish
to Perform in a Government program
Q-1Cultural Exchange VisaThe Purpose of the Program is to allow for Practical Training, Employment,
and the sharing of history, culture, and traditions
R-1Religious Work VisaAllows Religious Workers to Work in the United States for a Period up to
5 Years and after, Apply for Green Card Residency
T-1Victims of Human TraffickingThe Visa allows certain Victims of Human Trafficking and Immediate
Family Members to Temporarily work and live in the United States
TN/TDCanadian and Mexican citizens who Work in NAFTAWork Authorization to Citizens of Canada and Mexico who work for the
NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement)
VFamily Unity VisaThe V Visa is for Families of Immigrants waiting for their Immigrant Visas
to be Processed
UCrime VictimsA Visa for Crime Victims that have Suffered greatly from either
Mental or Physical Abuse

Nonimmigrant Visa Application

DS-160 Form:

Applying for any type of US nonimmigrant visa requires the completion of a DS-160 form. The DS-160 form is essentially an online visa application form, that you must fill in when applying for a nonimmigrant visa. This applies to all US nonimmigrant visas and also the K-1 visa, which is an immigrant fiance visa. The DS-160 form is submitted electronically to the Department of State website via the Internet. Consular Officers use the information entered on the DS-160 to process your visa application and, combined with a personal interview, determine your eligibility for a nonimmigrant visa.

When completing and filing the DS-160 form electronically, you will have to submit several supporting documents such as:

  • Standard Required Documents for US Visas.
  • Those applying for F, J, and M visas will also have to complete an application in the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVIS). You will also need to enter your SEVIS ID in the DS-160 form and the name and address of the university you will be attending. Your SEVIS ID is found on your I-20 form or DS-2019 form.
  • Those applying for H-1B, H-2, H-3, CW1, L, O, P, R, visas will need to provide information from their I-129 form regarding their employment and purpose of the visit when completing the DS-160.
  • Those applying for an E-2 Treaty Investor Visa or E-1 Treaty Trader Visa also need to submit the DS-156E form.

US Visa Fees

The fees associated with nonimmigrant visas vary depending on the type of visa. To see a full table and more information regarding the US Nonimmigrant Visa Fees we have created a separate page for this.

US Embassy Interview

Once you have completed the steps above, you will need to book an interview at either the US Consulate in the country you are a national of or the US Embassy. However, sometimes it will be a specific US Consulate that will conduct interviews and process visa applications for certain visas, to find out where to book your visa interview, look at the official US Consulate or Embassy website for your specific country.

Firstly, once your form has been submitted, you will be shown a DS-160 barcode page, which you will be required to print and show to the US Embassy or Consulate when attending your interview. Secondly, you will have to schedule a visa appointment; this can be done through your local Embassy or Consulate.

The information and details you provide with your application, along with your interview, will determine whether or not your visa is approved, enabling you and your family to move to the United States temporarily.

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Jason Coles

Jason Coles is the Founder of Foreign USA and its Chief Content Writer and Editor. Recognized as a prolific business plan writer by many prominent immigration attorneys in the U.S., Jason has written over 1,200 business plans over the past 16+ years for start-ups looking to establish and expand their footprint in the United States.