There are different types and categories of visas to enter the United States. Visa types usually are separated between immigrant visas and non-immigrant visas. Visa categories refer to what type of activity will the entering individual be doing while in the United States.
Acquiring the proper visa to enter the United States is extremely important as, in some circumstances, entering under one visa but performing a different activity may be considering visa fraud. Please contact an immigration attorney before determining what type and category of visas is best for you.
An immigrant visas to enter the United States allows the entering individual to come live, work, and reside in the United States. Each visa has different requirements and standards under the law. Non-immigrant visas allow entering individuals to stay in the United States temporarily where the intent is to return to the country of origin
- Visas for a spouse of a U.S. Citizen: IR1, CR1
- Visas for a spouse of a U.S. Citizen while an immigrant petition is adjudicated: K3
- Fiance visa to marry a U.S. Citizen and live and work in the United States: K1
- Family members of U.S. Citizens: IR2, CR2, IR5, F1, F3, F4
- Certain family members of Lawful Permanent Residents (green card holders): F2A, F2B
- Athletes, amateur or professional: B1 Visas
- Student Visas: F and M visas
- Exchange visitor (exchange visitor): J Visas
- Border Crossing Card (Mexico): BCC
- Business visitor: B-1 Visas
- Religious worker: R Visas
- Tourism, vacation, pleasure visitor: B1, B2 Visas
- Victims of Criminal Activity: U Visas
- Victims of Human Trafficking: T Visas
- Special Juvenile Visas: SIJ Visas
- Temporary Agricultural Worker H-2A
Remember that visas to enter the United States do not determine the duration of the stay. An immigration officer (customs officer) determines the length of your stay. The officer issues an I-94 (Record of Arrival and/or Departure), which specifies how long you have before you must leave the United States.
Under some circumstances, a length of stay must be extended. The I-94 is an extremely important document. It is conclusive evidence of lawful admission to the United States.
Changing status from one category to another, or from one type of visa to another is possible; however, under some visas, there are certain requirements that must be fulfilled first. For example, some J visas require two years outside of the United States before an adjustment can be made.
It is important to remember that some of these requirements may be waived with the proper filing showing the documentation to overcome the standard under the law. Waivers are somewhat complex and consulting with an attorney is highly recommended. For waiting times on visas to enter the United States visit the current visa bulletin.
Some applications for visas to enter the United States can be appealed if abuse of discretion is shown. However, adjudicators have a very wide range of discretion when adjudicating any kind of visa.