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What Types of Visas Are Available to Visitors to the U.S.?

In the United States, the two government entities in charge of visa issuance and administration are the State Department as well as Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). There are two main visa categories: immigrant and nonimmigrant.

Foreigners who wish to visit the United States are given non-immigrant visas that identify them as visitors. These visas are understood to be temporary and for the following purposes:

Medical treatment
Visiting relatives
Cultural presentations
Short volunteer programs
Sports events

The above qualified activities can be conducted with a visitor’s visa or with a visa waiver, which is granted to individuals with passports issued to less than 40 developed countries understood to be close allies of the United States. In many cases, these are NATO member nations.

Types of Visas for Visitors to the United States

In general, there are just two main categories: B-1 is for business or temporary employment immigration and B-2 for tourism, pleasure and other personal affairs. These two categories can be combined in some cases. Subcategories of visas for visitors can be considered to be different types as they depend on certain circumstances that require annotations.

APEC Business Travel

Visitors who have Asian-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) travel cards for business purposes can get expedited B-1 visa processing.

Sailors and Maritime Workers

Visitors who need to enter the U.S. in the course of maritime duties must get a Transportation Worker Identification Credential (TWIC) along with their B-1 visa.

Chinese Citizens

Certain visitors who have passports issued by the People’s Republic of China can get B-1 and B-2 visas valid for 10 years, although this validity is not the same as the permanence period. In November 2016, holders of this visa will be required to update their information via a special web portal.

Mexican Citizens

B-1 and B-2 visas issued to citizens of Mexico are now Border Crossing Cards that make travel easier. These travel permits are sometimes called “Laser Visas.”

To learn more about visas and immigration to the United States, contact KS Visa Law at (858) 874-0711 today. We are the leading immigration attorneys in San Diego that help potential residents through every step of the process. Schedule a free consultation when you call.

July 2024