Apply for a U.S. Visa

Applying for a U.S. Visa

A valid visa is required to lawfully enter the United States. For information on processing times and procedures, visit the U.S. Department of State.

Quick Facts about U.S. Visas:

The Visa Interview

An in-person consular interview is generally required and you should schedule your appointment as soon as possible. Please be aware that there could be substantial delays due to visa appointment wait times and visa processing times.

Background and Security Checks

U.S. Embassies and Consulates routinely conduct background checks on visa applicants. In some cases, background checks result in significant delays in visa issuance. Please inform International Student and Scholar Services and your department at UT if you experience significant delays in visa issuance.

Exception for Canadian Citizens

If you are a Canadian citizen, you are not required to obtain a U.S. visa stamp in your passport. However, if you plan to come to UT as an F-1 or J-1 student, scholar, or researcher you must pay the SEVIS fee before entering the United States.

Bringing Family Members with You

Immediate family members (spouse and unmarried children under the age of 21) who will accompany you to the U.S. may apply for dependent visas.

Visa Application Requirements

  • Application form DS 160
  • Payment of the visa application fee
  • U.S. passport-style photos for each visa applicant
  • Passport(s) valid for at least 6 months into the future for each visa applicant
  • F/J Visas

    • Signed original form I-20 or DS-2021
    • SEVIS Fee Receipt
    • Proof of ties to your home country: F and J visas are non-immigrant visas. This means that you must demonstrate that you plan to return to your home country upon completion of your program. You can do this by showing strong ties to your home country with evidence such as proof of property ownership, a job offer letter, or letters from family.
    • Proof of financial support: You must be able to verify that you have funds for at least one year of residence in the United States. Be prepared to show bank statements from your personal account or your sponsor’s account. If you have a sponsor, you should also provide an official statement of financial support. For those receiving funds from UT Austin, you should provide a letter from your supporting department that specifies your position, salary, and benefits.
    • J-1 Exchange Visitors in professor, researcher, short term scholar and intern categories: Provide the invitation letter you received from your sponsoring UT department.
    • J-1 Exchange Visitors in student categories: (1) Newly admitted students – UT admission letter; (2) Current students – Official UT Transcript in a sealed envelope and a Letter of Good Standing (also known as Certification of Enrollment)
  • H-1B Visas

    • Original I-797 H-1B Approval Notice: This is the form issued by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services upon approval of your H-1B petition.
    • Copy of H-1B Petition: The petition includes Form I-129 and the certified Labor Condition Application (LCA).
    • Employment Verification: Your department should issue a letter on official letterhead that includes your name, position, employment dates, and a brief job description. We also recommend you bring your three most recent earning statements from UT as evidence of your continuing employment.
  • Applications for Dependent Visas

    • Be prepared to show evidence of relationship to the primary visa applicant such as a marriage certificate, birth certificate, or official family registry.
    • If dependents are attending the visa interview alone, they will need to bring copies of all documents listed above for the primary visa holder.

SEVIS Fee (F and J only)

If you are applying for an F-1 or J-1 visa, you are required to pay the SEVIS fee. Be sure to pay at least three business days before your scheduled interview.

  • You will need the information listed on your I-20 or DS-2021 to complete payment.
  • Pay with a credit card or by Western Union Quick Pay using Form I-901.
  • Print the electronic receipt immediately upon payment. You will need to show it to the consular officer at the time of your interview.
  • F-1 students pay $350 while J-1 Exchange Visitors pay $220. The fee is non-refundable, even if the visa application is denied.
  • Spouses and dependent children are not required to pay the fee.

The Visa Stamp in My Passport is About to Expire, Do I Need a New One?

The visa stamp in your passport is required only for entry into the United States. Once you are in the U.S. the visa stamp may expire as long as you have:

  • A passport that is valid for at least six months into the future
  • An unexpired I-20 (for F-1s) or DS-2021 (for J-1s)
  • An I-94 that indicates D/S (F-1 and J-1 only) or a date into the future

If you leave the country, you will need to apply for a new visa before returning to the United States.

Applying for a U.S. Visa in a Third Country

U.S. visa holders who apply for a visa stamp in a country other than their own are known as “third country nationals”. To make sure you are eligible to apply for a new visa as a third country national, be sure to contact the U.S. Embassy or Consulate Office in that country before traveling.

If your application is denied, you will not be allowed to reenter the U.S. with your expired visa stamp and must immediately return to your home country. If your application is delayed due to a prolonged background check, you will be required to remain in that country until the background check is completed.

Those who wish to apply as third country nationals in Mexico or Canada should discuss their plans with an advisor in ISSS before making arrangements. In general, ISSS does not recommend that third country nationals apply for a U.S. visa in Mexico or Canada.

Apply for a U.S. Scholar Visa

Overview

Continuing UCSD international scholars who are traveling outside the U.S. and have expired visas, or have changed status while in the U.S. must apply for a new visa at a U.S. embassy or consulate abroad in order to reenter the U.S.

Visa Processing Time

All visa applications also require a face-to-face interview with a U.S. consular officer. The visa application process can take up to 6-8 weeks or longer, so plan accordingly. DO NOT PURCHASE NON-REFUNDABLE TICKETS UNTIL YOU HAVE YOUR VISA STAMP IN YOUR PASSPORT!

Important Notice:

Effective immediately, U.S. embassies and consulates will adjudicate visa applications that are based on a same-sex marriage in the same way that they adjudicate applications for opposite gender spouses. Please reference the specific guidance on the visa category for which you are applying for more details on documentation required for derivative spouses.

Schedule a visa appointment

Gather documents for your visa interview

Prior to your visa appointment, consult the website for the U.S. embassy or consulate that you will visit. Go to the Nonimmigrant Visa section and follow the instructions. Many people are denied visas when they are unprepared.

As part of the visa application process, you will have to complete a DS-160 application form for the US embassy or consulate. Please consult the U.S. State Department’s DS-160 Frequently Asked Questions for more information.

At the visa interview, J Scholars must present:

  • Passport which is valid up to six months after date of entry into the U.S.
  • Form DS-2021 (J-1 scholars) with valid travel signature
  • Form DS-7002 (required for Student Intern DS-2021 Category only)
    • The Form DS-7002 is required only for the Student Intern J-1 category.  If this category is indicated in box 4 of the Form DS-2021, then the Form DS-7002 must be completed and signed by the prospective Student Intern, the intern’s supervisor, and a representative from the UC San Diego International Scholar Office, and brought to the visa application interview.
  • Evidence of financial support
  • Home country address and documentation of home ties (if available)

In some instances, you may be asked for additional documentation so we also recommend that you bring the following:

  • Letter from your academic department verifying program start date, good standing, expected program completion, and a brief description of the nature of your research

H-1B Scholars must present:

  • Passport which is valid up to six months after date of entry into the U.S.
  • Original I-797 Approval Notice
  • Copy of your H-1B petition (I-129 and LCA)
  • Letter from your employer/sponsoring department certifying continuing employment/activity at UC San Diego
  • If you were previously in J status and subject to the 212e Two-Year Residency Requirement, bring your I-612 waiver approval or proof of fulfilling the two-year requirement.

Preparing for your visa interview

Based on information received from various consular officers, the following are recommendations to prepare for your visa interview:

  • Listen carefully to what the consular officer asks you and then answer the question directly.
  • Be prepared to show strong ties to your home country with official documentation. Ties to your country are ties that compel you to leave the U.S. after you finish your program of study.
  • If your family owns a property, take the deeds of papers showing your ownership.
  • If you and your family have had numerous past visits to the U.S., take along passports, even old ones – to show that you have many visas and many visits, but after every visit to U.S. you still returned to your home country.
  • If you have membership in a professional organization in your home country, bring proof of this membership.
  • If you have the prospect of a job offer, get a letter from the company saying that you will be considered for the job upon your return
  • Answer every question truthfully.

Some factors that might work against you in the mind of the consular officer are:

  • Someone in the U.S is promising to support you
  • Lack of family ties
  • Poor job prospect upon return
  • Poor English language ability

Read more interview tips:

  • Things to Remember When Applying for Your Non-Immigrant Visa

Visa processing time

The time it will take for the Consular Section to process your visa application can vary depending on:

  • the completeness of your visa application
  • the amount of verification your visa application requires can affect the amount of time it takes to process your application
  • Consular Section may find that you need to provide further information before a decision can be made on your application

If you wish to view the estimate on how long you will have to wait to get an interview appointment, please visit the U.S Department of State online tool at https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/us-visas/visa-information-resources/wait-times.html.  This online tool will also tell you how long it will take for your visa to be processed at the Consular Section, after a decision is made by a Consular Officer to issue the Visa. Please note that the processing time does not include any time required for administrative processing.

Visa delay or denial

J-1 scholars who can no longer participate in their J-1 program, due to cancellations or visa denials, should return their DS-2021s to the International Scholar Office at 2021 Gilman Drive #0123, La Jolla, CA 92093-0123.

Visa application appointments:

U.S. consulates abroad have huge volumes of visa applications, and certain times of the year, particularly prior to school starting in the fall and during holidays, can be especially busy and result in longer wait times for visa appointments. See wait-times for visa appointments at consulates abroad.

Security checks:

U.S. Department of State screens all visa applicants; a wide variety of background checks exist, and visa applicants are selected for these various checks based on different reasons, including their planned activity in the U.S. (if their research might be considered of dual purpose), their country of origin, their recent travel destinations, or even their name (particularly common names). Once a background check has been instigated, the visa cannot be issued until the check has been completed. This can take a month or more, though federal agencies do try to resolve checks within 30 days.

Visa delays:

Delays are not uncommon for scholars arriving from abroad, and usually stem from the visa application process. Scholars are advised to wait to make firm travel plans only after receiving their visa stamp.

If you are delayed, contact your sponsoring department immediately.

Visa denials:

For J, B, and TN visas, scholars are required to show non-immigrant intent (that they plan to return to their home country at the end of their stay) to the visa-issuing consular official. To prove this, a scholar may show a deed to real-estate owned in the home country, or a letter from their current employer stating the expectation that they will return to employment there after their stay in the U.S. (see visa denials). If a scholar is not able to prove this to the satisifaction of the consular official, the visa may be denied. To reapply, the scholar will need to show additional evidence of ties to their home country. While there are other reasons for denial, immigrant intent is the most common one. The H-1B classification allows for immigrant intent, and denials thus are much more rare in this category.

If you are denied a visa, you will be informed of the reason for the denial and be given the opportunity to reappear if you can provide additional evidence to support your case.

Note: Nationals of certain countries, and all internationals whose area of research has been deemed sensitive by the US Department of Homeland Security, will have their names submitted for a special security clearance procedure that may take up to 4-6 weeks before a visa is issued. Disciplines such as nuclear technology, chemical and biotechnology engineering, and advanced computer or microelectronic technology, as well as a broad range of engineering and physical sciences are on the «Technology Alert List.» Scholars in these fields should expect delays in obtaining visas at consulates abroad.

Before reapplying, be sure you understand the grounds for your denial so that you can appeal effectively. Contact the UCSD International Center if you need additional assistance.

Applying for a U.S. visa in a country other than your own

We strongly encourage you to apply for a visa in your home country because you may have difficulty getting a visa from a U.S. Embassy or Consulate in a country other than your own. In general, the following individuals are eligible to apply for a visa renewal as Third Country Nationals:

  • Applicants seeking to renew their C, D, F, H, I, J, L, M, O, P and R visas, provided the initial visa was issued in the applicant’s home country or at one of the border posts in the past few years.
  • Applicants for visas that reflect a change of status (e.g. F-1 to J-1), provided the applicant originally entered the U.S. in other than B status and possesses an original change of status notice (I-797) from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

The following individuals are strongly discouraged from applying for a visa renewal as Third Country Nationals because there may be a high risk of denial:

  • Applicants who entered the U.S. with a B-1/B-2 visa issued in their home country that changed status to another visa category, e.g., F-1, J-1, H1B, but the visa did not have an annotation indicating intent to change status.
  • Applicants who have been out of status in the U.S. having violated the terms of their visas or having overstayed the validity indicated on their I-94s.
  • A, B, E, G and Q visa applications, including renewals are not accepted from Third Country Nationals that are not residents in the appropriate consular district.
  • Citizens of Iran, Sudan, Cuba and Syria.

Visa renewals in Canada or Mexico

International scholars who are not citizens of Canada or Mexico, but who wish to apply for visas in Canada or Mexico should meet an advisor to discuss their plans. Scholars subject to special security clearances are not eligible for reentry into the U.S. until this process is complete. Please consider the delays that security checks may cause and plan accordingly.

To set an appointment in Canada, please:

  • Visit ais.usvisa-info.com/
  • Call (900) 443-3131 (fee required)

To set an appointment in Mexico, please:

  • Visit ais.usvisa-info.com/
  • Call 1-703-439-2313
  • Skype (Skype name USVISAMEXICO)

Applying for a visa to other countries

When traveling to a third country (other than your home country or the U.S.), remember that a new set of laws will be in effect. You are likely to need a visa to enter that country. To learn more about visa requirements, contact the country’s closest consulate in the U.S.

U.S. Embassy & Consulates
in Russia

Out of concern for the health of our Russian and American staff and the public in light of the global COVID-19 pandemic, the U.S. Mission to Russia has reduced visa operations and routine American citizen services.

Consulate General Yekaterinburg has begun to accept a limited number of interview waiver visa applications for C1/D and F visas ONLY.

Please visit https://www.ustraveldocs.com/ru/index.html For more information.

The purpose of your intended travel and other facts will determine what type of visa is required under U.S. immigration law. As a visa applicant, you will need to establish that you meet all requirements to receive the category of visa for which you are applying.

See our Directory of Visa Categories on usvisas.state.gov to determine which visa category might be appropriate for your purpose of travel to the United States.

What is a Visa?

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. The Visa section of this website is all about U.S. visas for foreign citizens to travel to the United States.

(Note: U.S. citizens don’t need a U.S. visa for travel, but when planning travel abroad may need a visa issued by the embassy of the country they wish to visit.).

Contact Us

To contact a customer service representative, please visit the GSS Contact Us page for full information or use contact information below. Visa application services call center agents are available from 8:00 AM to 8:00PM from Monday through Friday, able to assist you via telephone or chat.

Email[email protected]

Telephone: Callers in Russia: +7 (495) 745 2021 or 8 (800) 100-2554 (toll free)
Callers in the United States: +1 (703) 745 5474

Chat: To chat with a customer service representative, please click here. Chat software works with Internet Explorer 8.0, Internet Explorer 7.0, Internet Explorer 6 Service Pack 2, and Firefox 3.6.

For case-specific inquiries not answered on our visa application website or by the call center, you may contact the relevant Consular Section’s public inquiries team at:

Customer Service Statement

The Department of State manages the visa process strictly but fairly in order to best protect the United States.  We are committed to the essential openness for which the United States has always been known.  Travel to the United States is welcomed and encouraged.

We promise to you, the visa applicant, that:

  • We will treat you with dignity and respect, even if we are unable to grant you a visa.
  • We will treat you as an individual and your case as unique.
  • We will remember that, to you, a visa interview may be a new or intimidating experience and that you may be nervous.
  • We will use the limited time available for the interview to get as full a picture as possible of your travel plans and intentions.
  • We will use our available resources to fairly assist all applicants to get appointments to allow travel in time for business, study, and other important obligations.
  • We will post detailed and accurate information on visa requirements and application procedures on every Embassy and Consulate website.
  • We will provide information on non-immigrant appointment waiting times at every Embassy and Consulate posted on http://travel.state.gov.
  • We will explain the reason for any visa denial to you.

Furthermore, if you are a:

  • Student, we will make every effort to ensure that you get an appointment and, if qualified, a visa in time to start classes.
  • Medical and humanitarian emergency traveler, we will expedite processing for those dealing with life threatening emergencies.
  • Business traveler, we will establish appropriate mechanisms to facilitate business travel and expedite cases of particular concern to American business.

At the same time, we expect you, the visa applicant, to:

  • Plan your travel and visa application as far in advance as possible.
  • Complete your application fully and accurately.
  • Be forthcoming about your purpose and plans.
  • Prepare for your interview by being able to clearly and concisely describe your intentions.

U.S. Visas

What is a U.S. Visa?

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. The Visa section of this website is all about U.S. visas for foreign citizens to travel to the United States.

(Note: U.S. citizens don’t need a U.S. visa for travel, but when planning travel abroad may need a visa issued by the embassy of the country they wish to visit. In this situation, when planning travel abroad, learn about visa requirements by country, see country information in the International Travel Section section of this website.)

More Information about Visas

Find out what visa type is appropriate for you

Visa Appointment Wait Time

A wait time listed as «999 calendar days» indicates that the Consular Section is only providing that service to emergency cases.  Please check the Embassy or Consulate website for further information.

Select a U.S. Embassy or Consulate:

Visa Wait Times

Nonimmigrant Visa Type Appointment Wait Time
Visitor Visa — days
Student/Exchange Visitor Visas — days
All Other Nonimmigrant Visas — days

Important Announcement

Due to the Russian government’s ordered closure of the U.S. Consulate General in St. Petersburg, we are no longer able to provide visa services there.  Please consult the website for the U.S. Embassy in Moscow.

Travel to the United States

USA Visa Application Service

B2 Tourist Visas

The B-2 Tourism Visa is intended for people who wish to come to the United States to enjoy themselves for a limited period of time. Activities permissible under a B-2 visa are limited to:

  • Tourism
  • Vacation
  • Visiting with friends and/or relatives
  • Medical treatment
  • Participation in social events held by fraternal, social, or service organizations
  • Participation in amateur athletics and entertainment events where the visa holder is not paid to participate
  • Enrolment in a short educational course that does not confer credit towards a degree

Individuals in the United States on a B-2 Tourist Visa are prohibited from:

  • Study to advance a degree
  • Employment
  • Paid performances including any professional performance before a paying audience
  • Arrival as a crewmember on a ship or aircraft
  • Work as foreign press, radio, or film journalist, or other information media
  • Permanent residence in the United States

To apply, you must:

  • Complete the Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application, Form DS-160
  • The form will require that you upload a photo meeting USCIS requirements
  • Print the application form confirmation page to bring to your interview
  • If you are older than 13 and less than 80, you will likely need to schedule an interview at the U. S. Embassy or Consulate in your country of residence or citizenship.
  • If you are 13 or under, or 80 or over, you will not generally be required to attend an interview, but consular officers have discretion in these matters.
  • Pay a non-refundable visa application fee of $160.
  • If your visa is granted, there may be an addition visa issuing fee depending on your nationality.

B1 Business Visas

The B-1 Business Visa is intended for people to conduct minor business matters including:

  • Consultation with business associates
  • Attending scientific, education, profession, or business conventions or conferences
  • Settling estates
  • Negotiating contracts

Individuals in the United States on a B-1 Business Visa are prohibited from:

  • Study to advance a degree
  • Employment
  • Paid performances including any professional performance before a paying audience
  • Arrival as a crewmember on a ship or aircraft
  • Work as foreign press, radio, or film journalist, or other information media
  • Permanent residence in the United States

To apply, you must:

  • Complete the Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application, Form DS-160
  • The form will require that you upload a photo meeting USCIS requirements
  • Print the application form confirmation page to bring to your interview
  • If you are older than 13 and less than 80, you will likely need to schedule an interview at the U. S. Embassy or Consulate in your country of residence or citizenship.
  • If you are 13 or under, or 80 or over, you will not generally be required to attend an interview, but consular officers have discretion in these matters.
  • Pay a non-refundable visa application fee of $160.
  • If your visa is granted, there may be an addition visa issuing fee depending on your nationality.

C-1 Transit Visa

The C-1 Transit Visa is intended for use by individuals who are travelling through the United States to a destination outside the United States. The following forms of travel are PERMITTED with a C-1 Visa:

  • A foreign citizen travelling to another destination who has a brief layover in the United States for whom the only reason for entering the United States is to transit through.
  • A passenger embarking from a foreign port on a cruise ship or other vessel that is destined for a country other than the United States that makes port in the United States with no intention of landing.
  • A crewmember travelling to the United States as a passenger to join a ship or aircraft you will work on. Note, you will also need a Class D Crewmember Visa and these are often issued jointly as a C-1/D.

The following types of travel are expressly FORBIDDEN on a C-1 Visa:

  • A foreign citizen whose layover in the United States is for a primary purpose other than transit, such as visiting friends or sightseeing. This requires a Class B Visitor Visa.
  • A coasting officer seeking entry to the United States requires a Class B Visitor Visa
  • A crewmember on a private yacht that will be sailing in U. S. waters for more than 29 days is required to have a Class B Visitor Visa
  • An officer or employee of a designated international organization assigned to the United States may pass in immediate and continuous transit through the United States on a G-4 Visa.

To apply, you must:

  • Complete the Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application, Form DS-160
  • The form will require that you upload a photo meeting USCIS requirements
  • Print the application form confirmation page to bring to your interview
  • If you are older than 13 and less than 80, you will likely need to schedule an interview at the U. S. Embassy or Consulate in your country of residence or citizenship.
  • If you are 13 or under, or 80 or over, you will not generally be required to attend an interview, but consular officers have discretion in these matters.
  • Pay a non-refundable visa application fee of $160.
  • If your visa is granted, there may be an addition visa issuing fee depending on your nationality.

Visa Waiver

Citizens of participating countries* are eligible to travel within the United States for up to 90 days if they meet all of the following:

  • Travel must meet the requirements for a B Vistor Visa
  • If traveling for business, the business activities must be limited to:
    • Consulting with business associates
    • Negotiating contracts
    • Attending scientific, education, professional, or business conventions or conferences
    • Attending short-term training where you are not paid by any source in the United States for anything but incidental expenses
    • If traveling for pleasure, activities are restricted to:
      • Tourism
      • Vacation
      • Visiting friends and/or relatives
      • Medical treatment
      • Participation in social events held by fraternal, social, or service organizations
      • Participation in amateur sports or entertainment events or contests—provided the traveller is not being paid to participate
      • Enrolment in a short recreational course of study that is not for credit towards a degree

The following are not permitted on the Visa Waiver Program:

  • Study for credit
  • Employment
  • Work as foreign press, radio, or film journalists, or other information media
  • Permanent residence in the United States

*Participating countries: Andorra, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brunei, Chile, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Monaco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, San Marino, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, United Kingdom. To apply, visit: https://www.official-esta.com/

H-1B Temporary Work Visa 

The H-1B visa is one of a number of visas categorized as temporary employment visas. These visas require that the prospective US employer to file a petition with United States Citizenship and Immigration Services. This petition must be approved before the worker may apply for the Temporary Work Visa.

The H1-B Temporary Work Visa applies to individuals who work in a specialty occupation, defined as something that requires a higher educational degree or the equivalent. Examples would include fashion models of distinction, individuals involved in government-to-government research, or co-production projects administered by the Department of Defense.

If more than 15% of an employer’s employees are in the United States on H-1B visas, the employer will be considered to be H-1B dependent, and will be required to recruit U. S. workers “in good faith.”

To apply, one must first have the prospective employer petition and receive approval from the USCIS, then:

  • Complete the Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application, Form DS-160
  • The form will require that you upload a photo meeting USCIS requirements
  • Print the application form confirmation page to bring to your interview
  • If you are older than 13 and less than 80, you will likely need to schedule an interview at the U. S. Embassy or Consulate in your country of residence or citizenship.
  • If you are 13 or under, or 80 or over, you will not generally be required to attend an interview, but consular officers have discretion in these matters.
  • Pay a non-refundable visa application fee of $160.
  • If your visa is granted, there may be an addition visa issuing fee depending on your nationality.

H-1B1

There is a sub category of H1-B Visas called an H-1B1 Free Trade Agreement Professional that applies only to applicants from Chile or Singapore. These visas are exempted from the petition rules so an applicant may apply without a prospective employer’s petition.

The applicant must be a professional occupation that requires a secondary degree of at least four years’ study.

H2-B Temporary Work Visa

The O-1 visa is one of a number of visas categorized as temporary employment visas. These visas require that the prospective US employer to file a petition with United States Citizenship and Immigration Services. This petition must be approved before the worker may apply for the Temporary Work Visa.

The H-2B Temporary Work Visa is intended for temporary or seasonal work that is NOT agricultural in nature. This visa is limited to citizens or nationals of designated countries, though there are exceptions if determined to be in the interested of the United States.

To apply, one must first have the prospective employer petition and receive approval from the USCIS, then:

  • Complete the Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application, Form DS-160
  • The form will require that you upload a photo meeting USCIS requirements
  • Print the application form confirmation page to bring to your interview
  • If you are older than 13 and less than 80, you will likely need to schedule an interview at the U. S. Embassy or Consulate in your country of residence or citizenship.
  • If you are 13 or under, or 80 or over, you will not generally be required to attend an interview, but consular officers have discretion in these matters.
  • Pay a non-refundable visa application fee of $160.
  • If your visa is granted, there may be an addition visa issuing fee depending on your nationality.

L-1 Intra Company Transfer

The L-1 Visa is a temporary employment visa intended to allow intra company transfers. As a temporary employment visa, the L-1 requires that the company file a petition before the individual applies for a visa. The individual must have been employed by the petitioning employer for one year in the previous three years, and must be entering the US to work at a branch, parent, affiliate, or subsidiary of the current employer in an executive, supervisory, or specialized capacity.

To qualify as an executive, the individual must:

  • Direct the management of a major component or function of the organization
  • Establish the goals and policies of the organization, component, or function
  • Exercise wide latitude in decision-making
  • Receive general, non-specific direction from higher ranking executives, the board of directors, or stockholders.

To qualify as a manager, the individual must:

  • Manage some defined portion of the organization
  • Manage other employees who are themselves in a managerial, supervisory, or professional capacity, or manage an essential function
  • Possess the authority to hire and fire and perform other personnel actions such as promotions and leave authorizations.
  • If no employees are managed, the individual must function at a senior level within the organization in respect to the function managed.
  • Exercise discretion over the day to day operations of the area over which the employee has authority.

To qualify as a specialized knowledge transferee, the individual must:

  • Possess intimate knowledge of the company, its products, and how they apply in international markets or,
  • Possess an advanced knowledge of the company, its policies, and procedures.

To apply, one must first have the prospective employer petition and receive approval from the USCIS, then:

  • Complete the Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application, Form DS-160
  • The form will require that you upload a photo meeting USCIS requirements
  • Print the application form confirmation page to bring to your interview
  • If you are older than 13 and less than 80, you will likely need to schedule an interview at the U. S. Embassy or Consulate in your country of residence or citizenship.
  • If you are 13 or under, or 80 or over, you will not generally be required to attend an interview, but consular officers have discretion in these matters.
  • Pay a non-refundable visa application fee of $160.
  • If your visa is granted, there may be an addition visa issuing fee depending on your nationality.

O-1 Extraordinary Ability Visa

The O-1 visa is one of a number of visas categorized as temporary employment visas. These visas require that the prospective US employer to file a petition with United States Citizenship and Immigration Services. This petition must be approved before the worker may apply for the Temporary Work Visa.

This visa category is intended to allow those who have achieved acclaim in the sciences, arts, education, business, athletics, or entertainment, to work in their field of expertise.

Individuals providing essential support to those with extraordinary abilities are also considered under this visa category.

To apply, one must first have the prospective employer petition and receive approval from the USCIS, then:

  • Complete the Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application, Form DS-160
  • The form will require that you upload a photo meeting USCIS requirements
  • Print the application form confirmation page to bring to your interview
  • If you are older than 13 and less than 80, you will likely need to schedule an interview at the U. S. Embassy or Consulate in your country of residence or citizenship.
  • If you are 13 or under, or 80 or over, you will not generally be required to attend an interview, but consular officers have discretion in these matters.
  • Pay a non-refundable visa application fee of $160.
  • If your visa is granted, there may be an addition visa issuing fee depending on your nationality.
  • To apply, one must first have the prospective employer petition and receive approval from the USCIS, then:

  • Complete the Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application, Form DS-160
  • The form will require that you upload a photo meeting USCIS requirements
  • Print the application form confirmation page to bring to your interview
  • If you are older than 13 and less than 80, you will likely need to schedule an interview at the U. S. Embassy or Consulate in your country of residence or citizenship.
  • If you are 13 or under, or 80 or over, you will not generally be required to attend an interview, but consular officers have discretion in these matters.
  • Pay a non-refundable visa application fee of $160.
  • If your visa is granted, there may be an addition visa issuing fee depending on your nationality.

P-1 Individual or Team Athlete, or Member of an Entertainment Group Visa

The P-1 visa is one of a number of visas categorized as temporary employment visas. These visas require that the prospective US employer to file a petition with United States Citizenship and Immigration Services. This petition must be approved before the worker may apply for the Temporary Work Visa.

The P-1 visa category is intended for athletes or entertainers who wish to perform at a specific competition or event.

Individuals who provide essential support to the athlete or entertainer may also be considered under this category.

To apply, one must first have the prospective employer petition and receive approval from the USCIS, then:

  • Complete the Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application, Form DS-160
  • The form will require that you upload a photo meeting USCIS requirements
  • Print the application form confirmation page to bring to your interview
  • If you are older than 13 and less than 80, you will likely need to schedule an interview at the U. S. Embassy or Consulate in your country of residence or citizenship.
  • If you are 13 or under, or 80 or over, you will not generally be required to attend an interview, but consular officers have discretion in these matters.
  • Pay a non-refundable visa application fee of $160.
  • If your visa is granted, there may be an addition visa issuing fee depending on your nationality.

P-2 Artist or Entertainer (Individual or Group)

The P-2 visa is one of a number of visas categorized as temporary employment visas. These visas require that the prospective US employer to file a petition with United States Citizenship and Immigration Services. This petition must be approved before the worker may apply for the Temporary Work Visa.

The P-2 visa category is intended for athletes or entertainers who wish to perform under a reciprocal exchange program between the United States and an organization in their home country.

Individuals who provide essential support to the athlete or entertainer may also be considered under this category.

To apply, one must first have the prospective employer petition and receive approval from the USCIS, then:

  • Complete the Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application, Form DS-160
  • The form will require that you upload a photo meeting USCIS requirements
  • Print the application form confirmation page to bring to your interview
  • If you are older than 13 and less than 80, you will likely need to schedule an interview at the U. S. Embassy or Consulate in your country of residence or citizenship.
  • If you are 13 or under, or 80 or over, you will not generally be required to attend an interview, but consular officers have discretion in these matters.
  • Pay a non-refundable visa application fee of $160.
  • If your visa is granted, there may be an addition visa issuing fee depending on your nationality.

P-3 Artist or Entertainer 

The P-3 visa is one of a number of visas categorized as temporary employment visas. These visas require that the prospective US employer to file a petition with United States Citizenship and Immigration Services. This petition must be approved before the worker may apply for the Temporary Work Visa.

The P-3 visa category is intended for artists or entertainers who wish to perform, teach, or coach a culturally unique or traditional ethnic musical, theatrical, or performance art.

Individuals who provide essential support to the athlete or entertainer may also be considered under this category.

To apply, one must first have the prospective employer petition and receive approval from the USCIS, then:

  • Complete the Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application, Form DS-160
  • The form will require that you upload a photo meeting USCIS requirements
  • Print the application form confirmation page to bring to your interview
  • If you are older than 13 and less than 80, you will likely need to schedule an interview at the U. S. Embassy or Consulate in your country of residence or citizenship.
  • If you are 13 or under, or 80 or over, you will not generally be required to attend an interview, but consular officers have discretion in these matters.
  • Pay a non-refundable visa application fee of $160.
  • If your visa is granted, there may be an addition visa issuing fee depending on your nationality.

Q-1 Participant in an International Cultural Exchange Program

The Q-1 visa is one of a number of visas categorized as temporary employment visas. These visas require that the prospective US employer to file a petition with United States Citizenship and Immigration Services. This petition must be approved before the worker may apply for the Temporary Work Visa.

The Q-1 visa category is intended for those who wish to pursue practical training and employment while sharing the history, culture, and traditions of their homeland through a cultural exchange program.

To apply, one must first have the prospective employer petition and receive approval from the USCIS, then:

  • Complete the Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application, Form DS-160
  • The form will require that you upload a photo meeting USCIS requirements
  • Print the application form confirmation page to bring to your interview
  • If you are older than 13 and less than 80, you will likely need to schedule an interview at the U. S. Embassy or Consulate in your country of residence or citizenship.
  • If you are 13 or under, or 80 or over, you will not generally be required to attend an interview, but consular officers have discretion in these matters.
  • Pay a non-refundable visa application fee of $160.
  • If your visa is granted, there may be an addition visa issuing fee depending on your nationality.

R-1 Religious Worker

The R-1 visa is intended for temporary religious workers who meet the following criteria:

  • The individual must be a member of the same religious denomination as the religious organization you plan to work for in the United States for at least two years before the organization files a petition on your behalf
  • The individual must be coming to the United States to work as a minister or in a religious vocation or occupation
  • The individual must be employed by a non-profit religious organization or an organization affiliated with the religious denomination in the United States
  • The individual must work at least part-time

Some ministerial activities can be performed on a Visitor visa. These activities are limited to:

  • Private worship, prayer, and informal religious study
  • Attendance at religious services or conferences
  • An evangelical tour that does not include appointments at specific churches
  • Missionary or volunteer service
  • Any wages paid must be paid by a religious group outside the United States

To apply, you must:

  • Complete the Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application, Form DS-160
  • The form will require that you upload a photo meeting USCIS requirements
  • Print the application form confirmation page to bring to your interview
  • If you are older than 13 and less than 80, you will likely need to schedule an interview at the U. S. Embassy or Consulate in your country of residence or citizenship.
  • If you are 13 or under, or 80 or over, you will not generally be required to attend an interview, but consular officers have discretion in these matters.
  • Pay a non-refundable visa application fee of $160.
  • If your visa is granted, there may be an addition visa issuing fee depending on your nationality.

I Media Visa

The Class I Media visa is intended for members of the working media with the following specifics:

  • An employee of foreign information media or of an independent production company having a credential issues by a professional journalistic association who is engaged in filming a news even or documentary
  • A member of the media engaged in the production or distribution of film, if the material being filmed will be used to disseminate information, news, or educational materials. Please note the primary source and distribution of funding must be from outside the United States.
  • A journalist working under contract with a credential issued by a professional journalistic organization, working on a product to disseminate information or news that is not intended for commercial entertainment or advertising
  • A foreign journalist working for an overseas branch office or subsidiary of a U. S. network, newspaper, or other media outlet, travelling in the United States to report on U. S. events solely for a foreign audience.
  • An accredited representative of a tourist bureau controlled or operated in whole or in part by a foreign government, engaged in disseminating factual tourist information about their home country who is not qualified for an A-2 Visa as a foreign government official or employee
  • An employee or an organization that distributes technical industrial information who will work in the U. S. office of that organization.

To apply, you must:

  • Complete the Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application, Form DS-160
  • The form will require that you upload a photo meeting USCIS requirements
  • Print the application form confirmation page to bring to your interview
  • If you are older than 13 and less than 80, you will likely need to schedule an interview at the U. S. Embassy or Consulate in your country of residence or citizenship.
  • If you are 13 or under, or 80 or over, you will not generally be required to attend an interview, but consular officers have discretion in these matters.
  • Pay a non-refundable visa application fee of $160.
  • If your visa is granted, there may be an addition visa issuing fee depending on your nationality.

Investor Visas

There are two kinds of investor visa, the E1 Trader Visa and the E2 Investor Visa. They were established for similar but distinct reasons, thus they have similar but distinct requirements.

The requirements for an E1 Trader Visa are as follows:

  • The person applying for the visa must be a resident of a treaty country.
  • The trading firm for which the applicant does business must be owned primarily (50% or more) by individuals of the same nationality.
  • There must be a sizeable and continuing volume of trade.
  • More than half of the trade conducted must be between the US and the treaty country.
  • Trade is defined as the international exchange of goods, services, or technology. The title to the goods must pass from one party to another.
  • The applicant must be an essential employee, employed in a supervisory or executive capacity, or possess highly specialized skills. Ordinary skilled or unskilled workers do not qualify.

The requirements for an E2 Investor Visa are as follows:

  • The investor—not the applicant—must have citizenship in a treaty country or be primarily (50% or more) owned by individuals who have citizenship in the treaty country.
  • The funds invested must be committed, irrevocable, and sufficient to ensure the successful operation of the enterprise.
  • The investment must be made in a real operating enterprise. Paper organizations and speculative investments do not qualify.
  • Uncommitted funds in a bank account, or similar security are not considered an investment.
  • The income generated must either be substantial enough to support more than the applicant’s family, or have a significant economic impact in the United States.
  • The applicant must have control of the funds and the funds must be at risk in the commercial sense. Loans secured by assets are not considered investments.

The applicant must be coming to the US to develop and direct the enterprise. If the applicant is not the principal investor, he or she must be considered an essential employee, employed in a supervisory, executive, or highly skilled capacity.
To apply, you must:

  • Complete the Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application, Form DS-160
  • The form will require that you upload a photo meeting USCIS requirements
  • Print the application form confirmation page to bring to your interview
  • If you are older than 13 and less than 80, you will likely need to schedule an interview at the U. S. Embassy or Consulate in your country of residence or citizenship.
  • If you are 13 or under, or 80 or over, you will not generally be required to attend an interview, but consular officers have discretion in these matters.
  • Pay a non-refundable visa application fee of $160.
  • If your visa is granted, there may be an addition visa issuing fee depending on your nationality.

F-1 Student Visa

The F-1 Student Visa is intended for students in University programs, High School, Private elementary schools, Seminaries, Conservatories, and other educational institutions. It is not intended for vocational or non academic training as those are covered under Visa Category M.

An individual travelling under a Class B Visa, or under the Visa Waiver Program may not participate in academic study.

To apply for a student visa, one must first receive an acceptance at an SEVP approved school. The SEVP is the Student and Exchange Visitor Program and you can search their list of approved schools here.

Once you have received your acceptance to the school of your choice, you will be entered in the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) and pay the appropriate fee. You will receive a Form I-20 which you will have to present to the consular official at your interview. If you are bringing family, each individual will require a separate Form I-20.

To apply, you must:

  • Complete the Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application, Form DS-160
  • The form will require that you upload a photo meeting USCIS requirements
  • Print the application form confirmation page to bring to your interview
  • If you are older than 13 and less than 80, you will likely need to schedule an interview at the U. S. Embassy or Consulate in your country of residence or citizenship.
  • If you are 13 or under, or 80 or over, you will not generally be required to attend an interview, but consular officers have discretion in these matters.
  • Pay a non-refundable visa application fee of $160.
  • If your visa is granted, there may be an addition visa issuing fee depending on your nationality.

J-1 Exchange Visitor 

The J-1 Exchange Visa category is intended to cover individuals participating in a number of different cultural exchanges including:

  • Serving as an au pair or intern
  • Attending a secondary school, college or university as a student
  • A government visitor
  • Physicians
  • Professors and research scholars
  • Short term scholars (limited to six months with no extensions permissible)
  • Specialist (maximum duration of one year)
  • Summer work and travel
  • Teacher
  • Trainee (maximum 18 months, agriculture programs limited to 12 months, hospitality training programs limited to 12 months and required to have three or more departmental rotations)

To apply, you must:

  • Complete the Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application, Form DS-160
  • The form will require that you upload a photo meeting USCIS requirements
  • Print the application form confirmation page to bring to your interview
  • If you are older than 13 and less than 80, you will likely need to schedule an interview at the U. S. Embassy or Consulate in your country of residence or citizenship.
  • If you are 13 or under, or 80 or over, you will not generally be required to attend an interview, but consular officers have discretion in these matters.
  • Pay a non-refundable visa application fee of $160.
  • If your visa is granted, there may be an addition visa issuing fee depending on your nationality.

M-1 Vocational or other recognized non academic institution Visa

The Class M visa is intended for those individuals who are travelling to the United States to seek training that is vocational and non-academic in nature.

To apply, you must:

  • Complete the Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application, Form DS-160
  • The form will require that you upload a photo meeting USCIS requirements
  • Print the application form confirmation page to bring to your interview
  • If you are older than 13 and less than 80, you will likely need to schedule an interview at the U. S. Embassy or Consulate in your country of residence or citizenship.
  • If you are 13 or under, or 80 or over, you will not generally be required to attend an interview, but consular officers have discretion in these matters.
  • Pay a non-refundable visa application fee of $160.
  • If your visa is granted, there may be an addition visa issuing fee depending on your nationality.

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