Types of Visas offered by US

Any foreign citizen who wishes to enter the United States must obtain a Visa. It could be a non-immigrant Visa for temporary stay or immigrant Visa for permanent stay. Indians have to take a non-immigrant Visa to enter the United States.

Non-immigrant Visa is used by business people, tourists, specialty works, and students who wish to stay in the U.S. for a temporary period to accomplish specific purposes. Those availing the non-immigrant Visa must demonstrate to the consular officer that they intend to leave the U.S after their temporary stay.

Visa type Purpose
A Foreign government officials and diplomats
A1, G-1, NATO1-6 Visa renewals
A-2, NATO1-6 Military personnel of a foreign country stationed in the U.S.

Amateur and professional athletes who are competing for prize money

Business visitors

Nannies or domestic employees


Visitors for medical treatment

Tourists, vacationers and pleasure visitors

BCC Mexican Border Crossing Card
C Transit in the U.S.

Crew members serving on aircrafts

Crew members serving on aircrafts

E-1 Treaty traders
E-2 Treaty investors
E-3 Australian professionals and specialty workers
F-1 Language and academic students
F-2 Dependents of F-1 Visa holders (Students)
G1- G5, NATO Designated international organisation’s employees and NATO

Chilean Free Trade Agreement (FTA) professionals

Singaporean FTA professionals

H1-B Physicians and highly specialised occupations requiring specific industry knowledge
H2-A Temporary workers for seasonal agriculture
H2-B Temporary workers for non-agricultural professions
H3 Primarily non-employment training programs
H1-C Nurses travelling to areas that has shortage of healthcare professionals
I Information media representatives and journalists

Exchange visitors

International cultural exchange visitors


Au-pairs exchange visitors

Professors, scholars and teachers as exchange visitors

J-2 Children under the ages of 21/ Spouse of J-1 holder
K-1 Fiance
L Intra company transferees
M-1 Vocational students
M-2 Dependent of M-1 holder
O-1 Foreign nationals possessing excellent knowledge and abilities in the fields of art, science, education, athletics or business
P Entertainers, artists and athletes
Q International cultural exchange visitors
R Religious works
TN/TD Mexican and Canadian NAFTA professional workers
T-1 Human trafficking victims
U-1 Victims of crime, criminal activity

Different types of US Visas

The most common types of US Visa from India are as follows:

  • Tourist or business Visa

    There are two types of Visas offered under this tourist or business Visa. They are:

    • B-1 for business associates, those attending scientific, educational, business conventions, settling an estate or to negotiate contracts.
    • B-2 for pleasure or for medical treatment. This includes tourism, visiting friends and family, medical treatment, social or service activities.

    Most often the two types are combined and issued as one Visa. You have to prove to the consular officer that the stay in the U.S. is on a temporary basis and you have to show the evidence of funds to cover your expenses while you are in the U.S. Proof of residence outside the US must be shown as well. You cannot accept employment under this visa.

  • Work Visa

    In order to work in the U.S. on a temporary basis, you need a specific Visa based on the type of work that you will be doing. Applicants of H, L, O, P and Q will have to get their petition approved on their behalf by USCIS. Form I-129 must be approved before applying for work Visa at the Consulate. After which the employer will receive Form I-797 that serves as your petition's approval notification. While giving your interview at the Consulate, you will have to bring I-129 and copy of Form I-797.

    Visas offered for work are as follows:

    • H1-B for Specialty occupation

      To qualify for the H1-B Visa you must hold at least a Bachelor's degree in specific specialty and USCIS will determine if your employment constitutes a specialty occupation and if you are qualified to perform the service. Employer is required to file labor condition application with the Department of Labor regarding the terms and condition of the contract of employment with you.

    • H-1 B-1 – Work Visa on a Temporary Basis

      Singaporean and Chilean citizens can apply visa in order to work in the U.S. on a temporary basis. However, individuals must already have a job offer in the US before they can apply for the visa.

    • H-2A for Seasonal agricultural workers

      This Visa allows U.S. employers to bring foreign nationals to fill the temporary agricultural job for which U.S. workers are not available. Employer must file Form I-129 petition on your behalf. Indians are not eligible for this Visa.

    • H-2B for skilled and unskilled workers

      This Visa is granted to those filling up a temporary or a seasonal job for which there is a shortage of U.S. workers. Indians are not eligible for this Visa.

    • H-3 for trainees

      This is required if you are coming to the U.S. to receive training in any field from an employer for a period of up to 2 years. You can be paid for the training but it cannot be used to provide productive employment.

    • H-4 for dependents

      If you are a holder of a valid H Visa, then your spouses and unmarried children under the ages of 21 may receive H-4 Visa so that they can accompany you to the U.S. But your spouse and children who hold this Visa are not permitted to work in the U.S.

    • L-1 for intra company transferees

      This Visa is required if you are an employee of an international company and getting transferred on a temporary basis to the parent branch or an affiliate or a subsidiary of the company. To qualify for this visa, you must be at a managerial or executive level and must have specialised knowledge in the position that you are destined to hold in the U.S. Company. You must be employed with the international company continuously for one year within the 3 years preceding the application for admission to the U.S.

    • L-2 for dependents

      If you are a holder of a valid L Visa, your spouses and unmarried children under the age of 21 may receive L-2 Visa to enter the U.S. If your spouse wishes to seek employment in the U.S., they will have to submit a completed Form I-765 with the application fee. Your children will not be authorised to work in the United States.

    • Type O Visa

      This type of Visa is offered to those with extraordinary ability in the science, education, arts, business and athletics or extraordinary achievement in motion picture and television production.

    • Type P Visa

      This Visa is offered to athletes, entertainer's artist, and essential support personnel who come to perform in the United States.

    • Type Q Visa

      This Visa is required if you are travelling to participate in international cultural exchange program in the U.S. for the purpose of providing training, employment, sharing history culture and traditions of your home country. The petition must be filed by the sponsor and is to be approved by USCIS.

  • Student Visa

    Foreign citizens who come to study in the U.S. are required to be accepted by the school or program. Once they have been accepted, they will be given necessary approval documents to submit while applying for the Student Visa. The students can apply for the Visa in 120 days from the start date of I-20 and they can travel within 30 days from the start of I-20. Visas offered for students are:

    • F-1 Visa

      This Visa if provided to those who wish to engage in academic studies in U.S. approved schools or in approved English language program. This Visa is needed if your course is for more than 18 hours a week. This Visa is issued to students attending public secondary school.

    • M-1 Visa

      This Visa is offered to those who are planning non-academic, vocational training or training in the U.S.

      Holders of A, E, H-4, F-2, G, J-2, L-2 and M-2 or any other Nonimmigrant Visas can get them enrolled in public secondary and elementary schools.

      Students who leave U.S. for a break in studies for 5 months or more may lose their F-1 or M-1 status unless their overseas activity was related to their course.

  • Exchange Visitor Visa

    Foreign citizens can come to the United States to participate in the exchange programs. But before you apply for the Visa, you need to be accepted and approved by the authorised program sponsor. The exchange visitor gets a J Visa that is designed to promote interchange of knowledge and skills in various fields. Participants can be:

    • Teachers
    • Students at academic levels
    • Professors
    • Research scholars
    • Professional trainees
    • Visitors coming for travel, consultation, research purposes, etc.
  • Ship Crew or Transit Visa

    The two types of Visas offered for transit or ship crew are mentioned below:

    • Transit C Visa

      This Visa is offered to citizen of a foreign country who is traveling to another country via the United States. If the traveller wishes to visit his friends or family then he has to seek layover privileges. He or she must qualify to obtain B-2 Visa.

    • Crew D Visa

      This Visa is offered to a crew member who is serving on a sea vessel or aircraft. The crew members generally use the combination of transit or crew Visa that is C-1 or D. if the crew member is serving on board a vessel within the Outer Continental Shelf, then he or she is qualified for a modified B-1 Visa instead of a crew Visa. Crew members who are entering U.S. during time off between flights or cruises must obtain B-1 or B-2 Visa.

  • Religious Worker Visa

    R type Visa is offered to those who wish to work in a religious capacity in the U.S. on a temporary basis. The religious worker includes persons who are authorised by a recognised entity to conduct religious activities.

  • Domestic Employee Visa

    Personal or domestic servants who accompany their employer to the U.S. are eligible for B-1 Visa. The domestic employees include:

    • Housemaids
    • Valets
    • Footmen
    • Cooks
    • Butlers
    • Chauffeurs
    • Nannies
    • Mother' helpers
    • Gardeners
    • Paid companions

    The domestic servants of a foreign diplomat or a government official is eligible for an A-3 or a G-5 Visa.

  • Media and Journalist Visa

    Media (I) Visa is offered to a nonimmigrant who represents a foreign media to travel to the United States for a temporary period to engage in their profession. However, they must have a home office in a foreign country.

    A visitor's Visa is offered to the foreign citizen if he or she is travelling for the following purposes:

    • Attending a conference or a meeting
    • Guest lecture
    • Engaging in academic activities
    • Purchasing media equipment
    • Vacation

    Temporary work Visa is offered if the foreign citizen is traveling for the following activities:

    • To film material for commercial entertainment or for advertising
    • Proofreaders, librarians and set designers
    • Staged events, television and quiz shows
    • To produce artistic media content

Spouses and children under the ages of 21 are allowed to accompany the principal Visa holder under the B-2 Visa.

FAQs on Types of Visas offered by US

  1. Will I get a money refund if my visa application gets rejected?

    No, the money will not be refunded, since the visa application got processed. The fees you paid while applying for a visa, involve the cost of processing a visa application. Anyone, who wishes to apply for a US visa, needs to pay this amount, irrespective of where they stay in the world.

  2. Is the visa a guarantee to enter the United States?

    No, a visa does not guarantee entry into the States. It only allows you to travel until the port-of-entry (airport or land border). After reaching there, you need to seek permission from the Department of Homeland Security, US Customs and Border Protection (CBP). These officials have the authority to allow or reject your stay request. The US immigration inspector gives you an admission stamp or paper Form I-94, arrival/departure record in your passport. It is important to keep this paper in your passport during your stay in the States, as it shows that you are a legal immigrant.

  3. For how long can I stay in the United States?

    The immigration officer records the duration period or a date on the admission stamp paper. You must abide by it and leave the States by that date. It is very important to keep paper Form I-94 or admission stamp in your passport as it is proof that you are permitted to stay in the US.

  4. What should I do if my visa gets damaged?

    You will have to reapply for a new visa at a Consulate abroad or at the US Embassy.

  5. What should I do if my immigrant visa expires before I travel to the United States?

    You may have to apply again for visa and pay the immigrant visa processing fee. You may also be required to submit new documents, like a police certificate and medical examination for the process. Do contact the Consulate or the US Embassy that issued your visa for detailed information. While submitting a new application, you may be asked to submit your expired, unused visa and there is no guarantee that your visa will get reissued.

  6. Can I know the visa application status of my friend?

    The visa records are confidential under the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) 222(f) of the US laws. Therefore, you cannot check the application status on behalf of your friend. The applicant should call up the US Embassy or the Consulate abroad to check for necessary the information regarding the visa.

Get Student Visa For Other Countries


News about Visas offered by US

  • Visitor visas to US not yet allowed for parents of Indian students

    The United States has opened up student visas to students from India who are joining the Fall 2021 term in universities in the country. However, visa interviews have not been opened up to the parents who would want to accompany such students to the US. This is because visitor or tourist visas to the US still remains prohibited as per a presidential proclamation that came into effect from 4 May 2021 on account of the increasing Covid-19 cases in India. Non-immigrant visa holders are being given allowed into the country from India under the National Interest Exception, but it will not be applicable to parents of Indian students who wish to accompany them to the country for the reopening of university.

    21 June 2021

  • Govt Lifts Restrictions On E-Visas of 156 Countries; China & UK Not Included

    Restrictions on e-visas, including e-Business Visa, e-Medical Visa, e-Medical Attendant Visa, and e-Conference Visa have been lifted by the Ministry of Home Affairs. Due to the rise in the number of Covid-19 cases, the visas were all suspended last year in March.

    According to the Indian Government, people from 156 countries can now visit India for treatment, and conduct their business and conference. However, the restrictions have been lifted at a time when the number of Covid-19 cases are rising immensely.

    16 April 2021

  • India maxes out United States’ EB-5 visa limit

    India has maxed out the EB-5 visa to the United States for the U.S. fiscal year of 2018 (October to September).

    The EB-5 visa is an investor visa which allows applicants to invest in and start businesses in the United States. Each fiscal year, the U.S. Government allots 700 visas for each country.

    India has already reached retrogression (when the demand for a particular immigrant visa from a particular nation exceeds its availability) for this investor visa. In fact, India is the third country after Vietnam and Mainland China to reach this quota.

    The high demand for this visa came from Mumbai, Bangalore, and Hyderabad. A total of 10,000 EB-5 visas are issued every year with a cap of 700 being placed on each country.

    3 July 2019

  • Officials in the US Embassy hints at OPT rules being changed

    Joseph M Pomper, minister counselor for Consular Affairs, US Embassy, New Delhi has urged Indian students who are heading to the US for higher education to check about OPT rules with the universities. He said so because given that all employment-based visa programmes are currently under review there might be certain changes. It needs to be mentioned that OPT which stands for Optional Practical Training is a temporary employment visa that is directly related to F-1 student visas. As part of OPT, eligible students can apply to receive up to 12 months employment authorization before completing their courses or after completion of it. Under the current scenario, students who have earned their degrees in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) fields can avail 24 months OPT employment authorization.

    12 June 2018

  • India-US relationship is a partnership according to Navtej Sarna

    Navtej Sarna, the Indian ambassador to the US, defines the India-US ties as a partnership. Highly-skilled Indian professionals help make the US companies globally competitive. In April, 2017, Donald Trump, the US President signed an executive order to tighten the rules of the H-1B Visa programme as an initiative to stop visa abuse and protect American jobs. H-1B visa is the most sought after visa by Indian IT professionals. Many Indian corporates are investing money, personnel, and technology in the United States to make the American companies globally competitive. Therefore, the India-US relationship can certainly be termed as a partnership, especially given the thriving and huge democratic government that is India.

    15 June 2017

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