Directory of Visa Categories
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. When you apply at a U.S embassy or consulate, a consular officer will determine based on laws, whether you are eligible to receive a visa, and if so, which visa category is appropriate.
The chart below contains many different purposes of temporary travel and the related nonimmigrant visa categories available on this website. Select a visa category below to learn more:
Purpose of Travel
Required: Before applying for visa*
Athlete, amateur or professional (competing for prize money only)
Au pair (exchange visitor)
Australian professional specialty
Border Crossing Card: Mexico
Diplomat or foreign government official
Domestic employee or nanny - must be accompanying a foreign national employer
Employee of a designated international organization or NATO
Foreign military personnel stationed in the United States
Foreign national with extraordinary ability in Sciences, Arts, Education, Business or Athletics
Free Trade Agreement (FTA) Professional: Chile, Singapore
International cultural exchange visitor
Medical treatment, visitor for
NAFTA professional worker: Mexico, Canada
Performing athlete, artist, entertainer
Professor, scholar, teacher (exchange visitor)
Specialty occupations in fields requiring highly specialized knowledge
DOL then USCIS
Student: academic, vocational
Temporary agricultural worker
DOL then USCIS
Temporary worker performing other services or labor of a temporary or seasonal nature.
DOL then USCIS
Tourism, vacation, pleasure visitor
Training in a program not primarily for employment
Treaty trader/treaty investor
Transiting the United States
Victim of Criminal Activity
Victim of Human Trafficking
Nonimmigrant (V) Visa for Spouse and Children of a Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR) V (NA)
*What the abbreviations above mean - Before applying for a visa at a U.S. embassy or consulate, the following is required:
- DOL = The U.S. employer must obtain foreign labor certification from the U.S. Department of Labor, prior to filing a petition with USCIS.
- USCIS = U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) approval of a petition or application (The required petition or application depends on the visa category you plan to apply for.)
- SEVIS = Program approval entered in the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS)
- (NA) = Not Applicable - Additional approval by another U.S. government agency is not required prior to applying for a visa
- About this chart – It is not a complete list of all travel purposes for the visa category. Select a visa category webpage for more information. The chart lists almost all nonimmigrant visa categories, with the exception of several not listed above. Refer to the Foreign Affairs Manual, 9 FAM 41.12 for all nonimmigrant visa categories.
- Canadian NAFTA Professional workers – A visa not required; apply to U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) at border port of entry.
- K nonimmigrant visas – For U.S. citizen fiancé(e) and spouse for immigration related purposes. Refer to Immigrant Visa Categories.
The chart below contains different purposes for immigrating to the United States, and the related immigrant visa categories for which information is available on this website. Select a visa category below to learn more:
Immediate Relative & Family Sponsored
Spouse of a U.S. Citizen
Spouse of a U.S. Citizen awaiting approval of an I-130 immigrant petition
Fiancé(e) to marry U.S. Citizen & live in U.S.
Intercountry Adoption of Orphan Children by U.S. Citizens
Certain Family Members of U.S. Citizens
Certain Family Members of Lawful Permanent Residents
Employer Sponsored – Employment
Employment-Based Immigrants, including (preference group):
- Priority workers [First]
- Professionals Holding Advanced Degrees and Persons of Exceptional Ability [Second]
- Professionals and Other Workers [Third]
- Employment Creation/Investors [Fifth]
- Certain Special Immigrants: [Fourth]
C5, T5, R5, I5
Iraqi and Afghan Translators/Interpreters
Iraqis Who Worked for/on Behalf of the U.S. Government
Afghans Who Worked for/on Behalf of the U.S. Government
Diversity Immigrant Visa
*K Visas – Listed with immigrant visas because they are for immigration related purposes.
About this chart - This chart is a list of many immigrant visa categories, but not every immigrant visa category.
**Refer to the Foreign Affairs Manual, 9 FAM 42.11 for a listing of all immigrant visa categories.