Learn how to apply for different types of nonimmigrant visas for tourists, students, business travelers and future spouses. Also, find information about the Visa Waiver Program, and how to get a job in the United States as a foreign worker.
Waiver Program for Tourists and Business Travelers
International travelers for business or pleasure who are citizens of one of the 38 countries that participate in the U.S.’s Visa Waiver Program (VWP) can get a visa waiver. While you do not need a visa to come to the U.S. for your business meeting or for vacation, you must get an approved travel authorization prior to your trip to the U.S.
How to Apply and Get Approval to Travel to the U.S.
An international student can apply for a student or exchange visitor visa only after being accepted by a school certified in the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP). Students’ records are kept in the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS). Learn more about SEVP and SEVIS, and about the SEVIS fee.
Types of Educational Visas
Your course of study, the school you plan to attend, or the exchange program you will be with will determine the type of student visa you will need.
The most common student visas are F-1 and M-1 visas.
F-1 visa classification is for a full-time international student pursuing academic studies.
M-1 visa classification is for a full-time international student pursuing vocational studies.
J-1 visa classification is also known as the exchange visitor program (EVP) and is for foreign nationals approved to take part in work or study-based exchange programs. Examples include visiting scholar, camp counselor, or research assistant.
North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) Professional Visa
Only citizens of Canada and Mexico are eligible for a nonimmigrant North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) Professional visa to work in the U.S. The NAFTA Professional visa classification is TN and grants the holder temporary entry into the U.S. to work in business activities at a professional level for an initial period of up to three years.
How to Apply
After getting a letter from your future employer confirming your offer of a position, the application processes varies for Canadian and Mexican citizens.
Canadian Citizens: a NAFTA Professional (TN) visa is usually not required. You can go directly to a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) port of entry, with your documentation for an interview to be admitted to the U.S. as a nonimmigrant who can legally work in the U.S.
Mexican Citizens: a NAFTA Professional (TN) visa is required. Complete the online visa application form DS-160, print out the confirmation page, and bring it to your interview. If you are applying in Mexico, a photo is not required for your application.
Based on your skills, circumstances, and the job that you intend to do, you may be able to come to the U.S. as a temporary or permanent foreign worker or as a temporary visitor for business. Under certain circumstances, you may also be able to work in the U.S. if you’re a foreign student or an exchange visitor.
As a foreign worker, you will need a visa to be employed in the U.S. Each type of visa has unique requirements, conditions, and time limits.
Visit the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service’s (USCIS) Working in the U.S. website for an overview of each worker category and type of visa.
As a temporary foreign worker in the U.S., you will not be denied a visa or be punished by the U.S. government because you have exercised your rights under U.S. laws. Learn your rights and protections.
If you violate the terms of your work visa, it could be revoked and you could be removed from the U.S. (deported), arrested, or denied reentry into the U.S.
If you suspect you or someone you know is being brought to the U.S. for the purpose of human trafficking, get help now.
If you’re a citizen of another country engaged to be married to a U.S. citizen, and you plan to marry and live in the United States, your fiancé(e) can petition for a K-1 visa for you. The K-1 visa allows you to travel to the United States to marry your fiancé(e) within 90 days of arriving. After you marry, you may apply for an adjustment of status to permanent resident and receive a Permanent Resident (Green) Card.
The K-1 visa expires after 90 days and cannot be extended. If you don’t marry within that time, you must leave the country immediately or face possible deportation.