If you are planning a brief visit to the U.S., you might need a visitor visa. International travelers who are not citizens of countries participating in the U.S. Visa Waiver Program (VWP) will need a nonimmigrant visa to visit the U.S.
Nonimmigrant Visas for Business or Tourism Visits
The most common visitor visas are B-1 and B-2.
B-1 visa classification is for business travelers to consult with business associates, attend a conference, settle an estate, or negotiate a contract.
B-2 visa classification is for tourists on vacation and, people coming for medical treatment, a social event, or participation in amateur contests for no pay.
Learn more about B-1 and B-2 visas, including special information for citizens of Canada, China, Bermuda, and Mexico.
Transit C visa classification is for foreign nationals traveling through the U.S. to another country and stopping briefly in the U.S. as part of their travel to the next foreign destination.
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.
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.