What is the difference between an immigrant and non-Immigrant visa?
An immigrant visa is the visa issued to persons wishing to live permanently in the U.S.
A non-immigrant visa is the visa issued to persons with a permanent residence outside the U.S. but who wishes to be in the U.S. on a temporary basis (i.e. Tourism, medical treatment, business, temporary work, or study.
The chart below contains many different purposes of temporary travel and the related non-immigrant visa categories available on this website. Select a visa category below to learn more:
|Purpose of Travel||Visa Category||Required: Before applying for visa*|
|Athlete, amateur or professional (competing for prize money only)||B-1||(NA)|
|Au pair (exchange visitor)||J||SEVIS|
|Australian professional specialty||E-3||DOL|
|Border Crossing Card: Mexico||BCC||(NA)|
|CNMI-only transitional worker||CW-1||(USCIS)|
|Diplomat or foreign government official||A||(NA)|
|Domestic employee or nanny – must be accompanying a foreign national employer||B-1||(NA)|
|Employee of a designated international organization or NATO||G1-G5, NATO||(NA)|
|Foreign military personnel stationed in the United States||A-2
|Foreign national with extraordinary ability in Sciences, Arts, Education, Business or Athletics||O||USCIS|
|Free Trade Agreement (FTA) Professional: Chile, Singapore||H-1B1 – Chile
H-1B1 – Singapore
|International cultural exchange visitor||Q||USCIS|
|Medical treatment, visitor for||B-2||(NA)|
|NAFTA professional worker: Mexico, Canada||TN/TD||(NA)|
|Performing athlete, artist, entertainer||P||USCIS|
|Physician||J , H-1B||SEVIS|
|Professor, scholar, teacher (exchange visitor)||J||SEVIS|
|Specialty occupations in fields requiring highly specialized knowledge||H-1B||DOL then USCIS|
|Student: academic, vocational||F, M||SEVIS|
|Temporary agricultural worker|
|Temporary worker performing other services or labor of a temporary or seasonal nature.||H-2B||DOL then USCIS|
|Tourism, vacation, pleasure visitor||B-2||(NA)|
|Training in a program not primarily for employment||H-3||USCIS|
|Treaty trader/treaty investor||E||(NA)|
|Transiting the United States||C||(NA)|
|Victim of Criminal Activity||U||USCIS|
|Victim of Human Trafficking||T||USCIS|
|Non-immigrant (V) Visa for Spouse and Children of a Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR)||V||(NA)|
|Renewals in the U.S. – A, G, and NATO Visas||(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 non-immigrant visa categories, with the exception of several not listed above. Refer to the Foreign Affairs Manual, 9 FAM 41.12 for all non-immigrant 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 non-immigrant visas – For U.S. citizen fiancé(e) and spouse for immigration related purposes.