Home Advice What are the U.S. Visa Categories?

What are the U.S. Visa Categories?

U.S. Visa Categories

Obtaining a visa for in the United States can be a daunting task. There are approximately 185 different kinds of work visas, and if you fill out the wrong one you may end up spending a lot of time and money correcting your mistake, or you may not get a visa at all. Obtaining a visa can go smoothly, if you understand the categories of visas and pay close attention to the instructions for filling them out.

visa approved

Non-Immigration Visa Categories

America is known as the land of opportunity, and its many industries and institutions of higher learning draw people from all over the world to its shores. As appealing a place as America is, not everyone wants to stay permanently. Many people come to the states to glean the knowledge they will need to improve conditions in their own country and in their own lives. There are several visas designed specifically for people who want to live and work here without making a permanent commitment.

Athletic competitors

A P-1A Visa is granted to internationally known athletes. An individual can obtain this type of visa if they are coming to the country for the purpose of competing in an athletic competition like the Olympics. The Visa is also used by members of internationally recognized athletic teams.


There are quite a few different kinds of workers visas offered by the US Department of State. There is a different kind of visa for a nanny traveling with a foreign national worker (B-1) than there is for a nanny who works for an American family (J). There is a different visa for diplomats of foreign countries (A) than there is for a Employee of a designated international organization (G1-5). There is a different visa for a temporary agricultural worker  (H-2A) than there is for a seasonal worker in a non-agricultural business (H-2B).


Members of the foreign military may be admitted to the United States via a NATO visa. A member of the military may not need a visa at all if they are traveling on official NATO business. This is subject to change in the event of the United States pulling out of NATO.


Student visas are issued after a person has been accepted by a university. The university will provide the application needed to obtain a student visa. Visas issued to students studying at traditional colleges are different than those for students studying at trade colleges.

Immigration Visa Categories  

If you want to move to the U.S. permanently, you will find that there are several different types of temporary visas issued for the purpose of immigration.

Family Sponsored

There are two types of family visas. The first one is an immediate family visa, which allows family members of American citizens to live and work in the states. The other is a Family Preference Immigrant Visa, which is given to adult children and spouses of citizens.  

Employer Sponsored

An H1 B visa is used by businesses when they want to secure citizenship for a professional worker. This kind of visa is not easy to get as the company must file an appeal to the labor board before doing anything else. The employee in question must have a Bachelor’s Degree or higher.

Immigration Attorneys

If all of this seems a bit overwhelming, remember that you don’t have to do it alone. A good immigration lawyer can help take the work and stress out of becoming an American.

Authoritative Sources:




Image credits