Mini Series: U.S. Visa, Part 1: General Information about the U.S. Visa




Today I want to talk about the U.S. Visa.

It can be very intimidating and a bit confusing if you start looking into the Visa process. I know that feeling. There are so many thinks you have to think about, not to mention all the documents you have to obtain. All in all, the Visa process is/can be nerve-wracking.

Today's post is about the why's, when's and how's.

There are many reasons why you want to come to the U.S.A

  • you want to work and live here
  • you want to study here and learn more about the culture
  • you are engaged or married
  • you have a Business here
  • vacation

etc. etc. etc. As you can see. There are probably a million reason why you want to come to the U.S.
No matter what your reason is, before you can even think about hopping on a plane, you have to apply for a Visa. But what kind of Visa do you need? Well, simply put, it all depends on how long you want to stay and the reason.

There are 2 main categories and a lot of subcategories.


Nonimmigrant Visa 
Immigrant Visa



Let's start with the           Nonimmigrant Visa

 The nonimmigrant Visa has about 35 subcategories. The most commonly known are probably

  • J-Visa (Au-pairs, exchange Visitors)  SEVIS
  • B1-Visa (Business Visitors)                (NA)
  • B2-Visa (Tourism, vacation)               (NA)

Other Visa in this category include a Visa for Crew Members (D) (NA) and for Foreign military personnel stationed in the U.S. (A-2, NATO1-6) (NA).

If you are wondering what the red letters in the brackets mean: before you can apply for a Visa you need to send a petition or application to either:

  • DOL: a U.S. Employer must obtain a foreign labor certification from the Department of Labor, prior to filing with
  • USCIS: U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. USCIS needs to approve your petition or application.
  • SEVIS: Program approval entered in the Student and Exchange Visitior Information System.
  • NA: Not Applicable. You don't need additional approval by a U.S. government agency prior to applying for a Visa.





Immigrant Visa

There are 13 subcategories in the Immigrant Visa category.

The most commonly known Visa are:

IR-1 and CR-1: Spouse of a U.S. Citizen
K-1: Fiancé(e) of a U.S. Citizen (just to marry)
IR-2 and CR-2: certain family members of a U.S. citizen

Other examples in this category are the employer-sponsored Visa and the Diversity Visa, also known as the Green Card Lottery.

You should be aware that the whole Visa process, from filing a petition to getting the Visa can take up to a year, sometimes even longer.

There is another category which I want to introduce to you.

The ESTA - Electronic System for Travel Authorization

If you live in one of these VISA WAIVER PROGRAM (VWP) countries and are a citizen of one of these, then you can apply for the ESTA.

There are certain restrictions for this category as well:

if you have a regular visitor's Visa, you can not apply for ESTA
your stay is 90 days or less
this Visa is for business and travel only

All you need is a valid passport, a credit card or Paypal and your contact information.

If you plan to visit the U.S. I highly recommend you visit this website: travel.state.gov.


The next post is going to be about the K-1 Visa (fiancé(e) ).

I hope you found this post helpful and if you have any further question, message me :)