United States is one of the most sought after countries across the world. Every year lakhs of students and working professionals come here to make a living in search of the American Dream. The number of people coming in increases if we add the Visitors and tourists.
While over the past few years, its influence in the student and working professionals community is waning as people choose other countries such as Canada, Australia & Germany where there aren't too many complex visa issues, USA is still one of the top 3 destinations for people in India.
In this Guide, we cover major visas that Indians can use to come to the US.
There are about 185 types of US visas, grouped into two main categories:
Issued for temporary visits to the United States such as for tourism, business, employment, family visit, and studying.
Issued to people who will move permanently to the United States under immigrant investor schemes or family reunion.
Each visa has its own set of rules and documentation required and the process of getting one is relatively complex. For example, the H-1B visa has a yearly lottery and a cap of only 85,000 in a year. That visa is in the most demand especially amongst Indians.
Before we share all the visa types we want to ask you to be aware of Immigration scams that are rampant and that take advantage of innocent people who are trying to move to a new country.
Below are some of the main types of US visas:
In this Guide we'll cover mostly non-immigrant visa types.
The US visitor visas are issued to those who want to go to the United States to visit for a maximum of six months and are divided into:
B1 / B2 visas for business and tourists
F1 visa: visa for students.
F2 visa: dependents of F1 visa holders.
M1 visa: visa for vocational purposes.
Exchange Visitor Visas:
The exchange visitor visas are targeted to those who participate in exchange programs and some type of practical training and employment within the United States. These visas are divided into:
Temporary Work Visas:
This is the most famous category of visas and the ones that most Indians use to enter the United States. These visas are issued for temporary work in the United States.
H1B visa: For persons who have been employed in highly specialized fields.
H4 visa: Spouses & children (under the age of 21) of H1B visa holders.
L1 visa: Issued to intracompany managers or executives.
L2 visa: Spouses & children (under the age of 21) of H1B visa holders.
Both H4 and L2 are known as the dependent visas because these visa holders’ status is dependent on the visa status of the primary H1B or L1 visa holder.
The Fiancé Visa or K Visa:
The K visa is visa category created for people who intend to marry a United States citizen. The visa is given only for a period of 6 months. However, the applicant and the US citizen needs to get married within a period of 90 days and apply for a change of status.
Extraordinary Ability Visa:
People who have what is called an extraordinary ability in Arts, Science, Business, Education, or Athletics and want to temporarily work in their field of expertise need an O visa. There are three types of O visas:
O1 visa – for persons with extraordinary abilities.
O2 visa – for the assistants of O1 visa holders.
O3 visa – for dependents of O1 visa holders.
Temporary Religious Workers who want to practice within the US in religious capacities need to get the R1 visa type.
For representatives of foreign media and journalists part of the press, film, radio, or print industries, who are visiting the US to work or participate in educational media activities.
Visas for Victims of Crime and Human Trafficking
The following visas are part of this type of visa. You can apply for these visas only from inside the US.
are for victims of human trafficking who have severe trauma but can also assist in investigating crimes related to human trafficking.
The U visa:
is for those who have been a victim of certain criminal activities and that can aid in the investigation or prosecution of those criminals.
What is the Difference Between a Nonimmigrant Visa and an Immigrant Visa?
The main difference between nonimmigrant and immigrant visas is the length of time that the visa holder is allowed to stay in the US. Nonimmigrant visas are temporary, which means that they expire, and the visa holder must return to their home country immediately.
Immigrant visas are otherwise known as Green Cards, and they are permanent. Once the visa holder has an immigrant visa, they can move to the US and stay there as long as they want to without a deadline to return to their home country.
As we’d mentioned in the beginning of this Guide that there are almost 185 different types of US visas. However, there are plenty of such visas that are not applicable for people with Indian origin. Therefore, we’ve not included them in this Guide. However, below is a link that consists of all different US Vis a types – even the ones not covered here.
Very soon we'll be creating an Individual Guide for all these different Visa Types.