A: Issued to diplomats and employees of foreign governments who come to the U.S. to work at an embassy or consulate for their country. This includes a foreign ambassador, a consul and their staffs. The A visa also includes the family members of the diplomatic staff.
B: Used for foreign visitors to the U.S. for business (B-1) or pleasure (B-2).
C: Issued to people who travel through the U.S., including frequent travelers, flight attendants and cruise ship entertainers.
D: Used for crew members on airplanes and ships.
E: Used for people who operate a business in the U.S. that is involved in international trade between their native country and the U.S. (E-1). It also is used for those who have invested a substantial amount of money in a U.S. operation that the investor wants to directly manage in the U.S. This visa also allows essential employees of the same nationality as the trader or investor to travel to the U.S. to assist with the business. A treaty must be in place that allows for this type of visa between the U.S. and the country of nationality.
F: Issued to students of colleges, universities and recognized learning programs to study in the U.S.
G: Used for foreign government representatives to international organizations, their staffs and their family members. This classification allows foreign government or international organizational work in the U.S. For example, it would be the visa issued to representatives of the U.N. and their staff.
H: Issued to temporary workers who meet a special need in the American labor force.
I: Issued to members of the foreign press and other types of media.
J: Used for foreign-exchange programs, including foreign-exchange students who enroll in American schools.
K: Used for the fiance or fiancee of a U.S. citizen to come to the U.S. to get married and file for lawful permanent resident status. It also is used for the spouse of a U.S. citizen to come to the U.S. and complete processing of his or her application for lawful permanent residence. This category covers children of the sponsored spouse up to 21 years old.
L: Issued for intra-company transfers of employees, managers and executives to the U.S.-affiliated office of a multinational company.
M: Used for international students who will attend vocational school in the U.S.
N: Issued to children of those granted special immigrant status as international organization representatives.
O: Issued to individuals who have extraordinary ability in their field (e.g., professional athletes, movie stars, Nobel Prize winners).
P: Used for performing artists who are coming to the U.S. on a specific schedule of performances, as well as their support staff.
Q: Used for participants in an international cultural-awareness program designed to share the history, culture and traditions of their native country. Traditional dance and music troupes generally apply for this visa.
R: Used for religious work to be performed in the U.S.
S: Colloquially referred to as the “snitch” visa, it may be issued to someone who agrees to become an informant for the U.S. government or law enforcement.
T: Issued to victims of human trafficking in the U.S. to allow them to remain in the country even though they may have entered the country illegally.
U: Used for victims of abuse as a result of criminal activity — including sexual assault, rape, torture and slavery — who have or are willing to assist the government in the prosecution of these crimes.
V: Issued to the spouse and minor children of lawful permanent residents who had a petition for permanent residence filed for them before Dec. 21, 1998.
Last update: Sept. 25, 2008
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