Citizens of most countries need a visa to enter the United States. It´s the mechanism the USA uses to protect the country´s borders and their citizens, from potential threats that are very real. Visas are issued at consulates and embassies and allow the person to travel to the USA and request permission to enter the country. There are two fundamental types of visas: immigrant visas and nonimmigrant visas. Immigrant visas are for people who intend to live in the United States. Nonimmigrant visas are for persons with a permanent residence outside the United States but who wish to reside in the United States on a temporary basis.

The residence visa or “green card” is the document required by the individual intending to live permanently in the United States. For a foreign citizen to get a green card he or she must be solicited or sponsored by a United States citizen, legal resident, or prospective employer. The sponsor begins the immigration process by filing the petition on behalf of the foreign citizen with the US Citizenship and Immigration Service.

The categories that are most in demand are for reasons of family and employment. Nevertheless, there is the category of adoption, investment, and special immigrant. Due to these laws, a US citizen can file an immigrant visa petition for his or her spouse, children, parents and siblings. The visa holder acquires the status of permanent residence, which means he or she has the right to live and work in the USA. In addition, those who have a Green Card can leave US territory for vacations or for work reasons. However, the status may be lost if the length of the stay outside the United States is exceeded.


The following table has different reasons for immigration to the United States, and the visa category related to each purpose. This information is taken from the US Department of State:


Immediate Relative & Family Sponsored

Visa Category

Spouse of a U.S. Citizen 

IR1, CR1

Spouse of a U.S. Citizen awaiting approval of an I-130 immigrant petition

K-3 *

Fiancé(e) to marry U.S. Citizen & live in U.S.

K-1 *

Inter-country Adoption of Orphan Children by U.S. Citizens

IR3, IH3, IR4, IH4

Certain Family Members of U.S. Citizens

IR2, CR2, IR5, F1, F3, F4

Certain Family Members of Lawful Permanent Residents

F2A, F2B

Employer Sponsored – Employment  
Employment-Based Immigrants, including  (preference group):

  • Priority workers [First]
  • Professionals Holding Advanced Degrees and Persons of Exceptional Ability [Second]
  • Professionals and Other Workers [Third]
  • Employment Creation/Investors [Fifth]
  • Certain Special Immigrants: [Fourth]






E3, EW3



C5, T5, R5, I5


S (many**)

Religious Workers


Iraqi and Afghan Translators/Interpreters


Iraqis Who Worked for/on Behalf of the U.S. Government


Afghans Who Worked for/on Behalf of the U.S. Government


Other Immigrants


Diversity Immigrant Visa


Returning Resident


In Visa USA Now we specialize in tourist visa counseling or guidance. We publish these sort of articles because we know they´re also among our client´s range of interests. Also, the point we want to make is that there is a wide range of visa categories and that you must be certain which is the adequate one for you. For this, the purpose of your stay in the United States must be crystal clear. Visit our website and get all the relevant information, so your tourist visa application to the USA is a success. 

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