In order to step in the United States of America, any foreign citizens or any person who does not have the nationality of an American must obtain a visa to prove their intentions of visiting. With a visa, you are allowed to enter the country, remain within, or leave the country. In U.S., there are 5 different types of visa to demonstrate your purpose of visit and time span you are allowed to stay. American visas are issued by the state department which includes foreign U.S. embassies and consulates in your home country. If no U.S. embassy is located in your country, you have to look for the closest one to you even if it is in your neighboring country. You may click here to do so.
The most common types of visa are:
1. Student Visa: F-1 and M-1 Visa
This visa is needed for any individuals who wish to study any degree program in the U.S. You are required to be accepted by the schools or institutions you applied for. Then you will receive necessary approval documents to submit while applying for the student visa. One of which is Form I-20 and it is to indicate that you have 120 days before the date on the form to apply for a visa. You have the intervals of 30 days before the date on the form to board a plane to the U.S. Arriving before that is strictly not recommended.
- F-1 Visa
This visa allows students to engage in academic studies in U.S. approved schools or in approved English language programs. It is a must-have type of visa if your course is longer than 18 hours a week.
- M-1 Visa
This visa is offered to individuals who plan to engage in non-academic, vocational training in the U.S.
Please note that students who leave U.S for 5 months or more may lose their F-1 or M-1 visa unless their activities relate to their study courses.
2. Exchange Visitor Visa: J Visa
If you are participating in any exchange programs in U.S., you are required to have J visa. Participants can be students at any academic levels, teachers, professors, research scholars, professional trainees, and visitors coming for consultations or research purposes. You are required to be accepted and approved by the authorised program sponsor in order to be granted the visa. J Visa is designed to promote interchange of knowledge and skills in various fields.
3. Tourist or Business Visa: B-1 and B-2 Visa
- B-1 Visa
This Visa is for business associates, those who attend scientific, educational, business conventions; also for those who settle an estate or negotiate business contracts.
- B-2 Visa
This Visa is for individuals who wish to fly to America for pleasure or for medical treatment. This includes tourism, visiting friends and family, social or service activities.
4. Work Visa
If you wish to work in the U.S. temporarily, you have to request for a specific visa according to the type of work you will be doing and time span you will stay in the country. Your Form I-129 must be approved in order to apply for the visa. Then your employer will receive Form I-797 that serves as your petition approval notification. While doing interview in the embassy, you must bring both form. There are:
- H1-B Visa for Speciality occupation
- H2-A Visa for Seasonal agricultural workers
- H2-B Visa for skilled and unskilled workers
- H-3 Visa for trainees
- H-4 Visa for dependents
- L-1 Visa for intra company transferees
- L-2 Visa for dependents
- O Visa
- P Visa
- Q Visa
5. Media and Journalist Visa
This type of visa is offered to individuals who represent a foreign media to travel to U.S. with the intention of fulfilling their professions. It can be attending a conference or meeting, guest lecture, engaging in academic activities, purchasing media equipment, vacation, filming material for commercial entertainment, working on staged events, televisions or quiz shows.
Decide carefully of which type of visa best indicates your intention of visiting the U.S. It is important to do so in exchange for the time and effort to go to the interviews over and over again. Please be reminded that you also have to show legal documents of your financial statement in order to demonstrate whether or not you can afford to stay in the country.