Directory of Visa Categories and Eligibility

The purpose of your intended travel and other facts will determine what type of visa is required under U.S. immigration law. As a visa applicant, you will need to establish that you meet all requirements to receive the category of visa for which you are applying. When you apply at a U.S embassy or consulate, a consular officer will determine based on laws, whether you are eligible to receive a visa, and if so, which visa category is appropriate.

Visa Categories

Nonimmigrant Visa Categories

The chart below contains many different purposes of temporary travel and the related nonimmigrant visa categories available on this website. When you change from one visa status to another one, file I-539 to USCIS for change of status.

Select a visa category below to learn more:

Purpose of Travel Visa Category Required: Before applying for visa*
Athlete, amateur or professional (competing for prize money only) B-1 (NA)
Au pair (exchange visitor) J SEVIS
Australian professional specialty E-3 DOL
Border Crossing Card: Mexico BCC (NA)
Business visitor B-1 (NA)
CNMI-only transitional worker CW-1 (USCIS)
Crewmember D (NA)
Diplomat or foreign government official A (NA)
Domestic employee or nanny - must be accompanying a foreign national employer B-1 (NA)
Employee of a designated international organization or NATO G1-G5
NATO
(NA)
Exchange visitor J SEVIS
Foreign military personnel stationed in the United States A-2
NATO1-6
(NA)
Foreign national with extraordinary ability in Sciences, Arts, Education, Business or Athletics O USCIS
Free Trade Agreement (FTA) Professional:
Chile, Singapore
H-1B1 - Chile
H-1B1 - Singapore
DOL
International cultural exchange visitor Q USCIS
Intra-company transferee L USCIS
Medical treatment, visitor for B-2 (NA)
Media, journalist I (NA)
NAFTA professional worker: Mexico, Canada TN/TD (NA)
Performing athlete, artist, entertainer P USCIS
Physician J, H-1B SEVIS
Professor, scholar, teacher (exchange visitor) J SEVIS
Religious worker R USCIS
Specialty occupations in fields requiring highly specialized knowledge H-1B DOL then USCIS
Student: academic, vocational F, M SEVIS
Temporary agricultural worker H-2A DOL then USCIS
Temporary worker performing other services or labor of a temporary or seasonal nature. H-2B DOL then USCIS
Tourism, vacation, pleasure visitor B-2 (NA)
Training in a program not primarily for employment H-3 USCIS
Treaty trader/treaty investor E (NA)
Transiting the United States C (NA)
Victim of Criminal Activity U USCIS
Victim of Human Trafficking T USCIS
Nonimmigrant (V) Visa for Spouse and Children of a Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR) V (NA)
Renewals in the U.S. - A, G, and NATO Visas (NA)

*What the abbreviations above mean - Before applying for a visa at a U.S. embassy or consulate, the following is required:

  • DOL = The U.S. employer must obtain foreign labor certification from the U.S. Department of Labor, prior to filing a petition with USCIS.
  • USCIS = U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) approval of a petition or application (The required petition or application depends on the visa category you plan to apply for.)
  • SEVIS = Program approval entered in the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS)
  • (NA) = Not Applicable - Additional approval by another U.S. government agency is not required prior to applying for a visa

Important Notes:

  • About this chart – It is not a complete list of all travel purposes for the visa category. Select a visa category webpage for more information. The chart lists almost all nonimmigrant visa categories, with the exception of several not listed above. Refer to the Foreign Affairs Manual, 9 FAM 402.1 for all nonimmigrant visa categories.
  • Canadian NAFTA Professional workers – A visa not required; apply to U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) at border port of entry.
  • K nonimmigrant visas – For U.S. citizen fiancé(e) and spouse for immigration related purposes. Refer to Immigrant Visa Categories.

Immigrant Visa Categories

Immediate Relative & Family Sponsored Visa Category
I-130 Petition 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 *
Intercountry 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 Visa Category
I-140/I-526 Petition 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]
E1
E2
E3, EW3
C5, T5, R5, I5
S (many**)
Religious Workers SD, SR
I-140/I-526 Petition Iraqi and Afghan Translators/Interpreters SI
Iraqis Who Worked for/on Behalf of the U.S. Government SQ
Afghans Who Worked for/on Behalf of the U.S. Government SQ
Other Immigrants Visa Category
Diversity Immigrant Visa DV
Returning Resident SB

For Eligibility, please compare your background to the chart below:

Green Card (Immigrant Visa) Eligibility Categories

In order to apply for a Green Card, you must be eligible under one of the categories listed below. Once you find the category that may fit your situation, click on the link provided to get information on eligibility requirements, how to apply, and whether your family members can also apply with you.

Green Card through Family

You may be eligible to apply as a… If you are the…
Immediate relative of a U.S. citizen
  • Spouse of a U.S. citizen
  • Unmarried child under the age of 21 of a U.S. citizen
  • Parent of a U.S. citizen who is at least 21 years old
Other relative of a U.S. citizen or relative of a lawful permanent resident under the family-based preference categories
  • Family member of a U.S. citizen, meaning you are the:
    • Unmarried son or daughter of a U.S. citizen and you are 21 years old or older
    • Married son or daughter of a U.S. citizen
    • Brother or sister of a U.S. citizen who is at least 21 years old
  • Family member of a lawful permanent resident, meaning you are the:
    • Spouse of a lawful permanent resident
    • Unmarried child under the age of 21 of a lawful permanent resident
    • Unmarried son or daughter of a lawful permanent resident 21 years old or older
Fiancé(e) of a U.S. citizen or the fiancé(e)’s child
  • Person admitted to the U.S. as a fiancé(e) of a U.S. citizen (K-1 nonimmigrant)
  • Person admitted to the U.S. as the child of a fiancé(e) of a U.S. citizen (K-2 nonimmigrant)
Widow(er) of a U.S. citizen Widow or widower of a U.S. citizen and you were married to your U.S. citizen spouse at the time your spouse died
VAWA self-petitioner– victim of battery or extreme cruelty
  • Abused spouse of a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident
  • Abused child (unmarried and under 21 years old) of a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident
  • Abused parent of a U.S. citizen

Green Card through Employment

You may be eligible to apply as a… If you…
Immigrant worker
  • Are a first preference immigrant worker, meaning you:
    • Have extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business or athletics, or
    • Are an outstanding professor or researcher, or
    • Are a multinational manager or executive who meets certain criteria
  • Are a second preference immigrant worker, meaning you:
    • Are a member of a profession that requires an advanced degree, or
    • Have exceptional ability in the sciences, arts, or business, or
    • Are seeking a national interest waiver (NIW)
  • Are a third preference immigrant worker, meaning you are:
    • A skilled worker (meaning your job requires a minimum of 2 years training or work experience), or
    • A professional (meaning your job requires at least a U.S. bachelor's degree or a foreign equivalent and you are a member of the profession), or
    • An unskilled worker (meaning you will perform unskilled labor requiring less than 2 years training or experience)
Physician National Interest Waiver Are a physician who agrees to work full-time in clinical practice in a designated underserved area for a set period of time and also meets other eligibility requirements
Immigrant investor Have invested or are actively in the process of investing at least $1 million (or $500,000 in a targeted employment area) in a new commercial enterprise in the U.S. which will create full-time positions for at least 10 qualifying employees
*The policy may have changed. Check USCIS for the latest requirements.

Green Card as a Special Immigrant

You may be eligible to apply as a… If you…
Religious worker Are a member of a religious denomination coming to the U.S. to work for a nonprofit religious organization
Special Immigrant Juvenile Are a child who has been abused, abandoned, or neglected by your parent and you have SIJ status
Afghanistan or Iraq national
International broadcaster Are coming to work in the U.S. as a member of the media
Employee of an international organization or family member or NATO-6employee or family member Are a retired officer or employee of certain international organizations, or NATO, and certain family members

Green Card through Refugee or Asylee Status

You may be eligible to apply as a… If you…
Asylee Were granted asylum status at least 1 year ago
Refugee Were admitted as a refugee at least 1 year ago

Green Card for Human Trafficking and Crime Victims

You may be eligible to apply as a… If you…
Human trafficking victim Currently have a T nonimmigrant visa
Crime victim Currently have a U nonimmigrant visa

Green Card for Victims of Abuse

You may be eligible to apply as a… If you…
VAWA self-petitioner– victim of battery orextreme cruelty
  • The abused spouse of a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident
  • The abused child (unmarried and under 21 years old) of a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident
  • The abused parent of a U.S. citizen
Special Immigrant Juvenile Are a child who has been abused, abandoned, or neglected by your parent and you have SIJ status
An abused (victim of battery or extreme cruelty) spouse or child under the Cuban Adjustment Act The abused spouse or child of a Cuban native or citizen
An abused (victim of battery or extreme cruelty) spouse or child under Haitian Refugee Immigrant Fairness Act (HRIFA) The abused spouse or child of a lawful permanent resident who received his or her Green Card based on HRIFA

Green Card through Other Categories

You may be eligible to apply under this category… If you…
Liberian Refugee Immigration Fairness (LRIF) Are a Liberian national who has been continuously physically present in the United States since Nov. 20, 2014, or
Are the spouse, child under age 21, or unmarried son or daughter over the age of 21 of a qualifying Liberian national.
Diversity Immigrant Visa Program Were selected for a diversity visa in the Department of State’s diversity visa lottery
Cuban Adjustment Act
  • Are a Cuban native or citizen, or
  • Are the spouse or child of a Cuban native or citizen
An abused (victim of battery or extreme cruelty) spouse or child under the Cuban Adjustment Act Are the abused spouse or child of a Cuban native or citizen
Dependent status under the HRIFA Are the spouse or child of a lawful permanent resident who received his or her Green Card based on the Haitian Refugee Immigration Fairness Act (HRIFA)
An abused (victim of battery or extreme cruelty) spouse or child under HRIFA Are the abused spouse or child of a lawful permanent resident who received his or her Green Card based on HRIFA
Lautenberg parolee Were paroled into the U.S. as a Lautenberg parolee
Indochinese Parole Adjustment Act of 2000 Are a native or citizen of Vietnam, Kampuchea (Cambodia), or Laos who was paroled into the U.S. on or before Oct. 1, 1997 from Vietnam under the Orderly Departure Program, a refugee camp in East Asia, or a displaced person camp administered by UNHCR in Thailand.
American Indian born in Canada Were born in Canada, possess at least 50% American Indian blood, and maintain your principal residence in the United States.
Person born in the United States to a foreign diplomat Were born in the United States to a foreign diplomatic officer who was stationed in the U.S. when you were born.
Section 13 (diplomat) Were stationed in the United States as a foreign diplomat or high ranking official and are unable to return home

The chart below contains different purposes for immigrating to the United States, and the related immigrant visa categories for which information is available on this website. Select a visa category below to learn more.

Important Notes:

  • *K Visas – Listed with immigrant visas because they are for immigration related purposes.
  • About this chart - This chart is a list of many immigrant visa categories, but not every immigrant visa category.
  • **Refer to the Foreign Affairs Manual, 9 FAM 502.1 for a listing of all immigrant visa categories.

Sources:

https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/us-visas/visa-information-resources/all-visa-categories.html