Entering the U.S. through employment can be divided into two categories: non-immigrant and immigrant. A non-immigrant employment-based visa will allow a person to work in the U.S., usually for a limited period of time. An immigrant employment-based visa will allow a person to live and work in the U.S. permanently through acquisition of Permanent Resident Status, or green card. The categories are as follows:
- B-1 Business Visitor Visas
- B-2 Visitor’s Visas
- E-1 – Treaty Trader Visas
- E-2 – Treaty Investor Visas
- F-1 Student Visas
- H-1B – Specialty Occupation (Professional) Visas
- H-2A – Seasonal Agricultural Visas
- J-1 – Exchange Visitor Visas
- K-1 Fiance(e) Visas – See Family-Based Visas
- L-1A – Intracompany Transferee Visas for Managerial Positions
- L-1B – Intracompany Transferee Visas for Specialized Knowledge Positions
- M-1 Student Visas for Vocational or Non-Academic Institutions
- O-1 – Extraordinary Ability Visas
- P-1 – Athletes, Artists, and Group Entertainer Visas
- R-1 – Religious Worker Visas
- TN – North American Free Trade Agreement Visas
- EB-1A – Foreign Nationals of Extraordinary Ability
- EB-1B – Outstanding Professors and Researchers
- EB-1C – Multinational Executives and Managers
- EB-2 – Workers with Advanced Degrees or Exceptional Ability in the Sciences, Arts, or Business
- EB-3 – Skilled Workers, Professionals, and Other Workers
- EB-4 – Special Immigrant Visas for Religious Workers
- EB-5 – Investor/Employment Creation Visas
- National Interest Waiver (NIW)
- DV-1 – Diversity Lottery
Most people obtain Green Cards (permanent residency) through family members. Two groups of family based immigrant visa categories are immediate relatives and family preference categories.
Immediate Relative Immigrant Visas
These visa types are based on a close family relationship with a United States citizen described as an Immediate Relative (IR). The number of immigrants in these categories is not limited each fiscal year. Immediate relative visa types include:
- IR-1: Spouse of a U.S. citizen
- IR-2: Unmarried child under 21 years of age of a U.S. citizen
- IR-3: Orphan adopted abroad by a U.S. citizen
- IR-4: Orphan to be adopted in the U.S. by a U.S. citizen
- IR-5: Parent of a U.S. citizen who is at least 21 years old
Family Preference Immigrant Visas
These visa types are for specific, more distant, family relationships with a U.S. citizen and some specified relationships with a Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR). There are fiscal year numerical limitations on family preference immigrants so normally there is a wait for visa number to become available. Family preference categories include
- Family First Preference (F1): Unmarried sons and daughters of U.S. citizens, and their minor children, if any.
- Family Second Preference (F2): Spouses, minor children, and unmarried sons and daughters (age 21 and over) of LPRs. At least seventy-seven percent of all visas available for this category will go to the spouses and children; the remainder is allocated to unmarried sons and daughters.
- Family Third Preference (F3): Married sons and daughters of U.S. citizens, and their spouses and minor children.
- Family Fourth Preference (F4): Brothers and sisters of U.S. citizens, and their spouses and minor children, provided the U.S. citizens are at least 21 years of age.
Please note: Grandparents, aunts, uncles, in-laws, and cousins cannot sponsor a relative for immigration.
- VAWA: Battered spouse or child of U.S. citizen or Green Card holder.
- K-1 Nonimmigrant (Fiance): Nonimmigrant visa leading to a Green Card after marriage to a U.S. citizen.
- K-3 Nonimmigrant: Nonimmigrant visa for spouse of U.S. citizen who has an I-130 on file with USCIS.