Life in USA
Posted By Karthik

What are the Different Types of US Visas Available?


(Last Updated On: June 17, 2019)

You might be surprised to know that there are more than 20 main categories of non-immigrant visas for the United States. Each visa type is meant for a specific purpose of travel, which means that it is essential that you know about the various US visa types and the purpose of your visit to America before you apply for a visa.

Here’s a look at the most common types of US visa that you should know about.

Business or Tourist Visa

Two main sub-categories of visas are offered under this category. These are the B1 and B2 visa. The B1 visa is for trips focused on business-related activities, such as negotiation of contracts, settlement of estate, etc. The B2 visa is meant for leisure or holiday purposes, such as visiting family and friends, getting medical treatment in the US or for taking part in social service activities.

There also are times when the B1 and B2 visas are combined and issued as a single B1/B2 visa. While applying for this type of visa, you will need to prove to the consular authorities that your trip is for a specific period and you have the necessary funds to sustain yourself in the US. The B1 or B2 visa does not allow the holder to accept any type of employment during their stay in America.

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Work Visas

To work in the United States on a temporary basis, you will need to obtain a work visa. The type of work visa you need will depend on the nature of your work. Here are some of the work visas issued by the US:

H1-B Visa

In order to get an H1-B visa and work in a US-based company, you need to possess a Bachelor’s degree in a specific specialty. The USCIS will then evaluate whether your job comes under a specialty occupation and if you are qualified to work in that role. Your company will need to file a labor condition application with the Department of Labor and provide details of the terms and conditions of the employment contract.

H3 Visa

This visa is applicable if you are visiting the US to receive any type of training from your employer for a duration of up to 2 years.

H4 Visa

If you hold an H1-B or H3 visa, then your unmarried children under the age of 21 and your spouse can apply for H4 visas. This will allow them to accompany you to the US, but they are prohibited from working in the country.

Student Visa

Foreign nationals who visit the US to study need to be first get accepted by a specific program or school/university. After this, they will receive the documents needed to apply for the relevant student visa.

M1 Visa

This visa is applicable for students intending to visit the US for vocational or non-academic training.

F1 Visa

Students who wish to pursue academic studies in an approved English language program or in a US-approved school need this visa type. The F1 visa is also meant for students who wish to attend a US public secondary school up to a duration of 12 months.

You will lose your F1 or M1 visa status in case you leave the United States for a break in studies for a duration of 5 months or more. An exception to this rule is if the overseas activity is related to the course.


Having lived in 3+ countries, worked for companies small and big in USA, Middle East & India, I have a lot of stories to share about international travel, immigration and living as an NRI in the US. Add me on WhatsApp if you have any queries (+001-408-489-4785)