There are two types of visas administered by American Consulates: immigrant and nonimmigrant visas.
Permanent Residence – Immigrant Visas
To be eligible for immigration visas, the applicant must have one of the following:
- Being the spouse or child of a US citizen;
- Being a parent, adult child or sibling of a US citizen;
- Being the spouse or child of a permanent resident;
- Have a work permit sponsored and approved by a firm or institution in the USA;
- Having an unusual or extraordinary talent or skill;
- Being a refugee or an asylum seeker fleeing persecution; or
- Winning the Green Card lottery.
Temporary Entries – Nonimmigrant Visas
Applications for temporary US visas are generally B-2, E-1 and E-2, F-1, H-1B, J-1, K-1, L-1 etc. Applications are accepted by letter. Applicants for this temporary category of visas must convince the US Consular officers that they will enter the United States for a short period of time and for a specific purpose. All nonimmigrant visa applicants other than categories H-1 and L-1 must prove that they will not be permanent in the United States.
Personal appointments are usually made for nonimmigrant US visa types.
All foreign visitors from 27 countries such as Australia, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, New Zealand and Switzerland do not need to obtain a visa from a US consulate in their country. Their stay in the country is limited to 3 months, and they do not have a chance to change their status or extend their process unless they marry a US citizen.