There are many ways to get a visa to America. If you are from a country participating in the Visa Waiver Program, you may not need a visa at all as you can often travel on the ESTA instead of a visitor visa.
However, if you cannot get an ESTA, or you are travelling for another purpose, make sure you have the correct visa. You can find a full list of all visa categories at the U.S. Department of State website.
Visitor & Tourism Visa To America
Visitor visas to America are nonimmigrant visas that include both the Business Visa B-1 and the Tourist Visa B-2. These are required for trips to the United States up to 180 days for either tourism or business purposes, and they are the most common type of visa.
You cannot seek employment on these visas, but you can receive medical treatment, take part in amateur sports events and join short study courses like language courses.
Transit or Crew Visa to America
If you are just passing through the country, you will require a transit visa. You will normally need a C-1 visa, but you may need a D visa as well if you are working on a cruise. You can get these together in the C-1/D visa. If you are from a country participating in the Visa Waiver Program, you do not need a transit visa to America, you can travel with an ESTA.
Study and Exchange Visa to America
These visas are required if you plan to study or take part in an exchange programme in the United States. Study visas consist of the F-1 and M-1 visas, and which one you get depends on your course and the type of institution you study at. The F-1 visa is required for high school, elementary and university, whereas the M-1 visa is required for vocational and non-academic institutions.
Your sponsoring organisation must accept you first before you can apply for the visa, and you will then be enrolled on the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS).
The exchange visa is the J-1 visa, and this is required by au pairs, interns and trainees among others.
Employment Visa to America
These are called Temporary Worker Visas, and you will need one if you plan to gain employment while in the USA. Your employer will need to file a Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker, Form I-129 before you can apply for your visa, and they may also require a labour certification, which you can get from the Department of Labour.
There are many different categories of employment visas, including: E-1, E-2, H-1B, H-1B1, H-2A, H-2B, H3, H-4, I, L, O, P1, P2, P3 and Q1.
There are many types of immigrant visas, and these are required if you want to travel to the USA to seek permanent residence. The type of visa you need will depend upon your situation. The main types of immigrant visas are: