Understanding Immigration Visa Categories and Options

Understanding Immigration Visa Categories and Options


Immigrants seeking to enter the United States are generally required to obtain a visa from the Department of State. This documentation allows the individual to cross into the United States by air, sea, or land. While it does not guarantee admission into the country, it does demonstrate your eligibility to legally request entry. Visas generally fall under two broad categories. Nonimmigrant visas are given to people traveling into the country on a temporary basis. Immigrant visas are issued for individuals seeking to permanently relocate into the United States.

Nonimmigrant Visa Categories

There are a variety of nonimmigrant visas issued to individuals traveling into the United States. Business-related purposes fall under the B-1 Visa. Some activities included in this category are:

  • Business consultations

  • Attending a business or educational conference

  • Contract negotiations

Tourism-related purposes fall under the B-2 Visa. Some common tourism activities include:

  • Vacations

  • Family visits

  • Medical treatment

  • Sports or entertainment nonpaid performances by amateurs

Immigrant Visa Categories

Immigration visas generally fall under the categories of family sponsorship or employer sponsorship.

  • Family Sponsorship – These visas are issued to immigrants who are sponsored by relatives already living in the United States. This may include a spouse, fiancé, and certain other close relations. International adoptions are also covered under family-sponsored visas.

  • Employer Sponsorship – These visas are issued for certain employees of United States businesses. Members of preferential hiring groups fall under this category, along with religious workers and translators of the Afghan and Iraqi languages.

  • Diversity Immigrants – These visas are issued to individuals from countries with a significantly low rate of immigration into the United States. The available visas cover six geographic regions, with limits on the number of visas issued for each individual country. Immigrants from countries such as France, Spain, and Bulgaria fall within this classification of visa.  

  • Returning Resident – Lawful permanent residents, or conditional residents, who have resided outside of the United States for more than a year, must reapply for a new visa before resuming permanent residence within the country.


This is a brief overview of the various visa classifications. For a detailed explanation, contact Barst Mukamal & Kleiner LLP, our experienced New York immigration attorneys have the knowledge to assist with all of your immigration needs. Call the office today at (888) 506-1291 for a consultation.

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