Cities and Towns in the United States > Travel > Apply for a Nonimmigrant Visa to the U.S.


If you are a non-American citizen and you wish to travel to the United States in a temporary visit, this information will be very useful for you.

In this article, you will learn how to apply for different types of visas for foreigners, whether for tourism, students, business travelers and future spouses.

Also, you will find information about the Visa Waiver Program, and how to get a job in the United States as a foreign worker.

American Visa


If you are planning a brief visit to the United States for business or tourism, you may need to apply for a visitor or transit visa.

These are the steps you should follow:

1. Find out if you need a visa

Check if your country participates in the US Visa Waiver Program (VWP). If you don't see your country on the list, you will need a nonimmigrant visa to visit the U.S.

2. Determine what type of visa you need for your visit

Most business and tourism travelers use B-1 and B-2 visitor visas.

The B-1 visa classification allows business travelers to consult with business partners, attend conferences, establish an estate or negotiate a contract.

The B-2 visa classification is for tourists on vacation, people visiting the country for medical treatment, a social event or participation in open competitions for amateurs.

Transit visas are less common.

The C transit visa classification is for foreign citizens traveling through the United States to another country and briefly stopping in the United States as part of their journey to the next foreign destination.

C-1, D, and C-1/D transit visas are for crews of ocean vessels or international airlines traveling to the U.S.

3. Apply for a visa

The visa application process will vary depending on the U.S. Embassy or Consulate. You must follow the specific instructions for the country in which you are located.

In general, you will need to:

  • - Complete the DS-160 online form for nonimmigrant visa application
  • - Bring a recent picture
  • - Pay the visa application fee
  • - Schedule an interview


International business or leisure travelers who are citizens of one of the 38 countries participating in the U.S. Visa Waiver Program (VWP) can obtain a visa waiver (you can check the list of countries here).

Under this scheme, while you will not need a visa to come to the US for your business meeting or vacation, you will need to obtain an approved travel authorization prior to your trip to the US.

How to apply for and get approval to travel to the U.S.

  • • Check the list of the 38 countries participating in the Visa Waiver Program (VWP).
  • • You must have an electronic passport to use the VWP. This type of passport has a built-in chip.
  • • Fill out the online application for the Electronic Travel Authorization System (ESTA). This system determines the eligibility of a visitor to travel to the United States under the VWP.
  • • Pay the $ 4.00 processing fee. If approved, you will have to pay an additional authorization fee of $ 10.00.
  • • When you complete your application, you will get an ESTA application number. Use this number to check the status of your application if you have been accepted to travel to the U.S.

Visitors traveling to the U.S. for business meetings or conferences under the VWP can stay up to 90 days without a visa.



An international student can apply for a student or exchange visitor visa only after being accepted by a school certified in the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP). Student records are kept in the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS).

Types of Educational Visas

The course of study, the school you plan to attend, or the exchange program you are in will determine the type of student visa you will need. The most common student visas are F-1 and M-1 visas.

What are the differences between F-1 and M-1 visas?

The F-1 visa classification is for a full-time international student pursuing academic studies.

In the other hand, the M-1 visa classification is for a full-time international student undertaking vocational studies.

What is the J-1 visa and who can apply for it?

The J-1 visa classification is also known as the Exchange Visitor Program (EVP) and is for foreign nationals approved to participate in work or study exchange programs. Examples include: a visiting professor, a field advisor, or a research assistant.

The length of the stay for a J-1 visa holder depends on the agreement between the applicant and the sponsoring organization approved by the State Department.


Who can apply for a NAFTA Professional Visa or TN Visa?

Only citizens of Canada and Mexico are eligible for a NAFTA Nonimmigrant Professional visa to work in the US. The NAFTA Professional visa is known as TN and grants the holder temporary entry to the USA to work in commercial activities at a professional level for an initial period of up to three years.

How do I apply for a NAFTA (TN) Professional visa?

After receiving a letter from your future employer confirming your offer for the position, the application processes vary for Canadian and Mexican citizens:

  • • Canadian citizens

  • A NAFTA (TN) Professional visa is generally not required. You'll be able to go directly to a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) port of entry, with your paperwork for an interview to be admitted to the United States as a nonimmigrant who can legally work in the U.S.

  • • Mexican citizens

  • A NAFTA Professional (TN) visa is required. You will need to complete the online DS-160 visa application form, print the confirmation page and take it to your interview. If you are applying in Mexico, a photo is not required for your application.

    We strongly advise you to prepare for your interview: Review the list of documents you'll need to bring to your interview in person, including the details that should appear in your potential employer's letter.


    Depending on your skills, circumstances, and the work you plan to do, you may come to the U.S. as a temporary or permanent foreign worker, or as a temporary visitor on business.

    Under certain circumstances, you can also work in the United States if you are a foreign student or an exchange visitor.

    Obtain a work visa

    As a foreign worker, you will need a visa to obtain employment in the US. Each type of visa has different requirements, conditions, and time limits.

    Visit the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) website for an overview of each category of worker and type of visa.

    You can use the Department of State's Visa Wizard to find out:

    • - The type of visa you need
    • - The application process
    • - Registry
    • - Estimated waiting time for a visa interview
    • - Your rights and protections as a temporary foreign worker

    As a temporary foreign worker in the US, you will not be denied a visa or be punished by the United States government because you have exercised your rights under the laws of the country.


    If you violate the terms of your work visa, it may be revoked and you may be deported, arrested, or denied the right to re-enter the U.S.

    If you think you or someone you know is being brought into the United States for human trafficking, get help now.


    If you are in the US and have questions about visas and immigration, please contact the USCIS National Customer Service Center.

    If you are in another country, contact the nearest international immigration office.


    If you are a citizen of another country, are engaged to a citizen of the United States, and plan to marry and live in the United States, your fiancé(e) can apply for a K-1 visa for you.

    The K-1 visa allows you to travel to the United States to marry your fiancé(e) within 90 days of your arrival. After you get married, you can apply for an adjustment of status to obtain a Permanent Resident Card (Green Card).

    The K-1 visa expires after 90 days and cannot be extended. If you do not marry within that period, you must leave the country or face possible deportation.

    Find the instructions on how to apply for your K-1 visa on the information page of the Department of State.

    Download the forms for your fiancé(e) to apply for his/her visa and request authorization to work. Find all the information on the visa page of the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services.

    Administrative Procedures in other countries: