Overview: Coming to the United States

Foreign nationals coming to the United States can be generally classified into 2 classes: Immigrants (or Legal Permanent Residents) and Non-immigrants.

A Non-immigrant is a foreign national who is making a temporary visit to the United States for a specific purpose and for a specified period of time - for business, pleasure, studies, to participate in training or exchange programs, conduct trade or make an investment, work for a specific employer or organization for a specified period, or work for a foreign government or international organization which operates within the U.S. Non-immigrants are required to leave the U.S. when their visas expire, but some non-immigrants may be eligible to adjust to legal permanent resident status.

An Immigrant or Legal Permanent Resident is a foreign national who has been granted legal permanent resident (LPR) or green card status either by way of an approved petition from a qualified family member (family-based immigration), or by a sponsoring employer (employment based immigration), or by lottery under the “permanent diversity program”.


Visit the U.S.

B Visa – Business or Pleasure

Study in the U.S.

F Visa – Academic Students
M Visa – Vocational Students
J Visa – Q Visa – Exchange Visitor’s Program

Invest in the U.S.

E Visa – Treaty Trader or Treaty Investor

Live in the U.S. (See Immigrants/Legal Permanent Residents)

K Visa – Fiancé/Fiancée of U.S. Citizen, and Minor Child/ren

Work in the U.S.

Non-immigrant Workers

Temporary Workers

E – International Traders and Investors
H – Temporary Workers and Trainees
L – Intracompany Transferees
O – Aliens of Extraordinary Ability
P – Entertainers and Athletes
Q – Participants in International Exchange Programs
R – Religious Workers

NAFTA: North American Free Trade Agreement

TN - Canadians and Mexicans are classified as Treaty Nationals Under NAFTA

Workers from Foreign Governments & International Organizations

A – Diplomatic and other government officials, and their families and employees
G – Representatives to international organizations and their families and employees
I – Representatives of foreign media and their families
N – Parents and children of the persons who have been granted special immigrant status because their parents were employed by an international organization in the United States

Immigrant Workers (See Permanent Residents - Employment Based)

Immigrants (Legal Permanent Residents)


Spouse, Children and Parents of US Citizens

Spouse and Children of Permanent Residents

LIFE Act – K-3 Spouse of a U.S. Citizen and K-4 Child/ren of K-3 V-1 Spouse and V-2 Child/ren of Legal Permanent Residents

VAWA (Violence Against Women Act)


EB–1 Priority Workers

Alien of Extraordinary Ability in the Sciences, Arts, Education, Business or Athletics

Alien Outstanding Professors or Researchers

Alien Managers and Executives Subject to International Transfer to the United States

EB–2 Professionals with Advanced Degrees or Persons with Exceptional Ability

Aliens of Exceptional Ability in the Sciences, Arts or Business

Aliens Who are Advanced Degree Professionals Qualified Alien Physicians Who Will Practice Medicine in an Underserved Area of the United States

EB–3 Skilled or Professional Workers

Alien Professionals with Bachelor's Degrees (not qualifying for a higher preference category)

Alien Skilled workers (minimum two years training and experience)

Alien unskilled workers

EB–4 Special Immigrants

Alien Religious Workers

Employees and Former Employees of the U.S. Government Abroad

Permanent Diversity Program

PERM Labor Certification


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