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Immigrant Vs. Non-Immigrant Visas: Definitions And Common Types

When you want to begin the process of immigration to the United States, you have so many options for visas that it might seem confusing or overwhelming. Each visa has certain eligibility requirements, so it can be difficult to know where you fit in or which visa best aligns with your immigration goals.

For example–do you want to stay in the U.S. temporarily or work toward more permanent residency? Do you know whether your answer affects the kind of visa you should apply for?

The immigration lawyers at Weldon Law Group, PLLC, understand that the legal system for immigrants in the U.S. can seem stressful. There are many decisions you have to make, applications to fill out, fees to pay, and interviews to attend, all depending on the specifics of what you hope to achieve in the U.S.

We have broken down explanations for some of the most common types of visas that you are likely to encounter. Read on to discover where your goals fit on the spectrum!

Immigrant Vs. Non-Immigrant Visas: Definitions And Common Types

Immigrant Vs. Non-Immigrant Visas

Visas fall largely into two main categories: immigrant and non-immigrant visas.

According to U.S. Customs, immigrant visas apply to applicants who wish to live permanently in the U.S., whereas non-immigrant visas are for applicants who only intend to stay in the U.S. for a short period of time.

Encompassed within these categories are many different types of visas that apply to immigrants based on their relations within the U.S. or their intentions for coming over. For example, you might be coming here to marry, work, study, tour, or more–all of these objectives align with a specific visa!

Examples Of Immigrant Visas

If you are coming to the U.S. in order to live here permanently, you will need the help of an immigrant visa. With this type of visa, you often have the option of applying for a green card in order to become a permanent resident of the U.S. Immigrant visas are typically granted when you have been sponsored by a U.S. citizen or permanent resident, such as a spouse or an employer. However, there are situations in which you can be granted a visa independent of an American sponsor.

Some common types of immigrant visas include:

  • Immigrant Visa For A Spouse Of A U.S. Citizen (IR1 or CR1): Also known as spousal visas, these visas allow the spouse of a U.S. citizen to immigrate to the U.S. and live with them on a permanent basis. In the cases of these visas, the American resident spouse will act as the sponsor for the emigrating partner. If you and your spouse have been married less than two years, you can come here on a CR1 visa as a conditional resident, and if you have been married more than two years, you can reside here on an IR1 visa as an immediate relative.
  • Family Preference Visas (F1, F2A, and F2B): If you are related to an American citizen, you can be granted a family preference visa. There are different levels of these types of visas based on your relation within the U.S. F1 visas are for unmarried children or residents over the age of 21 of U.S. citizens, F2A visas are for spouses and unmarried children under the age of 21 of U.S. permanent residents (aka green card holders), and F2B visas are for unmarried children over the age of 21 for U.S. permanent residents.
  • Employment Based Visas (EB-1, EB-2, EB-3): Employment-related visas are distributed on multiple tiers based on job titles and any particular abilities that you have demonstrated. EB-1 visas are awarded to applicants based on “extraordinary abilities” within their field, such as Pulitzer Prize winners and Olympic gold medalists. EB-2 visas are issued to outstanding researchers and professors, while EB-3 visas are given to certain managers and executives.

And more! These are a sample of the more popular types of immigrant visas, so speak with your immigration attorney if you feel that there might be another type that is more relevant to your reasons for coming to the U.S.

Examples Of Non-Immigrant Visas

Non-immigrants visas are for people who intend to stay in the U.S. strictly on a temporary basis. They are issued for a variety of reasons, including work, tourism, medical treatment, and more.

Some types of non-immigrant visas include:

  • Visitor Visas (B-1 and B-2): B-1 visas are issued to people who are traveling to the U.S. for business for reasons such as attending conferences, settling an estate, or negotiating contracts. B-2 visas, on the other hand, are issued to tourists who are visiting the U.S. on holiday, to receive medical treatment, to attend social events, and more.
  • Student Visa (F-1): The F-1 visa for academic students allows you to study in the U.S. if you are enrolled at an accredited university, seminary, high school, or other legitimate institution that will earn you a degree. You must be fluent in English, have the funds to be self-sufficient, and maintain a residence abroad in order to be granted this type of visa.
  • Exchange Visitor Visa (J-1): If you are participating in an exchange program, you can be granted this type of visa. There are several different categories in which you can participate as an exchange visitor, including if you are a physician, student, intern, teacher, au pair, and many more.

There are many other types of non-immigrant visas that exist, including visas for speciality occupations, agricultural workers, workers who have been transferred to a U.S. job position within their company, NAFTA professionals, and many more, so speak with your immigration attorney to find the visa that is right for your needs.

Weldon Law Group Can Assist With Your Immigration Legal Needs

Weldon Law Group, PLLC, has been helping our clients set up their lives in the U.S. for over two decades. We help good people make their home in the greatest country in the world! We are a bilingual law group with the experience needed to advise you on what type of visa you should pursue and what moves you should make throughout your immigration journey. Reach out to schedule a free initial consultation and learn how we can help you on your path to America.