In general, a citizen of a foreign country who seeks to enter the United States temporarily must first obtain a U.S. nonimmigrant visa, which is placed in the traveler’s passport.
For information regarding the new VWP/ESTA eligibility requirements, click here.
Tourism and Visitor
B-1 visas are nonimmigrant visas for persons traveling to the United States temporarily to engage in business activities such as the negotiation of contracts, consultation with business associates, litigation, and participation in scientific, educational, professional or business conventions, conferences or seminars and other legitimate activities of a commercial or professional nature.
Treaty Trader or Treaty Investor
Treaty Trader visas (E-1) and Treaty Investor visas (E-2) are nonimmigrant visas for citizens of countries which the United States maintains a treaty of commerce and navigation (9 FAM 402.9-10). The applicant must be coming to the United States to engage in substantial trade, including trade in services or technology, in qualifying activities, principally between the United States and the treaty country (E-1); or to develop and direct the operations of an enterprise in which the applicant has invested or is in the process of investing a substantial amount of capital (E-2).
Study & Exchange
Students taking part in an exchange program, and those wishing to take up prearranged employment, training or research in the United States under an officially approved program sponsored by an educational or other nonprofit institution, require exchange visitor (J-1) visas.
Diplomats & Other Government Officials
With the exception of a Head of State or Government who qualifies for an A-1 visa regardless of the purpose of the visit to the United States, the type of visa required by a diplomat or other government official depends upon the reason for entering the United States.
Government officials traveling to the United States to perform non-governmental functions of a commercial nature or traveling as tourists require the appropriate H, L or B visa, or if qualified, travel visa free under the Visa Waiver Program; they do not qualify for diplomatic or official visas.