Passports + Visas

Visa Types for Immigrants

Step 1 In general, to be eligible to apply for an immigrant visa, a foreign citizen must be sponsored by a U.S. citizen relative(s), U.S. lawful permanent resident, or by a prospective employer, and be the beneficiary of an approved petition filed with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). For petition information visit the USCIS website. Learn about the different processes for the major immigrant categories, which are:

·         Immediate Relative and Family Sponsored

o    Marriage to a Foreign National
·         Employer Sponsored
·         Special Immigrants

Diversity Visa Program – Visas provided are drawn from countries with low rates of immigration to the U.S. Unlike other immigrant types, Diversity Visas (DV) do not require a U.S. sponsor, and therefore a petition is not needed.

Step 2 – After the immigrant petition has been approved (excluding DV applicants) by USCIS, then the next step is preliminary processing for a visa with the Department of State, National Visa Center. Visit Immigrant Visa Processing – the National Visa Center for information related to:

·         Affidavit of Support
·         Required applicant documents (i.e. birth certificates, police reports, marriage/divorce certificates, etc.)
·         Medical Exam/Panel physician information
·         Interviews

Types of Visas for Temporary Visitors

We welcome visitors to the United States (U.S.), with secure borders and open doors. Most Canadian citizens and many citizens from Visa Waiver Program countries can come to the U.S. without a visa if they meet certain requirements.

There are various types of nonimmigrant visas for temporary visitors to travel to the U.S., if you are not a U.S. citizen or U.S. lawful permanent resident. The purpose of your intended travel and other facts will determine what type of visa is required under U.S. immigration law. It’s important to have information about the type of nonimmigrant visa you will need for travel, and the steps required to apply for the visa at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate abroad.

Review the chart below. For more detailed information specific to each visa category, including how-to-apply information and more, select a link from the Visa Type column below.
Purpose of Travel to U.S. and Nonimmigrant Visas
Visa Type
Required: Before Applying for Visa*
Athletes, amateur & professional (compete for prize money only)
Au pairs (exchange visitor)
Australian professional specialty
Border Crossing Card: Mexico
Business visitors
Diplomats and foreign government officials
Domestic employees or nanny -must be accompanying a foreign national employer
Employees of a designated international organization, and NATO
Exchange visitors
Foreign military personnel stationed in the U.S.
Foreign nationals with extraordinary ability in Sciences, Arts, Education, Business or Athletics
Free Trade Agreement (FTA) Professionals: Chile, Singapore
International cultural exchange visitors
Intra-company transferees
Medical treatment, visitors for
Media, journalists
NAFTA professional workers: Mexico, Canada
Nurses coming to health professional shortage areas
Performing athletes, artists, entertainers
Professor, scholar, teacher (exchange visitor)
Religious workers
Specialty occupations in fields requiring highly specialized knowledge
Students: academic, vocational
Temporary agricultural workers
Temporary workers performing other services or labor of a temporary or seasonal nature.
Tourism, vacation, pleasure visitors
Training in a program not primarily for employment
Treaty traders/treaty investors
Transiting the United States
Victims of Human Trafficking
*What the abbreviations (above) mean:
Before applying for a visa at a U.S. Embassy abroad the following is required:
·         DOL = The U.S. employer must obtain foreign labor certification from the U.S. Department of Labor, prior to filing a petition with USCIS.
·         USCIS = DHS, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) must approve a Form I-129 petition, filed by the U.S. employer. ** A T-1 applicant must have USCIS approval of a Form I-914 application before a family member can apply for a visa.
·         SEVIS = Program approval entered in the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS)
·         (NA) = Not Applicable – Means that additional approval by other government agencies is not required prior to applying for a visa at the U.S. Embassy abroad.
·         Canadian NAFTA Professional workers- Visa not required, apply to CBP at border port-of-entry.
·         K visas are for the purpose of marrying a U.S. citizen and immigrating or joining a U.S. citizen spouse in the United States while awaiting USCIS approval of Form I-130 for immigrant status. Visit the immigrant visa section of this website for K-1 and K-3 visa information .

Important Notices: This chart includes nonimmigrant visas and the associated purpose of travel with links to relevant webpages. However, it should be noted this chart is not a complete list of all purposes of travel or types of nonimmigrant visas. Each visa applicant must meet the eligibility requirements for the type of visa for which he/she is applying, as determined by the consular officer at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate, following U.S. immigration laws. See more detailed information on our temporary visitor webpages.


Here are some helpful passport links.

First Time Passport Application

You Must Apply in Person If:
·         You are applying for your first U.S. passport
·         You are under age 16
·         Your previous U.S. passport was issued when you were under age 16
·         Your previous U.S. passport was lost, stolen, or damaged
·         Your previous U.S. passport was issued more than 15 years ago
·         Your name has changed since your U.S. passport was issued and you are unableto legally document your name change
Before You Start, Please Note:
·         Special Requirements for All Minors Under Age 16
·         Special Requirements for All Minors Ages 16 & 17
·         Special Requirements for Diplomatic, Official, & Regular No-Fee Passports
Read and understand Steps 1 – 7 before leaving this page.

1.Fill Out Form DS-11: Application For A U.S. Passport

Fill out Form DS-11: Application for a U.S. Passport online or by hand.  Please note that you:
·  Must not sign the application until instructed to do so by the Acceptance Agent
·  Must provide your SSN in accordance with 26 U.S.C. 6039E.  Failure to provide information requested on the form, including your social security number, may result in significant processing delays and/or the denial of your application.

2.Submit Form DS-11: Application For A U.S. Passport In Person

You must submit Form DS-11 in person at an Acceptance Facility or Passport Agency
NOTE: There are special submission requirements for All Minors Under Age 16

3.Submit Evidence of U.S. Citizenship

When applying for a U.S. passport in person, evidence of U.S. citizenship must be submitted with Form DS-11. All documentation submitted as citizenship evidence will be returned to you. These documents will be delivered with your newly issued U.S. passport or in a separate mailing.
Primary Evidence of U.S. Citizenship(One of the following):
Previously issued, undamaged U.S. Passport
Certified birth certificate issued by the city, county or state*
Consular Report of Birth Abroad or Certification of Birth
Naturalization Certificate
Certificate of Citizenship
*certified birth certificate has a registrar’s raised, embossed, impressed or multicolored seal, registrar’s signature, and the date the certificate was filed with the registrar’s office, which must be within 1 year of your birth. Please note, some short (abstract) versions of birth certificates may not be acceptable for passport purposes.
Beginning April 1, 2011, all birth certificates must also include the full names of the applicant’s parent(s). For more information, please see New Requirement for all U.S. Birth Certificates.
NOTE: If you do not have primary evidence of U.S. citizenship or your U.S. birth certificate does not meet the requirements, please see Secondary Evidence of U.S. Citizenship.

4.Present Identification

When applying for a U.S. passport in person, acceptable identification must be presented at the time of application.
Primary Identification(One of the following):
Previously issued, undamaged U.S. passport
Naturalization Certificate
Valid Driver’s License
Current Government ID (city, state or federal)
Current Military ID (military and dependents)
·  If you cannot submit primary identification, please see Secondary Identification.
·  If you apply at an Acceptance Facility and submit out-of-state primary identification, you must present an additional ID document, as well. For example, if you apply in Maryland with a Virginia Driver’s License, you must present a second ID containing as much of the following information as possible: your photo, full name, date of birth and the document issuance date.
·  If you have undergone or are going through gender transition, please see these additional requirements.

5.Submit a Photocopy of the Identification Document(s) Presented (Step 4)

Bring a photocopy of the front and back of each ID document that you will present when you apply.
·  Photocopy must be on plain white, 8 1/2 x 11″ standard paper stock, showing the front and the back of your ID
·  Photocopy must contain images on only one-side of each page submitted.
o    If copies cannot be made on the same side of one page, you may present two separate pages; one displaying the front of the ID and the second displaying the back of the ID.
·  The paper should be free of other images and/or markings.
·  The 8 1/2 x 11″ paper size cannot be substituted with a larger or smaller size paper, even if the alternative folds down to the 8 1/2 x 11″ size.
·  You may enlarge the image of your ID on the 8 1/2 x 11″ page, but you may not decrease the size of the image.
Other situations that require a photocopy of identification, but are less common, include:
·  If you are presenting Secondary Identification, you must provide a photocopy of the front and back of each document being presented with your application.  A photocopy of your credit card will not be requested if it is to be presented with Secondary Identification.
·  If you submit out-of-state primary identification, you must provide a photocopy of your primary identification document and the second ID to be presented with your application.  Both sides of all identification documents must be photocopied according to the photocopy requirements above.  If a credit card is presented as your second ID, a photocopy will not be requested.
·  An assistant to a disable applicant who witnesses the signature or signs on the disabled applicant’s behalf must present a photocopy of his or her ID
·  A person acting as an Identifying Witness must present a photocopy of his or her ID

6.Pay the Applicable Fee

Please see Current Passport Fees and methods of payment.

7.Provide One Passport Photo

To avoid processing delays, be sure your photo meets all the requirementsand are properly submitted with your application.
·  When submitting Form DS-11 in person, your photo should not be attached to the form


Here are some very helpful links for visa info.