Visas for the USA

Below we provide information on how to obtain visas for the USA. In the following article we will inform you about the type of visas available, the requirements to obtain it, the cost in 2020 and we will answer frequently asked questions related to visas for the United States.


If you need assistance or help with a visa and immigration issue, immigration lawyers in Los Angeles from Lluis Law can help you with whatever you need. We can assist you in visa and residence applications based on business or investment, American residence by family request and in any other consular matter.


Why are visas necessary to enter the USA?

Foreign citizens (with some exceptions) who wish to enter the territory of the United States require a visa to do so. This document is placed in the passport issued by the traveler’s country.

Some foreigners may be eligible to travel to the US without a visa, provided they meet the requirements for visa waivers. These travelers belong to countries with which the United States has signed the Visa Waiver Program, which includes 38 countries, including Chile and Spain.

Visas in the USA allows the foreign citizen to travel to the United States and request entry through any land, sea or airport border point. However, this document does not guarantee entry to the country, because before an officer of the Department of National Security (DHS) or Customs and Border Protection (CBP), must perform the inspection and authorize the entry.

In addition to admission to the country, DHS / CBP inspectors establish the state and period of time that the foreigner will remain in the United States.

visa approved or denied

Visa types for the USA

The United States classifies visitors through the visa system, according to the reason for the visit. With the exception of Chile, citizens of other Latin American countries need a visa to travel to the US. Similarly, citizens who have dual citizenship (American and other) and are eligible for the ESTA visa do not need a visa either.

Visas granted by the United States government are classified as Nonimmigrant visas and Immigrant visas.

Visas for non-immigrants in the USA

For people who travel temporarily to the United States and are not US citizens or permanent legal residents, there are several types of non-immigrant visas available.

Under the US Immigration Law, the purpose of the trip determines the type of visa that will be issued to the visitor. Before embarking on the trip to the United States, the traveler must know what type of visa he needs and request it from the US embassy or consulate in his home country.

The nonimmigrant visa is requested for reasons of tourism, academic studies, business, transit, participation in international events or conventions and medical consultations. It also includes temporary workers as well as employees of multinational companies that are transferred to the United States.

Other professions or trades such as journalist, diplomats, humanitarian and religious aid personnel, also receive non-immigrant visas that authorize them to enter the country for the time necessary to carry out their work.

The length of stay granted to the applicant and the validity of the visa is determined by the immigration officer who conducts the previous interview to the applicant, at the United States embassy of the respective country.

The nonimmigrant visa can be requested individually or by groups, for the whole family, sports teams, musical orchestras or company personnel, depending on the reason for the visit.

Types of Nonimmigrant visas in the USA

Depending on the purpose of the trip, there are almost 40 different types of nonimmigrant visas, the most frequent being B1, B2, C, D, J, Q, J-1-J-2, M-1, M-2 visas , HB1, H-1B, H-2A, H-2B, H-3, L, O-1, P; also the visas R, 1, E-1, E-2, E-3, G1 and G5, A and TN / TD.

Other visa categories are T-1, P, BCC, J-1 and J-2, K-1, A-2, O-1, H-1B1, H-1C, I, F-1, F- 2, M-1, M-2, H-3, C, T-1.

To enter the United States, foreign underage require a visa that must be processed by their parents or representatives. The procedure to acquire it is done online by filling out the form prior to scheduling an appointment and paying the fee.

Family visas for the USA

Visa V. It is a Nonimmigrant visa that was created to allow families to stay together while they wait for the process and approval of an immigrant visa.

Student Visas for the USA

F-1 Visa : For foreigners who wish to study at an academic institution in the United States.

M-1 Visa : For non-immigrants attending a vocational school in the United States.

J-1 Visa : For those who participate in the Exchange Visitor Program. For example, researchers, professors, students and nannies AuPair.

Employment visas for the USA

H-1B Visa : For foreign professionals with degrees, postgraduate degrees and other specialties.

H-2B Visa : For skilled or unskilled temporary non-farm workers.

E-3 Visa : For Australian nationals who come to the US only to provide services in certain specialized occupations.

L-1 Visa : For senior executives of subsidiaries of US companies (managers, executives and other specialized workers) who go to the US to work for their employers.

Business and investment visas for the USA

E-2 Visa

This visa is ideal for people looking to emigrate to the United States and invest in a business of their choice. With this type of visa, the investor and his immediate family can live, invest, work and study in the USA. There are several requirements to apply to this type of visa, relative to the amount of the investment and the type of business that the investor wishes to set up.

One of the requirements is that the foreign investor must be a citizen of a country which has a trade agreement with the USA. Some of the advantages offered by E-2 visas are that they are not subject to annual limits like other visas. They are usually approved very quickly. This type of visa allows the holder to work legally in the United States running their own business.

The investor with an E-2 visa can remain in the US indefinitely while his business is in operation. Although you must be renewing your visa from time to time.

Immigrant Visas for the USA

Immigrant visas based on employment, business and investment are the most frequent in this group. However, there are other types of immigrant or residence visas depending on the reasons for the application. Such is the case of the T visa, which benefits victims of human trafficking. Together with the U visa, which covers victims of crimes committed in the United States.

These visas are a little more difficult to obtain, because the procedure needs more requirements and approval time depending on each case. Therefore, the legal representation of a good immigration lawyer is essential to obtain an immigrant visa.

First, the applicant for an immigrant visa must already be present within the United States. Unlike the nonimmigrant visa that does not require physical presence. The exception to this rule occurs when the application is sponsored by an employer or a family member.

Other options to obtain an immigrant visa

There are other ways to apply for an immigrant visa for people who are at obvious risk of danger against their integrity and personal safety. Either through human trafficking, prostitution or slavery by criminal organizations.

This includes people who have been persecuted or fear to be in their countries of origin due to their religious beliefs, political ideas, nationality or culture or because of their sexual inclination. Also complete family groups that are separated by violence and flee war or racial persecution.

It is recommended that people who plan to process the immigrant visa to the United States, before doing so, are informed and well advised about their eligibility and real possibilities of obtaining this visa.

When the person is requested by a family member or employer, it is the sponsor who makes the request to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Once the petition is approved the immigrant visa process can be properly initiated through the National Visa Center (NVC). For the right to process, a fee must be canceled.

Another option to obtain an immigrant visa is through the Residence Visa Diversity Program, commonly called a visa lottery. Like nonimmigrant visas, immigrant visas are classified according to the purpose of the application.

Types of immigrant visas

  • Family visas: fiance visa (K-1), couples visa (K-3); visa for couple and children (F2), children of US citizens, singles under 21 (F1); married daughters and sons of United States citizens and their spouses and minor children (F3).
  • Visas from siblings of US citizens (F4).
  • Adoption visas.
  • Employment visas.
  • Visas for employees.
  • Investor visas (EB-5).
  • Professional extraordinary abilities.
  • Translator visas in conflict zones.
  • Religious visas.

Employment, business and investment visas for the USA

The United States government has approximately 140,000 employment-based immigrant visas each year for applicants with qualified skills or professions in various fields. At the Lluis Law firm, we can assist you in processing visa applications based on employment, business or investment and any other consular matters.

Employment visas

To apply for an employment visa, the future employer must first request approval of a labor certification by the Department of Labor. After the employer obtains it, they must file a US Immigrant Petition for Foreign Worker, through Form I-140, according to the preference category based on the required employment.

These employment-based visas for the USA are divided into five preference categories:

E1 Visa. First Employment Preference: Priority Workers. For people who have extraordinary skills according to the category of employment preference, the procedure is different, because they can do the process themselves. This category includes people with extraordinary abilities in the scientific, artistic, educational, business and athletic fields, teachers and researchers and managers / executives of multinational companies.

E2 visa. Second Employment Preference: covers professionals who have advanced degrees and others with exceptional skills.

E3 visa. Third employment preference: groups skilled workers, as well as professionals and unskilled workers.

E4 visa. Fourth Employment Preference: benefits certain Special Immigrants.

E5 E5. Fifth Employment Preference: benefits immigrant foreign investors.

Once the visa petition has been approved by the USCIS, it is sent to the National Visa Center (NVC), where a case number is assigned to that request. From then on the the administrative process begins for the availability of visas and priority dates.

Business visa

B1 visa. It is the business visa that differs from the B2 visa, precisely for the purpose of the trip. 

Tourist visa

B2 visa. It is a visa that allows the foreigner to travel temporarily to the US for tourism or travel reasons; also for a family visit or medical treatment.

tourist visa

Investment Visas

There are two types of investment visas primarily. E-2 investor visa and the EB-5 investor visa.

EB-5 visas

This type of visas for the USA are also known as “golden ticket” visas. Because one of the requirements to obtain it is to make an investment in a new company with the amount of $ 500,000 or $ 1,000,000. The $ 500,000 investment must be made at a regional Center designated for immigrant investors.

If you want to establish another type of business, then the investor must invest $ 1,000,000.00 minimum in any other type of business in the US. As a result of the investment, at least 10 jobs for American workers must be generated.

This EB-5 visa program has greater advantages than that of the E-2 visas because it allows to opt for US citizenship. For both the investor and his immediate family. On the other hand, for EB-5 visas there are no limits in terms of number by countries and they have fewer restrictions than any other type of visa.

If the investor and his family wish to become US citizens, they can process their citizenship once they have stayed for 5 years of residence in the country. This migration process is carried out through an adjustment of status.

Requirements to apply for an immigrant visa

Prior to the immigrant visa application, the sponsor’s request must have been approved by the National Visa Center (NVC). Then an agent is chosen and the fee is paid for the right to the procedure. The requirements or documents that must accompany the application are the following:

  • Non-immigrant visa previously approved.
  • Birth certificate.
  • Sustainability letter ( form I-864 ).
  • Application for Immigrant Visa and Foreigner Registration DS-260.

In 2020 and since 2019 the authorities review the applicant’s social networks to process the American visa. The requirements are updated regularly and some new are constantly being introduced, which can be frustrating for you.

But don’t worry, we are here to help you. Lluis Law immigration attorneys have been serving Hispanic and other foreigners for more than 50 years. You can now request your free consultation with us so that we can offer you personalized attention on your case.

Requirements to obtain visas for the USA

The requirements to obtain the American visa depend on the type of visa you want to apply for. However, there are common requirements for nonimmigrant visa applications.

One of the most requested visas is the tourist visa and the documents that must be attached, in addition to the DS-160 form are as follows:

  • Valid passport, which does not expire before 6 months.
  • Travel itinerary if you have it.
  • Mention the dates of the last five visits or trips to the US, if applicable. You can ask for travel history to other countries.
  • Resume or Curriculum Vitae.
  • Other information. Depending on the purpose of the trip some applicants must provide some additional information on the DS-160 form.

Also, certain applicants such as students and exchange visitors may be asked to add more information and additional documents. Also to temporary workers who have made an employment visa application based on a petition (H-1B, H-2, H-3, CW1, L, O, P, R, E2C) and other temporary workers.

requirements to apply for a visa

How to get a visa for the United States?

After filling out the DS-160 template available here, you must follow the steps below:

  1. Make the visa application for the United States, completing the DS-160 form to apply individually or with the family group. This migration form is available on the website of the respective embassy or consulate of the applicant’s country of origin.
  2. Print and keep the page corresponding to the DS-160 barcode. It is not necessary to print the complete form.
  3. Schedule an appointment for the visa interview through the website of the United States embassy or consulate in your country.
  4. Pay the processing fee for the United States visa application. You should carefully review the specific instructions indicated by the US embassy or consulate.
  5. Promptly attend the interview at the embassy / consulate and bring all supporting documents of the information provided on the DS-160 form.

In the interview with the immigration officer, they will tell you if your visa application was approved, pending or rejected.

How to get a student visa for the United States?

After determining where, how and what to study, the applicant must apply for the university or English school where he intends to study full time. When the academic institution accepts the future student, it sends the I-20 form.

This document is the most important to apply for the F-1 or M-1 student visa. To learn more about how to obtain a student visa for the United States, you can visit the DHS website, Students section

What is the visa bulletin?

It is a monthly publication of the Department of State in which foreigners are informed with requests for approved immigrant visas when they can begin the final phase of applying for their visa. It can be for a family-based visa or an employment-based visa, through which you will finally obtain the Permanent Residence or Green Card.

The visa bulletin can be consulted through the following link on the website of the State Department. The publication offers a summary on the availability of immigrant visa numbers. The newsletter is published for specific months for both “Final action dates” and “Dates for submitting applications”.

On these dates, the final documentation required by the National Visa Center must be submitted.

Frequently asked questions about visas for the USA

Here are answers to many of the questions we receive about the American visa. Remember that our immigration law firm is at your service. Do not hesitate to contact us so we can answer any questions about it. You can use the free consultation and our lawyers will directly assist you with your case.

How can I renew my American visa?

To renew an American Tourist (B1 / B2) visa, the applicant must meet the following requirements:

  • Already have a valid B-1 / B-2 visa but it is about to expire or has expired in the last 12 months. After this time the applicant must make a new request.
  • Or if the applicant had a visa valid for 5 years but at the time of issuance, he was under 14 years old.
  • Not have been arrested or convicted of a crime, or have been deported from the United States. Nor can the people who have been denied entry to the U.S. submit a visa application. Or foreigners who have had problems with the US Customs and Border Protection Service (ICE) when trying to enter the country.
  • The visa has not been rejected or revoked in the last 12 months.

Certain conditions apply to applicants under 14 years of age:

Both parents must have valid visas and apply for the same type of visa requested. Children under 14 or over 80 do not need to be present. You can send your documents to the Applicant Service Center (CAS) through DHL.

Steps to request american visa renewal

  1. Download the Visa Renewal Application Guide. Your purchase is not mandatory.
  2. Pay the American Visa Renewal Application costs. The rate varies according to the embassy or consulate of the United States.
  3. Make an appointment for the visa. Follow the instructions on the website of your country’s embassy or consulate. On the “Travel Purpose” page, the applicant will be asked if they have been denied a visa in the last 12 months and if they have a valid visa or have expired.
  4. Attend the visa interview. Don’t forget to take the interview:
  • Printed letter of the appointment obtained online;
  • Confirmation page with the barcode of the DS-160 form;
  • Valid passport;
  • Payment receipt of the Visa Rate;
  • Color photo according to the specifications indicated on the website.
  1. Pick up the visa. For approved applications, the embassy / consulate will tell you where you can pick up the visa.

What are the countries that do not require a visa to enter the United States?

There are 39 countries whose citizens do not need a visa to enter the United States, if the reason for their trip is tourism, business or for medical treatment reasons. These countries are part of the Visa Waiver or Exemption Program (VWP).

These countries are: Germany, Andorra, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brunei, Chile, South Korea, Denmark, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Estonia, Finland, France, Greece, Holland, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Monaco, Norway and New Zealand.

The citizens of Poland, Portugal, United Kingdom (England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, Isle of Man and Channel Islands) do not need a visa to enter the US. Like the Czech Republic, San Marino, Singapore, Sweden, Switzerland and Taiwan.

How much does the visa to the United States cost in 2020?

visa cost to the United States

The fee to apply for the most common nonimmigrant visa types is $ 160. This includes tourism, business, student and exchange visas. Most petition-based visas, such as work and religious visas, are $ 190. K visas cost $ 265 and the fee amount for E visas is $ 205.

Visit the travel.state.gov page for more information.

How long does it take to obtain a visa to the United States?

The average time to process and obtain the visa for the United States is 3 to 5 weeks. After you have done the interview and submitted the application, this is the time you usually expect. This includes the sending of the passport by mail, which usually takes 48 to 72 hours.

In the event that your visa application for the United States requires a request for exemption from ineligibility, it may take between 6 and 8 months from the interview request. If the application is rejected it can take up to 60 days until you receive that notification depending on the reason for the visa denial.

The time to process visas depends on the type of visa. The process is also faster in emergency circumstances. Keep in mind that the time mentioned above is just an average subject to many variables.

If you need personalized information for your specific case, do not hesitate to book your free consultation with our immigration lawyers.

How long does the tourist visa last?

The tourist visa (B2) usually allows a maximum stay of 6 months; but this depends on the immigration officer at the port of entry. This officer will give you the form I-94 which will indicate the maximum time that can remain in the country.

For citizens of countries that are members of the Visa Waiver Program (VWP), who can enter without a visa, the maximum period of stay in the country is 90 days. This period cannot be extended in any way.

What does b1 and b2 mean on the visa and how do they differ?

The B1 visa is the business visa while the B2 visa or tourist visa for the United States that allows you to travel for tourism, family visit or medical treatment.

Therefore, a B1 visa will allow the holder to visit the USA to work on a business related project. While the B2 visa is basically a tourist visa and allows the holder to travel and move within the US. In conclusion, the difference lies in the reason for the trip.

Visa for the United States for people over 60 years old

The United States visa application for seniors and senior citizens is usually a simpler and less complicated immigration process than for other people. One of the reasons is that you don’t have to go to a consular appointment. Nor does it require showing evidence of owning property, income or bank accounts, or work or family ties with US citizens.

American visa requirements for seniors

The main requirement is that the applicant has never lived illegally in the US or been convicted of any crime or that his visa has been revoked and / or denied before. However, is convenient to have some type of international medical insurance before traveling to cover any medical expenses.

Visa for the USA from Spain, Colombia, Argentina and Peru

Visas for the USA from Spain

Spanish citizens do not need a tourist or nonimmigrant visa to travel to the US. However they need to obtain an ESTA , that is, an electronic travel authorization to enter the country.

As Spain is a member of the Visa Exemption Program (VWP) countries, its citizens are exempted from the visa requirement. Instead, you must process the United States Electronic Travel Authorization System (ESTA). This system helps determine if the applicant is eligible to travel to the United States under this program.

Visas for the USA from Colombia

Colombia, like the rest of the Latin American countries with the exception of Chile, is not part of the Visa Waiver Program. Therefore, its citizens need to process a nonimmigrant visa for tourism or employment, if they wish to visit the US temporarily.

The United States embassy in Colombia advises travelers to request and obtain a nonimmigrant visa first before beginning the travel process. The most frequent type of visa in Colombia is that of tourist visas (B1 / B2). Although the embassy also processes and awards more than 20 different types of nonimmigrant visas. Among them are student, exchange, temporary work and investor visas (E2 and EB-5).

For more information visit the website of the United States embassy in Colombia.

Visas for the USA from Argentina

To enter the United States, Argentine citizens need to previously request a tourist visa (B1 / B2). The requirements are similar to those of any other Latin American country, so the applicant must only prove to the consular authorities that he meets each of these requirements.

In the directory of visa categories of the American embassy in Argentina you can determine the most appropriate visa category for your next trip to the United States.

Visas for the USA from Peru

Peruvian citizens who wish to travel to the US temporarily need to process a nonimmigrant visa before the US consular authorities in that country. Basically, you must complete the DS-160 form for Peru and meet the following requirements:

  • Be a Peruvian citizen.
  • Have a valid and valid passport for a period of more than 6 months from the date of travel.
  • Guarantee the consular authorities that you have reason to return to Peru.

For more information please consult the website of the United States Embassy in Peru.


Our firm is formed by immigration lawyers especialized in deportation who can help you obtain US citizenship or permanent residence in the United States. If you are looking for information about a visa in the USA or asylum in the United States, we can also help you.

We have more than 50 years of combined experience in representing immigrants in the Los Angeles area.