A visa is required for foreign citizens to enter the U.S., unless they meet the requirements for a visa-free travel. There are 2 types of visas: immigrant and non-immigrant. Immigrant visas are designed for foreign citizens who intend to make the U.S. their permanent residence (they may have multiple residences, but the U.S. residence must be the permanent one). Non-immigrant visas are intended only for a temporary stay in the U.S.

There are a variety of non-immigrant and immigrant visas available, depending on the purpose of travel to the U.S., such as for tourism, vacation or pleasure (see
tourist visas), for working on sea vessels or international airlines (crewmember visas), for study in the U.S. (see student visas), for temporary employment (see temporary employment visas), for marriage to a U.S. citizen (see fiancé(e) visas), for permanent immigration to the U.S. based on a family relationship (see family-based visas), etc.

Foreign citizens living outside of the U.S. must apply at a U.S. Department of State (DOS) consulate abroad to get an immigrant visa. This process is called consular processing. The first step in consular processing is filing of an immigrant petition. Once the petition is approved, it is forwarded to the DOS’s National Visa Center (NVC) for visa processing. If a visa is available, the NVC will collect all fees and supporting documentation and will forward the case to a consulate abroad, where the immigrant will be scheduled for a visa interview and visa issuance. 


Foreign citizens wishing to obtain a non-immigrant visa must complete an online visa application, pay the application fee, schedule an appointment at the appropriate consulate office abroad and attend the interview. Each visa type has its own specific qualification requirements. At Handy Legal Services we can walk you through all legal requirements and help you obtain the appropriate visa type to meet your specific goals. Call us now for a legal consultation. 

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​  Visas and Consular Processing

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