Types of visas to emigrate to the United States

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To legally emigrate to the United States, several visas are depending on the reason and nationality.

Man holding a Visa

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LatinAmerican Post | Santiago Lozano Cortés

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Leer en español: Tipos de visas para emigrar a Estados Unidos

The visa is a conditional authorization granted by a country to a foreign citizen. In the specific case of the United States of America, the Office of Consular Affairs of the Department of State explains that this document allows you to travel to a port of entry, airport, or land border crossing, and request permission from the Customs and Border Protection inspector (CBP). ) from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to enter the United States. “While having a visa does not guarantee entry to the United States, it does indicate that a consular officer at a US embassy or consulate abroad has determined that you are eligible to apply for entry for that specific purpose.”.

In this way, the Consular Affairs office points out that the type of visa you must obtain is defined by US immigration law and is related to the purpose of your trip. There are two main categories of US visas, Nonimmigrant Visas which is constituted as a document to travel to the United States temporarily. And immigrant visas, which are certifications of permission to travel to live permanently in the United States.

What Are The Types Of Visas That Can Be For The USA?

Within the framework of non-immigrant visas, which are frequently used by travelers who plan to be in a North American country for specific reasons for a defined period, the United States government initially designated the following categories of visas as the most frequently are requested:


According to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, a person may be eligible for a B-1 visa if they will be engaged in business activities of a commercial or professional nature in the United States. With this visa, you can stay in North American territory for no more than 6 months. It is valid for 1, 3, or 10 years.


The B2 visa is a US visitor visa that allows you to enter the United States for tourism, recreation, or to visit friends and family. This class of visas allow people to stay in the United States for up to 6 months and are valid for 1, 3 or 10 years. To extend this visa, people who are in the United States must complete the Application for Extension or Change of Nonimmigrant Status (form I-539) to extend their stay with the office of Citizenship and Immigration Services.

Study Visa

According to a study published by CNN in Spanish, the most common visa category to enter the United States as a student is the F-1, which allows the applicant to be a full-time student at an institute, university, seminary, conservatory, academic (higher) secondary school, or other institution, as well as a language program. In 2021, the US issued 357,839 F-1 visas.

The study also highlights that new students who will enter the North American nation under F-1 and M-1 visas can obtain the document up to 120 days before the course start date, although the student will only be able to enter the United States. 30 days before the start date of their studies and the duration of the visa depends on the duration of the program they are about to study. However, foreign students will have 60 days to leave the country once the program ends.

Students may apply to receive up to 12 months of OPT employment authorization before and/or after completing their studies. Likewise, students in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) can request a 24-month extension of their OPT employment authorization.

Refugee Visa

According to the United States, Citizenship and Immigration Services, an individual or family group must have received a referral to the United States Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP) to receive refugee status. After that, a USCIS officer will interview you abroad to determine if you are eligible for resettlement as a refugee.

Also read: Colombia: What would change or remain in case of not requiring an American visa?

If you are approved as a refugee, you will receive a medical exam, cultural orientation, help with your travel plans, and a loan for your trip to the United States. After you arrive in the United States, you will be eligible for medical and monetary assistance.

Finally, if you have refugee status and want to travel outside of the United States, you will need to obtain a refugee travel document to be allowed to return to the United States. If you do not obtain a refugee travel document before your departure, you may not be allowed to re-enter the United States. If you return to the country you fled from, you will need to explain how you were able to return safely.

Asylum In The United States

According to the US Citizenship and Immigration Services office, a person can only file this application if they are physically present in the United States and are not a US citizen.

To apply for affirmative asylum or asylum defense, Form I-589, Application for Asylum and Withholding of Removal, must be filed within one year of the person's arrival in the United States.

Finally, if a person is granted asylum, they can ask to bring their spouse and children to the United States by filing Form I-730, Refugee/Asylee Relative Petition . To include your child on your application, they must be under 21 and unmarried.