US Immigration Overview
This is a table of the principal visa categories and immigrant visa categories. © Allen C. Ladd, P.C. 2019
United States CitizenshipUS citizenship
* By birth, acquisition through parent, or naturalization
* If by naturalization, after period of permanent residence and US domicile
Permanent Residence - Employment-BasedEB-1
* Multinational executive/managerial transfer (EB-1C)
* Often based on L-1A visa
EB-1 or EB-2
* "Extraordinary ability" (EB-1A) or "NIW" waiver of "PERM" and job offer (EB-2)
* May be based on O-1 or P-1 visa
EB-2 or EB-3
* "PERM" labor certification process + offer of employment.
* “PERM” is recruitment process, overseen by USDOL.
* “PERM” approval is first step, then USCIS approval of Form I-140.
Permanent Residence - Family BasedVarious classifications
* Through "immediate relative" (USC parent, spouse, adult child)
* Through USC parent of adult child, USC adult sibling
* Through permanent resident parent of unmarried adult child
* If other than "immediate relative", spouse and minor unmarried children are included
Permanent Residence based on grant of Asylee or Refugee Status"Asylee" or "Refugee" (based on UN rules)
* Proven fear of persecution in home country based on 5 "protected grounds"
* After approval for "asylee" or "refugee" status, may sponsor spouse, minor unmarried children
* 1 year after approval, may apply for permanent residence
"Nonimmigrant" (Temporary) Work Visas - Treaty-BasedPrerequisites for E-1 and E-2 visas
(1) "Treaty of commerce and navigation" ratified by United States and country in question.
(2) Registration of foreign-owned US business ("Treaty Enterprise") with US consulate abroad.
Treaty Trader visa (E-1)
* Substantial trade with home country
Treaty Investor visa (E-2)
* Substantial investment and job creation, including entrepreneur and franchisee
"Nonimmigrant" (Temporary) Work Visas - Overseas TransferMultinational executive/managerial transfer (L-1A)
* High-level transfer from overseas to USA
Multinational advanced/specialized knowledge (L-1B)
* Key technical transfer
"Nonimmigrant" (Temporary) Work Visas - Other Worker"Specialty occupation" visa (H-1B)
* Numerical "cap"
* Restrictive USCIS review policy under Trump administration
Seasonal agricultural visa (H-2A)
* Numerical "cap";
* Requires USDOL pre-approval
Seasonal or "peak load" visa (H-2B)
Trainee visa (H-3)
* USA-only training for career overseas
Australian-national "specialty occupation" visa (E-3)
NAFTA "professional" for employment in designated occupations (TN)
* Canadian and Mexican citizens
"Extraordinary ability", athletic, entertainment visa (O-1, P-1)
* Experts, competitors, performers
"Nonimmigrant" (Temporary) Non-Work VisasStudent visa (F-1 academic or M-1 vocational)
* Post-grad "practical training" employment is authorized
Exchange visitor (J-1)
* Includes training, medical resident, au pair program
* Post-grad "practical training" authorized
Business VisitorBusiness visitor visa (B-1) or ESTA "WB" (for “Waiver Business")
* Must represent overseas employer
* Limited after-sales, etc. services in USA
* May be used in lieu of H-1B, H-3 in limited circumstances