US visa categories are divided into two types: non-immigrant and immigrant. Non-immigrant visas are temporary and allow a person to enter the US for a particular activity in the US for a limited period of time. Immigrant visas are permanent visas, otherwise known as a “green card” and allow a person to reside permanently in the US.


The B Visitor visa category allows visitors to travel to the USA for the purpose of business or tourism. The B-1 visa is for those who wish to enter the US solely for business and the B-2 visa is for those entering the USA solely for tourism. Often, a person’s activity in the US will involve a mix of business and tourism and therefore a Consular Officer may issue the visa as a combined B-1/B-2 visa so the applicant can engage in both business and tourism activities.

Most British, Irish and other European country passport holders may enter the US for up to 90 days a trip for the purpose of business or tourism.

In general, a person will need a B Visitor visa to enter the US if the following applies:

  • You hold a passport from a country that does not participate in the US Visa Waiver Program.

B Visitor Visa and E-2 Investors: Often, those who wish to travel to the US on a B Visitor visa to investigate the development or purchase of a business in the US that would serve as the basis of a future E-2 Treaty Investor visa application must travel to the US under the Visa Waiver Program as that period of 90 days per visit should provide ample amount of time to research businesses and markets in the United States. This is particularly true for B Visitor visa applicants applying at the Embassy in London or the US Consulate in Belfast.

Criteria for the US Visitor Visa

When a person applies for a B-1 or B-2 Visitor visa at an Embassy or Consulate he or she must demonstrate that the activity they intend to participate in the USA meets the requirements of the visa category (ie, visiting for business or tourism) and the applicant:

1.     has a residence and life that are based in a foreign country, outside the USA

2.     has no intention of abandoning that foreign residence, and

3.     will visit the US temporarily.

To apply for a B1/B2 visa you must appear for an interview at a local Embassy or Consulate. You will be required to explain the purpose of the proposed trip to the USA and explain what ties to you to your home country including a home or a job to return to after the brief trip to the US. Often, the verbal interview is a very important part of the application process but the applicant may bring documentation to demonstrate the purpose of the US visit and their ties to their home country.

Various Types of B-1 Business Visitor Visas

There are many types of B-1 Business visas that allow foreign nationals to enter the US to engage in various activities. The B-1 in Lieu of H-1B visa is an example of a type of B-1 Business Visitor visa.

B-1 in Lieu of H-1B: This visa allows certain employees of foreign countries to enter the US who would otherwise qualify for the H-1B Professional Worker visa but do not have a US employer. An applicant for this type of visa will need to show they are employed by a foreign employer and must go to the US to provide professional services to a customer or client in the US and that the person has the equivalent of a minimum of a US bachelor’s degree in a specific field. The applicant may not receive a salary or remuneration other than an expense or allowance or other reimbursement from a US company.

The information above is for informational purposes only and is no indication of likelihood of success or whether a person is admissible to the US.


US Family & Marriage Visa Categories

US family and marriage-based immigrant visa categories are divided in two ways. Immediate relatives who are the spouses, children and parents of US citizens have an unlimited number of immigrant visas available to them whereas those who are related to Lawful Permanent Residents (a.k.a. “green card” holders) and adult children or siblings of US citizens must wait for a visa number to become available to them which results in a backlog requiring sometimes many years of a wait to get a visa.

Immediate Relative US Visa Categories

There are an unlimited number of Immediate Relative immigrant visas available which means a US family visa is immediately available to those relatives listed below.

  • Spouse of a US Citizen.
  • Unmarried Child under the age 21 of a US Citizen.
  • Orphaned Child Adopted by a US Citizen.
  • Orphaned Child to be Adopted in the US by a US Citizen.
  • Parent of a child who is a US Citizen who is at least 21 years old.

The process to apply for an immigrant visa for an immediate relative requires the filing of a Petition for Alien Relative with the US Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS). Where the petition is filed depends largely on where the US citizen relative is currently living. For example, US citizens who have been residing in the United Kingdom for a period of at least six months and who either have dual British or European citizenship or a UK visa may file the family immigrant visa petition directly with the USCIS office within the US Embassy in London.

Family Preference Immigrant Visa Categories

In addition to the Immediate Relative immigrant visa categories, there are the Family Preference Immigrant Visas which are listed below. There are a limited number of these visas available which means that a certain family members cannot apply for an immigrant visa through a particular family relationship until an immigrant visa number is available to them. An immigrant visa number becomes available once the priority date, otherwise known as the date the sponsoring relative filed the Petition for Alien Relative, becomes current. Every month the US Department of State releases the current priority dates for all the immigrant visa categories.

  • Family First Preference: Unmarried sons and daughters of US Citizens, and their minor children, if any.
  • Family Second Preference: Spouses, minor children, and unmarried sons and daughters (aged 21 and over) of Lawful Permanent Residents (aka green card holders).
  • Family Third Preference: Married sons and daughters of US Citizens, and their spouses and minor children.
  • Family Fourth Preference: Brothers and sisters of US Citizens, and their spouses and minor children, provided the US Citizens are at least 21 years of age. Please note, there is more than a 10 year waiting period for an immigrant visa to become available to a sibling of a US citizen.



The United States has some of the best schools and universities in the world and gaining entrance into one can set a person up for a life time of success. If you have been accepted into a US program of study and you are able to demonstrate that you have funds available to pay for the course of study and your living expenses you may be issued an F-1 Student visa to study in the United States.

While most US educational institutions will provide foreign nationals with information on how to obtain a US student visa once they have been accepted into a degree course, if you have been accepted into a US course of study and require advice on how to obtain a US student visa, please contact the Law Office of Janice Flynn. We are unable to provide advice on how to obtain a placement at a US university.

F-1 Visa

This is the most common type of student visa. If you wish to engage in academic studies in the United States at an approved school, such as an accredited U.S. college or university, private secondary school, or approved English language program then you need an F-1 visa. You will also need an F-1 visa if your course of study is more than 18 hours a week.

M-1 Visa

If you plan to engage in non-academic or vocational study or training at a U.S. institution then you need an M-1 visa.

More information about each of these visas and opportunities for studying in the United States can be found at the Education USA **BROKENLINK

E-1 Treaty Trader Visa Requirements

The E-1 Treaty Trader visa may not be used as much as the E-2 Treaty Investor visa but if all the conditions are met it can be a useful visa category for small, medium and large companies who have significant trade with the US and need to have key staff in the US.

E-2 Treaty Investor VIsa

The E-2 Treaty Investor visa is an ideal solution for a wide variety of businesses who have made substantial investment into the development of a US business, from very large multinational corporations to individual “mom & pop” investors. Those who wish to go to the US to invest in and develop an American business may use the E-2 visa.

The E-2 Treaty Investor may be a foreign company or an individual owner or group of owners of a company investing in the development of a new US enterprise or an individual or a group of individuals purchasing an existing US business.

The E-2 Treaty Investor visa is available to nationals whose country has a qualifying treaty of friendship, commerce and navigation or a bilateral investment treaty with the United States.

EB-5 Immigrant Visa - US Investor Green Card

Foreign nationals are able to obtain permanent residency or a green card through investment in a business in the US. This applies to those who have invested at least $1 million or $500,000 in a high-unemployment area into a US business that will employ at least 10 US workers. The investment may be made into a business that is purchased or a newly created business in the US or through investment into a Regional Centre.

The most common employment-based (EB) immigrant visa categories include:

EB-1 Extraordinary Ability or Multinational Executive

Those with extraordinary ability in the arts, business, sciences or athletics which can be demonstrated by sustained national or international acclaim and whose achievements have been recognized in the field may apply for permanent residency as a self-petitioner or through an employer.

A multinational executive may be sponsored for permanent residency if the executive is or was transferred to the US office after working with a related company for at least one year in the last three in an executive or managerial capacity.

EB-2 Advanced Degree or Exceptional Ability

Those applying for US permanent residency through the EB-2 immigrant visa category must be sponsored by a US employer who has obtained a Labor Certification for the position from the US Department of Labor unless the applicant qualifies for a National Interest Waiver.

To qualify under the Advanced Degree category the applicant must demonstrate that the requirements of the position offered in the US requires at least a US masters degree or higher or a bachelors degree plus five years of progressive work experience in a particular field and that the applicant holds this qualification.

Those with a degree of expertise significantly above that ordinarily encountered may qualify for permanent residency through the EB-2 immigrant visa category if the applicant can show at least three of the following:

  1. Degree relating to area of exceptional ability;
  2. Letter from current or former employer showing at least 10 years of experience;
  3. License to practice profession;
  4. Person has commanded a salary or remuneration demonstrating exceptional ability;
  5. Recognition for achievements and significant contributions to the industry or field by peers, governmental entities, or professional or business organizations.

EB-3 Professional or Skilled Worker

This category requires that the employer first obtain a Labor Certification from the US Department of Labor which requires a recruitment test of the employment market to determine if there are qualified, willing and able US workers who could fill the position.

A professional worker is one who has been offered a position that requires at least a bachelor's degree in a specialized field.

A skilled worker is one who has been offered a position that requires at least two years of experience in the particular field.