Two classes of visas are processed by U.S. Consulates abroad: immigrants and non-immigrants.
PERMANENT RESIDENCE – IMMIGRANT VISAS
To qualify for permanent residence, an applicant must have or be one of the following:
• A spouse or minor child of a U.S. citizen;
• A parent, adult child or sibling of an adult U.S. citizen;
• A spouse or minor child of a legal permanent resident;
• An employee that a U.S. employer has received approval from the
Department of Labor to hire;
• A person of extraordinary or exceptional ability;
• A refugee or asylee fleeing persecution; or
• An approved application in the visa lottery.
A personal interview for permanent residence is normally required before a U.S. Consul who will examine eligibility as well as confirming that the applicant is not inadmissible for an aggravated felony, or a prior order of deportation or for public health reasons, or for suspected terrorism.
TEMPORARY ENTRIES – NON IMMIGRANTS
Admissions on a temporary basis are usually referred to by letters and numerals such as B-2 (tourists), E-1 and E-2 (treaty traders and treaty investors), F-1 (students), H-1B (temporary professionals), J-1 (cultural exchange visitors), K-1 (fiancés of citizens), L-1 (intra-company transferees), etc. These non-immigrants must satisfy a Consul that they wish to enter the U.S. for a limited time and for a specific purpose. All non-immigrant applicants except (H-1) workers, intracompany transferees (L-1) and (V) family members must show that they are not coming to live here permanently.
Usually personal interviews are required.
Aliens coming as visitors from 27 countries such as Australia, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, New Zealand and Switzerland, are not required to obtain a visa from a U.S. Consulate abroad. These entrants are allowed entry for 3 months; extensions or change of status are not permitted unless the alien marries a U.S. citizen.