Comprehensive Guide to US Student and Employment Visas



Understanding the various types of visas for studying and working in the United States is crucial for international students and professionals. This blog provides an overview of the different visa categories and their specific requirements. We advise you to book session with a career counselling expert for a deeper understanding.

  • US Student Visa – 

  • Students must possess a student visa to travel to the USA for study. Your course of study and type of school determines 
    1. Type F – to study in university or college, high school, private elementary school, seminary, conservatory or another academic institution (including a language training institution)
    2. M type – To study in a vocational or other recognized academic institution, other than a language training institution. 
  • Students must apply to a SEVP-approved school first. If SEVP school accepts the enrolment, the student is registered for SEVIS. This requires fee payment. The school issues an I-20 form. 
  • After the student registers into SEVIS and also gets the I-20 form, she can apply to the US embassy for a student (F or M) Visa. The student must present the I-20 form to the counsel officer during the Visa interview. 
  • To apply for a Visa interview, students must complete the DS-160 form (online non-immigrant visa application form). Visa interviews are generally not required below 13 years or above 80 years of age. In between, they are generally required barring a few exceptions or renewals. Students should be aware of wait times in different embassy locations and may require an application many months before. 
  • For new students, Visa can be issued up to 365 days before the start date of the course. Entry shall not be allowed 30 days before the start of the course. For continuing students, a VISA can be issued at any time, as long as they are registered into the SEVP-approved institution and in SEVIS.
  • Optional Practical Training - Students who are authorized Optional Practical Training (OPT) must have a Form I-20 endorsed for OPT and must apply to USCIS for an Employment Authorization Document (EAD). OPT is temporary employment that is directly related to the eligible F-1 student's area of study.
  • Exchange Visitor
  • Visitor B Visa - Visitor B Visa permits enrolment in a short recreational course of study that does not credit toward a degree or certificate program. 
  • Employment Visa – 

  • Temporary employment Visa
    1. H1B – Person in special occupation – At least bachelor’s degree or equivalent experience in the occupation
    2. L – Intra-company transferee - For applicants working in a managerial or executive capacity; or applicants working in a position requiring specialized knowledge. The petitioner must be a branch, parent, affiliate, or subsidiary of the applicant’s current employer. Applicants must have worked for the same employer abroad for 1 year within the three preceding years.
  • Exchange visitor Visa –Exchange visitor (J) visas are nonimmigrant visas for individuals approved to participate in exchange visitor programs in the United States. Some categories include – 
    1. Intern - Internship programs are designed to allow foreign college and university students or recent graduates to come to the United States to gain exposure to U.S. culture and to receive hands-on experience in U.S. business practices in their chosen occupational field.
    2. College & University students - Foreign students have the opportunity to study at American degree-granting post-secondary accredited academic institutions or participate in a student internship program that will fulfil the educational objectives of the student’s degree program in his or her home country.
    3. Summer work travel - College and University students enrolled full-time and pursuing studies at post-secondary accredited academic institutions located outside the United States come to the United States to share their culture and ideas with people of the United States through temporary work and travel opportunities.
  • Employment-based immigrant visa – 

  • Employment First Preference (E1): 
    1. Priority Worker and Persons of Extraordinary Ability - Persons with extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics. Applicants in this category must have extensive documentation showing sustained national or international acclaim and recognition in their fields of expertise. Such applicants do not have to have specific job offers, so long as they are entering the U.S. to continue work in the fields in which they have extraordinary ability
    2. Outstanding professors and researchers with at least three years experience in teaching or research, who are recognized internationally - Applicants in this category must be coming to the U.S. to pursue tenure, tenure track teaching, or a comparable research position at a university or other institution of higher education. 
    3. Multinational managers or executives who have been employed for at least one of the three preceding years by the overseas affiliate, parent, subsidiary, or branch of the U.S. employer. The applicant’s employment outside of the U.S. must have been in a managerial or executive capacity, and the applicant must be coming to work in a managerial or executive capacity.
  • Employment Second Preference (E2):Professionals Holding Advanced Degrees and Persons of Exceptional AbilityThey receive 28.6 per cent of the yearly worldwide limit of employment-based immigrant visas, plus any unused visas from the Employment First Preference category. There are two subgroups within this category:
    1. Professionals holding an advanced degree (beyond a baccalaureate degree), or a baccalaureate degree and at least five years of progressive experience in the profession.
    2. Persons with exceptional ability in the sciences, arts, or business. Exceptional ability means having a degree of expertise significantly above that ordinarily encountered in the sciences, arts, or business.
  • Employment Third Preference (E3): Skilled Workers, Professionals, and Unskilled Workers (Other Workers) Skilled Workers, Professionals, and Unskilled Workers (Other Workers) receive 28.6 per cent of the yearly worldwide limit of employment-based immigrant visas, plus any unused visas from the Employment First Preference and Second Preference categories. There are three subgroups within this category:
    1. Skilled workers are persons whose jobs require a minimum of 2 years of training or work experience that are not temporary or seasonal.
    2. Professionals are members of the professions whose jobs require at least a baccalaureate degree from a U.S. university or college or its foreign equivalent degree.
    3. Unskilled workers (Other workers) are persons capable of filling positions that require less than two years of training or experience that are not temporary or seasonal.
  • Employment Fourth Preference (E4):Certain Special Immigrants - Special Immigrants receive 7.1 per cent of the yearly worldwide limit of employment-based immigrant visas. 
  • Employment Fifth Preference (E5): Immigrant Investors - Immigrant Investor visa categories are for capital investment by foreign investors in new commercial enterprises in the United States which provide job creation. 


Navigating the U.S. visa system requires careful consideration of eligibility criteria and application processes tailored to each visa category. Whether pursuing education, professional development, or employment opportunities, consulting with legal experts can streamline the journey to obtaining the right visa for your goals.