All visa candidates must be supported by a qualified sponsor like a legitimate employer or a legitimate relative, and legitimacy requires citizenship. The United States issues nearly 200 different types of visas which fit into two major categories of status, immigrant and non-immigrant. Immigrant visas allow permanent residency in the United States, and non-immigrant visas allow temporary residency in the country.
Immigrant visa candidates apply for a fairly general list of requirements that are mostly divided into two subcategories, immediate relative and family-sponsored and employer sponsored. These visas are designed to bring or keep families together and to support specific workforces. Spouses, intended spouses, other family members, and children adopted from other countries fit into this category. Some of the work visas can be more specific such as immigrants with advanced degrees who work for the United States government.
These visas apply to particular people (like Australian professional specialty or Border Crossing Card for Mexicans), particular purposes (like educational, professional, or cultural exchange or health and care procedures), or particular people who work for particular sponsors (like North American Free Trade Agreement workers from Mexico and Canada and Free Trade Agreement professionals from Singapore and Chile).
Many non-immigrant visas are very specific to a particular hierarchy, take visas for athletes for example. Professional and amateur athletes from other countries need visas in order to compete in the United States. Their visa statuses reflect the type of athlete that they are as well as the level of competition for their particular sport.
- B-2 – amateur athletes who compete in events that offer no prize money and are visitors of pleasure
- B-1 – professional athletes who compete for prize money only and are visitors of business
- P-1 – athletes who are internationally recognized and are competing in a reputable distinguished sporting event
- O-1 – athletes with extraordinary abilities that put them at elite status in their respective sport