Our History with Visas

Coming to the United States is an exciting venture – and if you’re like most people, you know that you can benefit from working with a Texas visa lawyer to ensure you’re visiting in compliance with U.S. immigration law. 

Because there are so many visa categories, and because it’s essential that you enter the United States under the appropriate type of visa, it may be in your best interest to get in touch with a Houston immigration attorney who can help ensure you’re taking all the right steps to enter the country legally.

What is a Visa in Immigration?

All foreign nationals entering the United States are supposed to have a visa. 

A visa is authorization from the U.S. government to come into the country and perform specific activities, such as visiting, working or attending school. 

Generally, you must apply for a visa before you enter the country (unless you’re entering as an asylee). 

Immigration officers who work at border crossings, airports and boat terminals are authorized to turn people away, so it’s always a good idea to carry your paperwork with you.

We are your business immigration attorneys of choice in Houston and surrounding areas.

What Visa Do You Need?

Types of Immigration Visas

There are two major types of visas available to people who want to come to the United States: nonimmigrant and immigrant. 

Nonimmigrant visas are available to people who want to enter the U.S. on a short-term, temporary basis, while immigrant visas are for people who intend to live and work for a long time – or even permanently – in the U.S.

Within those two types of visas, there are several categories, ranging from leisure travel and study to marriage and business.

List of Visa Categories

Nonimmigrant visas are usually for temporary stays that last less than a few years. With these visas, the purpose for your travel determines which visa category you need. The table below outlines some of the most common nonimmigrant visas people use to enter the United States.

Purpose of Travel

Visa Category

Work as an au pair in an exchange visitor capacity


Business visitor on a business trip




Diplomat or foreign government official


Domestic employee or nanny who is accompanying a foreign national employer


Employee of a designated international organization or NATO


Exchange visitor


Foreign national with extraordinary abilities in science, the arts, education, business or athletics


International cultural exchange visitor


Intra-company transferees


Medical treatment-seeking visitors


Media workers


Performing artists, athletes and entertainers




Professors, scholars and teachers


Religious workers



F or M

Specialty occupations


Temporary agricultural workers


Temporary worker performing labor that’s temporary or seasonal in nature




Training in a non-employment program


Treaty traders and treaty investors


Victims of criminal activity


Victims of human trafficking


Spouses and children of lawful permanent residents


If you or your family members has been put into deportation processing, you should find experienced counsel to help

Immigrant visas are a bit different because they’re reserved for people who are coming to the United States to live or work for longer periods – or even permanently. There are several categories of immigrant visas for these people, as well, and they’re outlined in the table below. These visas are determined by the relationship the beneficiary (the non-U.S. national) has to the sponsor (the U.S. citizen, lawful permanent resident or employer).

Relationship to Sponsor

Visa Category

Spouse of a U.S. citizen

IR1, CR1 or K-3

Fiancé of a U.S. citizen who needs a visa to marry and live in the U.S.


Orphans adopted by U.S. citizens


Family members of U.S. citizens

IR, CR or F

Family members of lawful permanent residents


Employees who are priority workers, professionals holding advanced degrees and persons of exceptional ability, professionals and other workers


Investors (self-sponsored)


Religious workers


Iraqi and Afghan translators and interpreters (self-sponsored)


Iraqis and Afghans who worked for or on behalf of the U.S. government (self-sponsored)


Diversity immigrants (self-sponsored)


Returning residents (self-sponsored)


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Who Qualifies for a Visa to Enter the United States?

Each visa has its own requirements, but generally speaking, you or your sponsor must:

U.S. Visa Attorneys

There are some things that will prevent the U.S. government from approving your visa. Some of the most common grounds for inadmissibility (reasons to keep someone from coming to the United States) include:

What is a Public Charge?

The government is likely to deny your visa petition if it believes you are likely to become a public charge. A public charge is someone who must depend on government assistance to live. If the immigration official handling your file believes you are likely to become a public charge, he or she can issue a denial. Government assistance means programs like:

What Can You Do if U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Denies a Visa Petition?

In some cases, you can appeal a USCIS decision you don’t agree with. You may be able to reapply for your visa, as well. However, that’s not always the case. If USCIS has denied your visa petition, it’s a good idea to talk to an attorney about your situation. There may be a simple solution, such as providing more current information or reapplying at a later date.

Business Visas to the United States

Companies that want to bring in foreign workers can often apply for visas on behalf of those workers. 

Likewise, foreign companies with headquarters abroad can send workers to the United States on specific visas to open branch offices and affiliates here in the U.S. 

However, business immigration can be incredibly complicated – and in addition to employees meeting specific conditions, companies must meet certain requirements, as well. 

Visa Lawyers in Texas

It’s important to work with an experienced and knowledgeable business immigration attorney if you intend to bring or send workers to the United States. Your lawyer can keep you up-to-date on business immigration laws and how they apply to your company and workers, and he or she can help ensure your business remains in compliance with immigration and labor laws.

Who Does Not Need a Visa for Tourism or Business?

Some people don’t need a visa to come to the United States for business or pleasure. There are 39 countries that participate in the U.S.’s Visa Waiver Program, and under many circumstances, you can come to the U.S. without a visa at all. However, you must have an e-Passport and obtain travel authorization prior to your trip.

Do You Need to Talk to a Houston Visa Attorney About Obtaining a Visa?

For most people, working with an attorney is the simplest way to apply for a U.S. visa. Your attorney can answer all your questions, ensure you’re getting the right type of visa for your needs, and fill out and file all your paperwork for you. If you’re interested in obtaining a visa, we may be able to help you. Call our offices today to schedule a free, one-hour consultation.

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