In order to stay in the United States legally, there are number of hurdles that immigrants have to jump over as they navigate the law. When looking to come into the US legally, you have the option between different visas through the US immigration services. Broadly speaking there are immigrant visas and non-immigrant visas. Those are then broken up into different types of visas depending on your individual circumstances. In order to come into the country you’ll first have to decide which visa to choose. While the process may be slightly intimidating, the differences outlined here can help you decide what visa is best for you.
Immigrant Visa Information
An immigrant visa is a visa for those people looking to move permanently to the US. In order to obtain a visa you’ll first have to petition the US Citizenship and Immigration Services. During this step you’ll be allowed to apply for the immigrant visa. When your application is approved, your petition will be passed along to the National Visa Center where it will be processed. From there the Center will give you instructions about what forms you’ll need to fill out, what fees have to be paid, and any other required documents that will be necessary to complete your visa application. If you run into trouble as you try to obtain your immigrant visa you can contact an immigration lawyer, through places like Hirson Immigration, a law firm dedicated to immigration law.
The immigrant visa is broken up into four major categories that you’ll be able to choose from: Immediate Relatives, Special Immigrants, Family-sponsored, and Employer-sponsored. The Immediate Relatives category refers to spouses, unmarried children under the age of 21-years-old, and parents of a US citizen. Siblings, aunts, uncles, nieces, or nephews aren’t considered immediate relatives. Family-sponsored visas are available to immigrants who are being sponsored by a family member who is already a US citizen or permanent resident. In order to sponsor a relative, the person must have enough income or personal assets in order to support their relative. The Employer-sponsored visa is for those people who have a permanent job opportunity in the US along with an employer who is willing to sponsor them for permanent residency. Finally, a Special Immigrants visa is a specific visa that is only issued to certain foreign nationals who fit a specific set of criteria regarding Iraqi or Afghani translators or other workers who worked on behalf of the US government. Only 50 of these visas are issued a year.
Non-immigrant Visa Information
The other available visa is the non-immigrant visa. This is a visa for temporary visitors who aren’t planning to stay in the country. This visa is necessary to travel through a US port-of-entry. Temporary visa holders usually come to the US for tourism, business matters, medical treatment, temporary work, or for schooling. There are specific visas that should be filled out depending on your reasons for travelling to the US so you’ll have to figure out which visa is right for you.
Some visitors that come from a country on the Visa Waiver Program and won’t need a specific visa to come into the country as long as they meet certain requirements. There are 36 countries included in the VWP, including Andorra, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brunei, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Monaco, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, San Marino, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom. Similarly, citizens from Canada, Mexico, and Bermuda are allowed visa-free travel under the Immigration and Nationality Act.
These are the main differences between the major visas that are available to immigrants. Remember, if you need any help deciding between forms, filling out forms, or filing your documents, you can speak to an immigration lawyer that is experienced with these matters.