Millions of individuals migrate to the United States each year. Some people are attempting to become permanent residents, while others are migrating temporarily for a specific business purpose. If you are the citizen of a foreign country and you intend to enter the United States temporarily or permanently, you will need to apply for a visa. United States Immigration Law will define the type of visa needed for permanent or temporary travel. Most visas are assigned based on your travel needs. The Department of Homeland Security and Customs Border Protection will review your visa at a port of entry and determine if you are allowed to enter the country. A United States visas will not guarantee you entry into the United States. The following information will provide a broad definition of each type of visa.

Permanent Resident Visas

If you are seeking permanent residence in the United States you will need to obtain an immigrant visa or permanent resident visa. The United States government will issue a limited number of permanent resident visas each year. Certain individuals who are refugees or relatives of other United States citizens may be exempt from limitation rules. In most cases a lawful permanent resident will have the opportunity to bring their spouse and their children to the United States.

To be eligible you must meet the following criterion:

  • Your relative must be a permanent resident and provide the appropriate legal documentation for their status.
  • They must sign an affidavit of support to provide financial assistance to you at 125% above the mandatory poverty line.
  • You must be a family member of the sponsoring United States citizen in one of the following categories: husband or wife, unmarried child under the age of 21, Married son or daughter of any age. If the sponsor is 21 years of old you can be the brother or sister. Or parent if the sponsor is at least 21 years of age.

Visa Waiver Program

Under certain conditions a national of certain countries may apply for the Visa Waiver Program and be able to travel in the United States for personal or business reasons for up to ninety days without obtaining a visa. The VWP or Visa Waiver Program was instituted in 1986 to help the tourism industry and eliminate difficult barriers to travel. Not all countries currently participate in the VWP program. A country which participates in the program must work with the United States to maintain the appropriate security standards and border control requirements.

Temporary Visas

If you are attempting to go the United States on a temporary basis you can apply for a nonimmigrant visa. There are a variety of temporary visas and they generally are granted based on the purpose of your travel. Temporary visas can be for business, medical assistance, study or tourism. If you are applying for a non immigrant visa you may be asked to provide information to insure that you are not attempting to stay in the United States permanently. Fulfilling all the requirements and providing all the documentation will not ensure you will be assigned a visa. In most cases a temporary visa will be issued for up to six months. The United States does not have a limit on the amount of temporary visas they currently issue. The INS has the authority to deny entry at the border if they think the person may be trying to stay in the United States permanently, if they are carrying a communicable disease of if they are guilty of politically subversive actions against the United States.

Types of Temporary Visas

Student Visas

There are two nonimmigrant visa categories for all students who want to study in the United States. There is the "F" visa for academic students and the "M" visa for vocational students. To enter the United States under either the F or M visa a student must meet the following criterion:

  • They must be enrolled in some type of academic educational program approved by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (generally a school operated as a public educational institution) and be a full-time student.
  • The student must be enrolled in an English course or be proficient in English.
  • The student must be able to support themselves financially.

Work Visa

If you wish to work in the United States on a temporary basis you may be able to get a specific type of visa based on the type of work you are performing. The Immigration and Nationality Act has outlined the types of visas available. There may be annual limits on the amount of individuals allowed to work in the United States under certain classifications. Temporary visas can be acquired for domestic helpers (B-1, A-3 and G-5), exchange workers (J), journalist and media personnel (I), religious workers (R), internships, government officials (A and G), athletes and artists (P1-P3) and other specialty occupations (E-1 thru E).

H-1B Visa

If you are a worker employed in a profession that requires a specialized knowledge base and need to be employed temporarily you may be able to gain a H-1B visa. Examples of this can include government research and development. To hire a worker from outside the United States an employer must contact the Department of Labor and file a labor condition application.

H-1C, H-2A, H-2B, H-3 Visa are used for foreign nurses who perform medical service in certain areas. H-2A visa can be obtained for agricultural workers who work on a seasonal basis and H2-B visas are used for temporary nonagricultural workers. To obtain an H-2B visa you must have approval from the Secretary of Labor. An H-3 visa is for training in any field other than academic or medical fields.

How Can an Immigration Attorney Help Me?

Immigration issues can be complex and may require expert assistance to resolve. Immigration issues are personal and sensitive. An immigration attorney can provide a variety of services for you. They may be able to assist in completing documents, providing embassy support, helping prepare you for interviews and resolving problems. An expert immigration attorney has years of experience dealing with immigration issues and can help you resolve your immigration issues quickly and easily.

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