According to the United States Census Bureau, approximately 44 million first-generation (foreign-born) people currently live in the United States, comprising almost 14% of the total population. Whether you’re relocating with family for personal or career-related reasons, the United States has so much to offer you and your family.
In this guide, Loigica, Attorneys at Law, will show you how to live and work in the United States. We’ll cover all your immigration options, how to get started, and tips on how to maximize your chances of starting your pursuit of the American dream!
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Visiting as a Tourist
While the visits are temporary, obtaining a B-1 or B-2 will allow you to enter the US for tourism or business purposes. As such, you are free to legally travel throughout the country to visit our many national parks, metropolitan cities, and beautiful landmarks. Access includes the lower 48 states, as well as Hawaii and Alaska.
You can apply for a visitor visa by appointment at a US Embassy or Consulate Office. Complete the DS-160 nonimmigrant visa application and pay the applicable fees through the Electronic Application Center (EAC).
Differences Between B-1 and B-2 Visas
Here is an overview of each program at-a-glance:
- B-1 Temporary Business Visitor: Also known as the “business” visa, you can use the B-1 to conduct activities related to your business or profession. Examples of qualifying activities include contract negotiations, worksite tours, and interviewing potential job candidates.
- B-2 Temporary Tourist Visitor: Also known as the “tourist” visa, you can obtain a B-2 to visit the United States for personal reasons. Examples of qualifying activities include general tourism, meeting family, and receiving medical treatment.
In general, you can stay in the US for up to six months on a tourist visa. However, the immigration officer assigned to your application can extend your stay for longer if you have a legitimate need to stay – such as completing a work training course or wanting to take an extended, organized tour.
Requesting an extension may require additional documentation and evidence to satisfy the program guidelines. Working with a qualified immigration lawyer will help you navigate this process.
Obtaining a B Visitor Visa
Getting a B visitor visa simply requires you to apply with Form DS -160.
To get a visitor visa, you’ll need to:
1. Complete the application
2. Provide all passport and contact information
3. Select whether you want regular or premium processing
4. Pay the $160 processing fee
5. Submit supporting documentation
Documents you need to provide include a valid passport you have possessed for at least six months. You should also have a recent digital photograph with a plain, white background.
Upon completion, you will receive a confirmation via email regarding your visa interview date. If you have your itinerary, you should make that available to the immigration officer since proof of your reason for visiting will likely come up.
I Am Traveling to Study
The F student visa is for students who are taking a traditional full course load. Simply put, this means that you are working on a degree full-time at an accredited university in the United States.
The M student visa is an excellent alternative for students who want to engage in a vocational program. For example, students attending flight schools in the United States make excellent candidates for this position.
In contrast to the F visa, you do not have permission to work while pursuing your training. Even upon graduation, the opportunity to work is limited when compared to the F visa class.
How to Get a USA Student Visa
Applying for an F or M student visa starts by filing Form DS-160 online alongside a submission of your photo ID. You will also need to arrange for an interview with the nearest US consulate. The filing fee alone is USD 160.00.
Student visas are highly competitive. The first eliminations are generally handed to those with incomplete or incorrect applications.
I Am an Investor/Trader
The E-1 visa is reserved for international traders, while the E-2 visa is for foreign investors. Australians can take advantage of the E-3 visa if they are part of the specialized workforce.
E1 Visas : Trader Visas
Traders are those who carry significant principal trade-in goods, technologies, or services between their home country and the United States. Trade is the international exchange of products and services.
Therefore, this program caters to individuals who have sizable and continuous outputs of trade items that
- International banking
- Transfer of technology
- Certain news-reporting activities
E-1 visas apply to traders and their qualified employees, so as long as the events taking place are approved. There are few exclusions to this rule when performing work for a subsidiary company.
If your trade or employment status changes, you must notify USCIS of your new classification along with the applicable fees.
E-2 Visas : Investor Visas
If you are profoundly and financially invested in a US business, then you should apply for the E-2 visa. It is also known as the “investor visa.” The company must meet specific requirements in that it is commercial in nature and can generate substantial profits.
If you want to enter the country on an E-2 visa, then you must be in a position of managerial or directorial control. At a minimum, you must possess at least 50 percent ownership in the company.
The reason for this requirement is that the investor must demonstrate a substantial commitment to the organization’s success while bearing the element of commercial risk.
E-3 Visas: Australian Speciality Workers
In this section, it is essential to recognize that the E-3 visa is different from E-2 and E-1 options in that it is reserved for specialty workers from Australia. Therefore, it is not to be confused for a trader or investor program.
The E-3 visa requires you to be an Australian citizen who works in a specialty occupation. A specialty occupation is one that is defined as requiring the application of a specialized body of knowledge and a bachelor’s degree or higher.
I Am a Worker in a
Specialty Skill Field
H visa options are an excellent solution for foreign specialty workers who want to work in the United States temporarily. It is also a prospect to create a stepping stone toward permanent residency.
What Is an H-1B Visa?
The H-1B visa is a special permit for foreign Nationals to work legally in the United States for a specific period. The designation reserved for those who work in specialty occupations.
You can hold H-1B visa status for a maximum of six years with an extension in increments of three years by United States Customs and Immigration Services (USCIS). Individual circumstances will allow employees to stay longer than the mandated six years as long as he or she is in the process of seeking permanent residency, also known as green card status.
The United States limits the number of visa issuance every year to 85,000. However, 20,000 of these visas stay reserved for those who have a Master’s degree or higher from a US accredited learning institution. The number limit is known as the H-1B visa cap.
What Is an H-3 visa?
An H-3 visa falls under the H visa program. This particular category allows immigrants coming to into the United States to enter as either a trainee or for graduate or medical training. The caveat is that said training must not be available in your home country.
Eligibility for the H-3 visa program, a trainee must be invited by a US organization. Since the training is beyond the scope of regular employment, it is a program generally reserved for specialized fields.
These fields include:
- And more
It is not a program designed for US employment; instead, it is precisely for training performed outside of the US. However, there are valuable benefits to be gleaned just the same as the H-1B visa.
The most significant difference is that one is for work, and the other is for training. While the H-1B visa holds a quota limit on the number the US will issue, there is no limit with which you must contend on an H-3 visa.
I Am an Employee
at an International
The L-1 visas are for non-immigrants who work for companies overseas that wish to transfer the employee to the United States. There are two different forms of L-1 visa schemes: L-1A and L-1B visas.
It is a chance for foreign employees of US-based companies, business owners, or skilled workers to gain employment and immigration protections temporarily with the possibility of permanent
While both programs have numerous similarities, there are plenty of differences as well. Understanding what they are will help you make a more informed choice as to what plan will be right for you.
Differences between L-1A and L-1B visas
L-1A visas are designed for executives and managers, whereas L-1B visas are for people with specialized skills.
The L-1A visa lasts longer than the L-1B. You can stay in the United States for up to seven years on an L-1A and five years on an L-1B.
If your spouse qualifies for an L-1A or L-1B visa, then he or she can work while accompanying you to the US.
There is a possibility to receive permanent residence status after gaining an L-1 visa. The L-1A scheme does not require PERM labor certification approval, whereas the L-1B visa does.
I Am an Athlete or
The P visa is an excellent immigration entry choice to the US if you are a foreign athlete or an entertainer. While the O Visa also exists to help individuals in these industries, the qualification requirements are less strenuous.
Types of P Visas Available
Like other visa programs, United States Immigration and Customs Services (USCIS) partitions different sub-groups into different sections. This system helps in customizing the process to make sense for both the petitioner and the US government.
A P-1 visa is for internally known athletes. “Internationally known” needs to
be proven by submitting at least two of the following:
- A legitimate contract from a U.S. major sports team or league in the United States.
- Prior participation with a major sports league in the United States.
- Prior participation with a national team in international competition.
- Prior participation in an intercollegiate competition for a U.S. college.
- A letter from a head figure who is part of a major U.S. sports league.
- A document from a recognized expert in a sport, stating you are internationally recognized.
- International rankings for you or your team.
- Any major awards or honors given to you or the team.
P-2 visas are for entertainers and artists, such as musicians, bands, and other
performers. Again, “international recognition” must be proven by:
- Being outstanding in their sport for a sustained period of time.
- Proving at least 75% of the group’s members have a sustained relationship with the group for one year or longer and provide services that are integral to the performance of the whole group.
A P-3 visas are for culturally unique programs that coach, develop, or produce
P-4 visas are for spouses and dependents of P visa holders.
There are numerous types of artistic and athletic professionals residing outside of the US. They can come here to perform or work under the kind of visa they have. However, there are program requirements that you must follow, like every other visa program offered by USCIS.
I Am Possessing
Extraordinary Talent in
STEM or Business
If you are a business owner that wants to bring extraordinary talent to the US to work for you temporarily, then the O visa is a perfect solution worth considering.
Since the arrangement is short term, they are generally reserved for people with extraordinary talents or abilities. These individuals can come work for you without as much red tape as traditional visa programs, such as the H-1B.
United States Customs and Immigration Services (USCIS) does not put a cap—or visa quota—on the number of O visas it issues, making it an excellent option for those who need to migrate quickly.
Qualifying for an O Visa
The O visa typically applies to those with extraordinary ability. That term sounds ambiguous and confusing – and you are not alone in this sentiment!
How USCIS Defines “Extraordinary Ability“:
- An individual with a demonstrated talent considered to be exceptional.
- An individual with a demonstrated talent considered to be exceptional.
- Those who are in the arts can apply for an O-1B visa.
The term “demonstrated exceptional talent” refers to the level of excellence that you have achieved. It must place you in the top percentile among all other peers in your field.
For example, if a person wins an industry accolade for solving renewable energy problems, and wants to come to the United States, then he or she would most likely qualify with supporting evidence.
Some of the greatest minds never went to college or graduate school. One of the most significant advantages of the O visa is that you do not have to have a degree from a higher learning institute.
I Am the Fiancé of a
The K-1 visa allows the engaged partner of a U.S. citizen to enter the United States legally. Also known as the “fiancé visa,” this option is perfect for keeping couples together during the immigration process – as long as they are married no more than 90 days after entry.
Like all US immigration applications, there is significant a significant documentation process involved. An experienced, qualified immigration lawyer will help you assemble the required documentation and evidence so that your application is accurate and thorough – lessening the likelihood of delay due to application errors.
Required Documents for the K Visa Application
Like all US immigration applications, there is significant a significant documentation process involved.
When you or your fiancé and any dependents apply for a K visa, the following forms & paperwork must be supplied during the interview:
- Form DS-160 for a nonimmigrant visa application completed
- Form I-134 for the affidavit of financial support completed
- Form I-29F for the petition for alien fiancé
- Your fiancé’s passport
- Death or divorce certificates of previous spouses
- Police certificates
- Medical examination confirmation
- Two photographs that meet the requirements
- Evidence of your relationship
- Payment of fiancé visa fees
It is not unusual for the embassy or consular’s office to request more information, such as photographs to verify the authenticity of your relationship. Public documents, like divorce and birth certificates, will require a certified translation, as well.
I Am Interested
in Becoming a Permanent
Permanent residency in the United States is given to those wishing to live and work here legally. Also known as a “green card,” the steps you must take to apply for this status will vary depending on your individual situation. Sometimes, the waiting process can take years!
Understanding the United States’ immigrant visa preference categories is essential. These groupings govern how long you have to wait to receive a green card in the USA.
Some green cards are “easier” to obtain than others, especially if demand is low. For others, it can take decades for open slots to become available.
Like all US immigration applications, there is significant a significant documentation process involved.
- Spouses and children of US citizens can receive a Green Card. In addition to immediate family members, your fiancé can enter on a K-1, or fiancé visa.
Family Green Cards
Employment Green Cards
- The easiest way to receive permanent resident status is through an employer, or EB, visa. If you are a skilled employer with a qualifying job offer, you can quickly obtain a Green Card.
Special Immigrant Green Cards
- Religious workers, international broadcasters, and retired foreign officers can obtain Green Card status in the USA as a special immigrant.
Refugee Green Cards
- If you were granted refugee or asylum status at least one year ago, you can apply for a refugee green card for permanent residency.
- For individuals who resided in the United States before January 1, 1972, you may be entitled to receive a green card.
Registry Green Cards
Depending on the type of green card you wish to obtain, there are different application guidelines and processing requirements to meet. Increasing your chances of receiving a green card the first time around starts by applying for the program for which you qualify.
I Am Interested in
Also called the Application for Naturalization, the N-400 form is the official application you should use to apply for US citizenship.
You or your immigration lawyer will file this form with US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). It is the first step toward naturalization and becoming an American citizen.
You can apply for citizenship in the United States depending upon several factors related to your current situation. For instance, the amount of time you have held a green card, lived in the US, or served in the military are all taken into consideration.
If you’ve just received your green card, you’ll need to wait five years from the issue date for the opportunity to apply for citizenship.
Green card holders married to US citizens must wait three years from the issue date.
For military service members, you can apply for naturalization after five years if you served at least one year of peacetime and have lived in the US for at least two-and-a-half years. However, if your military service lasts for at least one year, you can apply for citizenship within six months of discharge or on active duty.
Obtaining Citizenship Through One’s Parents
Your child can obtain citizenship through you if you are a US citizen, as long as the minor is under the age of 18. Qualifying for naturalization in this manner is available to both children residing inside and outside of the United States.
The most significant requirement is that of having at least one parent, including an adoptive one, who is a US citizen through birthright or naturalization. You must also have legal, physical custody of him or her as well
Partner With A Law
Firm By Immigrants,
This guide is meant to provide an introduction to the pathway to citizenship in the U.S. Make sure to learn more about the legal options available for your specific situation by contacting an experienced immigration attorney. The legal team at Loigica, Attorneys at Law, is standing by to help with a free consultation. We’re a firm built by immigrants, for immigrants.
Having an immigration attorney on your side can help by:
- Answering questions and guiding the process
- Discussing expectations for lottery selection
- Accurately completing the Labor Conditions Application
- Filing the H-1B Visa Petition with supporting documentation
- Strategically responding to USCIS evidence requests
- Following up on petition reviews and lottery results
At Loigica, PA, we have extensive experience working for both applicants and companies.
About Our Firm
Loigica is a bilingual, multicultural immigration law firm located in the heart of Miami, with offices in Bogota and Barcelona. We are immigrants for immigrants, who will always have an experienced, compassionate attorney on your case to ensure the best possible outcome.
With deep experience and knowledge on how Latin American businesses operate, we’re able to offer cutting edge legal counsel for business immigration, start-ups, and international development opportunities.
Over the years, we have worked with foreign investors, tech companies, app developers, and a wide range of other organizations. Reach out to us today to help us make your dream of moving to
America a reality.
Request a free consultation with our legal team today by calling +1 (786) 292-9704 or sending us a message through our private contact form.