Emigrating to America
The U.S. uses a point-based system to categorise immigrants and travellers. The eligibility of an applicant depends on several factors, including their level of education, their nationality and work experience.
In other words, for a person with no specialised skills or expertise, family connections or a considerable capital to invest in the US., moving to America may be a long and time-consuming procedure.
If you wish to relocate to the USA, our experienced immigration lawyers can assist you and your family, or your business. We offer a comprehensive range of emigration services to help you navigate the best route to make your American dream come true.
Moving to the USA from the UK
Based on U.S. immigration law, there are two categories of visas: immigrant and nonimmigrant.
Immigrant visas are issued only to eligible foreign nationals who intend to live permanently in the country. Nonimmigrant visas are for those who are entering the U.S. temporarily (i.e. for tourism or for receiving medical treatment).
Immigrant visa holders must plan to become lawful permanent residents once their permit is expired or renewed. Non-immigrant nationals are required to prove their intention of going back home at the end of their authorised stay.
Can I travel to the U.S. without a visa?
The USCIS (U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services) allows certain foreign applicants to travel to the United States without a visa. This is known as the Visa Waiver Program (WMP), and it is dedicated to nationals of specific countries (including the United Kingdom) who can be admitted into the country for up to 90 days for business or pleasure purposes. Eligible travellers do not need to apply for an immigrant visa before they cross the U.S. borders. However, they will not be allowed to settle in the country nor remain for more than 90 days.
VWP visitors must provide a round-trip ticket to demonstrate their intention to not remain in the U.S. Also, they will not be allowed to apply to change their immigration status while in the country.
How can I become a U.S. permanent resident?
To become a lawful permanent resident of the United States, you must first obtain a Green Card. The most common paths to get this status are through employment or family sponsorship, especially for highly-skilled workers or immediate relatives of American citizens.
The first step in your application process to become a U.S. resident is to submit the Form I-130 (Petition for Alien Relative), if you have a family connection in the country, or I-140 (Petition for Alien Worker), if you have received a job offer from a U.S.-based company.
Once approved, your petition will be reviewed by the NVC (National Visa Center). Since the U.S. only allocates a limited number of each kind of visa per year, you may need to wait several years before the last step of your petition is finally completed and you can move to the USA from the UK.
What is the Green Card Lottery?
Through the Diversity Immigrant Visa Program (DV Program), the USCIS makes up to 50,000 immigrant visas available annually for eligible foreigners. The winners are drawn from a random selection among all entries.
Only individuals who are from countries with low immigration rates to the U.S. can participate in the Green Card Lottery.
Those who win and are already residing in America on a nonimmigrant visa will have the opportunity to adjust their status.
If you have been selected for a diversity visa by the lottery, you must submit a complete bundle of documents, including your evidence of admissibility in the U.S.
Emigration to America Advice
Moving to the USA from the UK can open different opportunities for you and your family, as well as for ambitious UK entrepreneurs. On the other hand, dealing with this kind of applications and understanding how to proceed may be complicated. This is why you should entrust your case with one of IAS’ immigration specialists.
Call us on 0333 363 8577 or make an enquiry online to find out how to move to the USA from the UK.
Emigrating to America Application Guidance
Get in touch with our immigration lawyers to start your emigration journey to America. One of our experts will be happy to review your case and offer his or her professional emigration advice. With our knowledge of international law, we can assist you and your family with any matters relating to your visa application process.
Call us on 0333 363 8577 or make an enquiry online to find out how to move to the USA from the UK.
U.S. international workers programs
Employment is one of the most common paths to enter America legally. However, U.S. borders are open only for foreign workers who are highly specialised and have a job offer from domestic businesses, or for entrepreneurs interested in investing in the country.
Immigrant work visas (permanent)
This category is for applicants who hold an advanced degree or equivalent, and are thus considered as having “exceptional ability”. Those individuals in these categories are eventually allowed to include their dependants in their forms and, after a certain amount of time, to settle permanently in the U.S. The tier includes the following visas:
- EB-1 Visa, for foreign nationals who are internationally recognised as leaders in their field, outstanding researchers and professors, executives and managers of major organisations
- EB-2 Visa, for professionals with an advanced university degree who have received a job offer from a U.S. company
- EB-3 Visa, for skilled workers with a bachelor’s degree and with a job offer from a U.S. business
Nonimmigrant visas (temporary)
This tier includes:
- H-1B Visa (Specialty Occupations)
- L-1 Visa (Intracompany Transferee)
- O-1 Visa (Individuals with Extraordinary Ability)
- E-1 Visa (International Treaty Traders)
- TN Visa, for Mexican and Canadian citizens
U.S.-Family Based Immigrant Visas
Based on the type of kinship with your American sponsor, there are two groups of family-based immigrant visa categories:
Immediate Relative Immigrant Visas
These permits are based on close family relationships between a U.S. national and an alien, who is described as an Immediate Relative (IR). There is no limit to the number of visas in this tier that can be issued each year. The IR visa types are the following:
- R-1: Spouse of a U.S. Citizen
- IR-2: Unmarried Child Under 21 Years of Age of a U.S. Citizen
- IR-3/IR-4: Orphan adopted abroad by a U.S. Citizen
- IR-5: Parent of a U.S. Citizen who is at least 21 years old
Family Preference Immigrant Visas
Since these permits are for more distant family relationships, there is a fiscal year numerical limitation on them. The family preference categories are:
- Family First Preference (F1): Unmarried sons and daughters of U.S. citizens and their minor children
- Family Second Preference (F2): Spouses, minor children and unmarried sons and daughters (age 21 and over) of LPRs (Lawful Permanent Residents)
- Family Third Preference (F3): Married sons and daughters of U.S. citizens, and their spouses and minor children
- Family Fourth Preference (F4): Brothers and sisters of U.S. citizens, and their spouses and minor children, provided that the U.S. citizens are at least 21 years of age.
What visa do I need to visit the USA?
UK citizens and other aliens who wish to visit the United States must first get a nonimmigrant visa for temporary stay, or apply for an ESTA. Based on your travelling purposes, you need to apply for one of the following permits:
B-1 Visa for Business Visitors
This permit is for international travellers entering the U.S. for business purposes. This includes:
- Attending an educational, scientific, professional or business convention
- Negotiating a contract
- Consulting with business associates
B-2 Visa for Tourism
Tourists who wish to enter the U.S. for recreational purposes, need to apply for this visa. This includes:
- Visiting friends or relatives
- Receiving private medical treatment
- Enrolment in short recreational courses of study
How to study in America?
Based on the type of school they wish to attend in the U.S., UK pupils need to apply for a specific visa.
|Type of Education Institution||U.S. Student Visa|
|University, high school or college||F Visa|
|Private elementary school|
|Other academic institutions (i.e. language courses)|
|Vocational non-academic institutions||M Visa|
To be eligible, British students need to be accepted by a Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP)-approved school in the U.S.
Working on a U.S. Student Visa
International students can get permission to work on-campus. This is only possible in limited and unforeseen circumstances, such as:
- The university reduces or eliminates your financial aid through no fault of yours
- The university increases its costs
- Necessary expenses, such as medical bills or other emergencies
- Change of your personal condition, such as marriage or newborn dependents
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Although British citizens do not need a visa to enter the U.S., if you have a UK passport you will need to apply for an ESTA (Electronic System for Travel Authorization).
By applying for the Visa Waiver Program, you can use your British passport to visit the U.S. for tourism, business, medical and short study purposes without a visa, for up to 90 days. Once obtained, the ESTA will be valid for two years.
As an international worker, you can either enter the U.S. on a temporary basis or as a sponsored and permanent employee.
The first thing you need before you can file your petition is a job offer from a U.S.-based employer. The company must submit a Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker (also known as a I-129 Form). In the cases of specific visa categories, it must also receive a certification from the DOL (Department of Labour). This will certify that the business needs foreign workers. When this is approved, you will be able to submit your visa petition.
As a part of your U.S. Visa application process, you will be summoned for an interview at your nearest U.S. Embassy.
No, individuals who already hold a valid visa can travel to the U.S. without the need to apply for an ESTA.
A successful visa or ESTA petition does not automatically guarantee the right to enter the U.S.
The Department of Homeland Security U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) will inspect any migrant who wishes to cross one of the country’s port-of-entries. Officials can authorise or deny admission if there are any irregularities.