What is a U.S. Visa?
If you are a foreign citizen who wishes to travel to the U.S., you may first need to obtain a visa.
Having a U.S. visa allows you to live in the U.S. for a specific purpose and over a fixed period of stay. If you already have a relative in the U.S., they may be eligible to sponsor your visa by filing a petition to bring you over. Otherwise, you may need to submit your application to seek permission to enter the country.
There are also certain categories of immigration visas that are only available to skilled professionals and are subject to an annual cap. This means there is a limit to the total number of visas that can be issued under a category each year. Applicants in these categories may need to wait for several months or even years before getting the visa.
The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) issues a monthly bulletin where you can get information about visa availability and check your visa application status.
How can my partner join me in the U.S.?
If you are a U.S. citizen, there are different ways of bringing your foreign partner to join you in the U.S. This will depend on the status of your relationship.
Spouse: If you are married, your foreign spouse can apply for a Nonimmigrant Spouse Visa, known as a K3 Visa. You will have to petition the USCIS and demonstrate evidence of a valid relationship between you and your spouse. If the petition is approved, your foreign spouse will then apply for a visa at a U.S. embassy or consulate in their country of residence. This will allow them to travel to the U.S. to join you.
Fiancée(e): If you have a foreign fiancée(e), you can bring them to the U.S. by applying for a Nonimmigrant Fiancée(e) visa, also known as a K1 Visa. You must demonstrate that you have both been in a relationship and are ready to marry. The process also requires you to petition USCIS to demonstrate evidence of a genuine relationship. If the petition is approved, your foreign fiancée(e) will apply for a visa at the U.S. embassy or consulate in their country of residence. You must get married within 90 days of your fiancée(e)’s admission into the U.S.
How can I help my family travel to the U.S.?
If you are a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident (green card holder), you can sponsor your relatives’ visa applications. There are various categories of family-based visas under U.S. immigration law. They are as follows:
- IR1 or CR1 for immediate relatives of U.S. citizens (the spouse, minor child, or parent of a U.S. citizen).
- First preference (F1): Unmarried children over the age of 21 of U.S. citizens.
- Second Preference (F2A): Spouses and unmarried children under 21 of permanent residents.
- Second Preference (F2B): Unmarried adult sons or daughters of permanent residents.
- Third Preference (F3): Married sons or daughters of U.S. citizens.
- Fourth Preference (F4): Adult brothers and sisters of U.S. citizens.
How can I work in the U.S.?
You can apply for an employment-based visa to travel to the U.S. There are temporary work visas that allow people to live and work for a given period of time, ranging from months to years. There are also permanent work visas that allow people to stay and work in the U.S. for as long as they want.
The U.S. temporary work visas include:
- H1B Visa, for foreign professionals in speciality occupations
- L1A and L1B Intracompany Transferee for individuals working in a U.S.-based branch of their company.
- E1 and E2 Visas for foreign traders and investors
- Foreign media representatives, entertainers, athletes, and religious workers
- Applicants from Mexico and Canada under the NAFTA agreement.
The U.S. permanent employment-based immigrant visas include:
- First Preference (EB1) for priority workers
- Second Preference (EB2) for members of the professions holding advanced degrees or who have exceptional ability
- Third Preference (EB3) for skilled workers, professionals, or other workers
- Fourth Preference (EB4) for special immigrants, such as religious workers and special immigrant juveniles
- Fifth Preference (EB5) for immigrant investors.
What visa do I need to visit the U.S.?
If you wish to visit the U.S. for a short period, you will need to obtain one of the following visas:
- B1 Visitor Visa for business purposes
- B2 Tourist Visa, for tourism/leisure or seeking medical treatment
To be eligible, you must demonstrate evidence of your nonimmigrant intent. In order words, you must return to your home country at the end of the period of stay approved on your visa.
How can I study in the U.S.?
If you wish to study in the U.S., you can apply for one of the three following study visas:
- F Student Visa: for study at an accredited U.S. university or college. The visa also allows applicants who wish to study English at an accredited study English language institute.
- J Exchange Visitor Visa: for participants in an exchange program, including university and high school study.
- M Student Visa: for non-academic or vocational training or study in the United States.
Before you can apply for an F, M, or J student visa, you must first apply and be accepted by a U.S. higher education institution accredited by the Student Exchange and Visitor Program (SEVP).
How can I obtain U.S. citizenship?
There are different ways to become a U.S. citizen. They include:
- Birthright citizenship for people born within the territorial limits of the U.S.
- Citizenship by Naturalization: through which a non-U.S. citizen becomes an American citizen after meeting certain eligibility requirements.
- Citizenship Through the Green Card Lottery, which is held every fiscal year.
You must first determine which of the routes you are eligible for and then file a petition with USCIS.
What services does IAS offer?
The U.S. immigration and citizenship applications require a series of processes and documentation. Any little mistake can cause delay or rejection of your application.
To avoid such pitfalls, ensure a timely process, and maximize your chances of visa approval, it is advisable to seek legal advice. This is where we come in.
At IAS, our immigration lawyers have extensive knowledge of the immigration system and can help make your immigration and citizenship process less stressful. We help you gather your supporting documents, file your application forms, and liaise with USCIS.
To start discussing the best way we can help you obtain your U.S. visa, get in touch with us today. You can call us on +1 844 290 6312 or use our online contact form.
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