Immigration To The USA
The American Dream is still a reality. To stay legally in the United States, as a foreigner, you have to get you a valid visa. All visas have to be done in your actual country of residency. Don't come to the USA without visa or you will have to come back to your country on the next plane. A special kind of visa exists for every purpose of your stay.

The content on this page is for information purposes only and should not be regarded as the law.
You should contact an immigration lawyer to discuss your specific case.

United States Citizenship and Immigration Services grants two types of visa: immigrant and non-immigrant. The former is permanent – get one of these and you're in for good; the latter is temporary, either on a seasonal, yearly, or – more typically – three-year basis.

All Family and Employment-Based (EB) visas are immigrant visas; all business visas – with the exception of the 'job creation' EB-5 Investor visa – and other non-employment (non-EB) visas are non-immigrant visas. Each and every visa is assigned a letter and, if it has subclasses, a number, too.

Family Visas
US citizens can sponsor relatives to gain permanent residency in America, but they have to be defined as immediate family. There are four 'preferences' of Family visas, all subject to annual quotas.
F-1 Unmarried sons and daughters of US citizens who are over 21 years of age. Processing period: one to five years.
F-2A Spouses and unmarried children under 21 of a US permanent resident. Processing period: one to five years.
F-2B Unmarried sons and daughters over 21 of a US permanent resident. Processing period: one to seven years.
F-3 Married sons and daughter of US citizens. Processing period: one to five years.
F-4 Biological siblings of US citizens. Processing period: five to seven years.
Immigrant visas are available.
EB-1 Priority Worker – For foreign nationals of extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business or athletics.
EB-2 – For professionals with advanced degrees or persons with exceptional ability in the sciences, arts or business.
EB-3 – For 'Skilled' or 'Professional Workers', defined as: foreign national professionals with bachelor's degrees not qualifying for a higher preference category; skilled workers with two years training; and experience and unskilled workers. In almost all cases, a job offer and labour certification is required. The introduction of Programmed Electronic Review Management (PERM), is making the application process more complicated but is cutting waiting times significantly.
EB-4 Special Immigrants – For religious workers, employees and former employees of the US government abroad.
Non-immigrant visas
H-1B Speciality Worker – For professions in which specific labour shortages are experienced in specialised industries. Other H-class visas – Cover nurses working in health professional shortage areas; temporary agricultural workers; temporary workers, skilled or unskilled; trainees invited by an organisation or individual (children and spouses included).
Intracompany Transferees
Employees of foreign companies with parent companies, branches or subsidiaries in the US work in America under the L Intracompany Transferee visas.
L-1A – For executive or managerial roles. Also used by UK business owners to transfer to a US branch of their company.
L-1B – Covers specialised skills and knowledge.
L-2 – For the spouses and children of recipients of L-1A and L-1B visas (spouses are able to work on the L-2 visa).
Business visas are all about money, although you might not necessarily need as much as you think to get your foot in the door. In some cases $100,000 or less could give you the keys to the US via an E-2 visa.
Immigrant visas
EB-5 Immigrant Investor visa – For those who set-up a business in the States with a minimum investment figure of at least $500,000 which creates or stimulates employment for US nationals in a 'Regional Centre' or $1 million elsewhere.

The EB-5 is the only business visa that confers immediate permanent residency on the applicant, his or her spouse and any children under the age of 21. Some migration agents present the EB-5 as a 'retirement' visa, but it is in fact a 'passive' investment visa, meaning you don't have to work in the business.

Non-immigrant visas
E Treaty Traders and Investors – A 'Treaty Trader' is an individual from a country with which the US has a trade treaty.
E-1 Treaty Trader – For those carrying out trade of an international nature, on their own behalf or as the employee of a foreign business.
E-2 Treaty Investor – Popular with Brits, the E-2 is for those who invest a 'substantial' amount of capital in a US enterprise that they are seeking to develop. Typically granted for three years, renewals can be gained should the business continue to meet the requirements. Spouses and unmarried children under 21 years of age can accompany the visa holders.
B-1 Temporary Business Visitor – Permits temporary residence in the US for a specific, limited period. During this period, B-1 visa holders cannot normally take 'gainful employment', receive a salary from a US source or participate as a professional in entertainment or sporting events.
Other Visas
B-2 Holiday visa permits a stay of up to six months in the US. An interview with a consular officer is required to obtain a B-2 visa.
F-1 Student visa
J-1 Exchange program visa

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