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Legal Immigration: How to Apply for US Visas

Work visa!
You may be surprised how many different ways there are to make your way into the US. Hopefully, this article will be helpful for assisting you with knowing what those options are.

Once again, I decided to deviate from my original plans to discuss a topic which I feel may be beneficial to highly talented international individuals that are trying to find a better life for themselves and their family. Over the years, I have been blessed with the opportunity to meet some brilliant, ambitious foreigners that, for one reason or other have not been able to fulfill their dreams and ambitions in their native homeland. While I may be unfamiliar with how the economy, civics and government works in different countries, I am fairly familiar with how the immigration process works in the United States (US). As such, I have decided to prepare a guide to help people find out where to start in case they are feeling overwhelmed with the application process. The main agencies in the US Federal Government that oversee the immigration and work visa applications are largely the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), US Department of State (DOS) and the US Department of Labor (DOL).

While it may be difficult to directly immigrate to the US, starting off with a work visa may be a fantastic way to help get your foot in the door. There are many different kinds of work visas available, and in this post, we will briefly explain the qualifying criteria for different type of travel visa, and which ones you should consider applying for, if you are eligible for more than one different kind of visa.

Let's first start off by providing a brief overview of the qualifying criteria for US work visas:

Employer sponsorships are categorized as EB. There are a total of 5 different kinds of Employer Sponsorship visas that you may be eligible for:

  1. EB-1 sponsorships are typically reserved for highly experienced professionals, executives or managers in various fields, including science, art, education, business or sports.

  2. EB-2 sponsorships are for professionals with a Master's Degree or higher, in various different professions, including medicine, science and teaching.

  3. EB-3 sponsorships are for Master's or PhD holders that are not covered under EB-2. These can also be given to low-skill laborers who are offered a permanent job in the US.

  4. EB-4 sponsorships are for migrants that do not fit into any of the above categories, including religious workers, US foreign service employees, or others.

  5. EB-5 are for foreign investors which contribute $0.9-1.8M in a US business with at least 10 employees

Alternatively, if a foreign national works at a company whose parent is in the US, they may qualify for an L1 visa if the following is true:

  1. L-1A visas are granted for Executive or Managerial staff.

  2. L-1B visas are granted for Specialist Knowledge (i.e. subject matter experts) staff.

If you find the EB route discouraging, don't give up just yet. Investment is another option.

  1. EB-5 sponsorships, as previously discussed also fall into this category.

  2. E1 sponsorships are available for foreign nationals belonging to a country that has made a trade treaty with the US. The link below includes a table which lists these countries:

  3. E2 sponsorships are available to international investors that have at least 50% ownership of a US company that provides jobs to a significant number of American workers.

  4. E3 sponsorships are for Australians only who have a bachelor's degree or higher in a specialty field

Foreign nationals with a specialty occupation may qualify for an H-1B visa if they have at least a bachelor's degree, within the following fields:

  1. IT/Computer professionals

  2. University professors and teachers

  3. Engineering

  4. Healthcare workers

  5. Accountants

  6. Financial analysts

  7. Management consultants

  8. Lawyers

  9. Architects

  10. Nurses

  11. Physicians

  12. Surgeons

  13. Dentists

  14. Scientists

  15. Systems analysts

  16. Journalists and editors

  17. Foreign Law advisors

  18. Psychologists

  19. Technical publication writers

  20. Market research analysts

  21. Teachers in elementary, secondary schools or colleges.

A foreign national may be considered for a US family visa if they are one of the following:

  1. The spouse of a US citizen (IR1, CR1, or K-3 visas)

  2. The parent of a US citizen that is 21 or older.

  3. A fiancé of a US citizen (K-1 visa)

  4. The child of a K-1 fiance (K-2 visa)

  5. The child of a K-3 spouse (K-4 visa)

  6. An adopted child of a US citizen (IR-3 or IR-4 visa)

  7. A sibling of a US citizen.

You can also get a temporary visa for either work or pleasure (B-1 or B-2) respectively. B-1 visas may vary in length, however, B-2 visas are typically only good for up to 90 days, before they have to be renewed.

Additionally, there are different kinds of student visas available for students. They are as follows:

  1. F-1 Visas are for fulltime students who wish to study in the US at a formal school, college or university.

  2. M-1 Visas are for fulltime students who wish to study in the US at a non-academic or vocational institution, such as a technical college.

Exchange visas are granted to individuals who participate in qualifying programs, and can last for up to 18 months. They are typically known as J-1 visas.

Canadians get preferential treatment for traveling to the US and can easily be granted a TN-1 visa. It comes with the following benefits:

  1. Initially granted for 1 year, but can be renewed indefinitely.

  2. Can be applied for at the US-Canadian border, and is almost always granted immediately.

  3. Less documentation is typically required.

The Visa Lottery Program is, as the name implies, a random, luck-based system in which people may apply for a Visa freely through the US Department of State within a specific timeframe for each fiscal year. Unfortunately, for the current year (DV-2024), the application has already opened on October 5, 2022 and ended on November 8, 2022. That said, if you would like to consider this as an option, mark your calendars for around this time and give it a try. You can't win if you don't play. If you are interested, the official instructions can be found here.

Finally, there individuals who qualify for asylum or refugee status may qualify for these special Visas. In order to qualify for a refugee green card, you would need to satisfy the following conditions:

  1. Properly file Form I-485

  2. Be admitted into the US as a refugee under section 207 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA).

  3. You are physically present in the US so you can file Form I-485.

  4. Your refugee status has not been revoked.

  5. You are not currently a permanent resident.

  6. Attend your interview for a green card.

  7. Obtain your green card.

To qualify for an asylum green card, you would need to satisfy the following conditions:

  1. Complete Form I-485

  2. Assemble and be able to provide all necessary supporting documentation.

  3. Obtain necessary filing fees.

  4. Submit all applicable forms and documents to USCIS.

  5. Attend all appointments for biometrics and identification.

  6. Attend green card interview.

  7. Obtain your green card.

And there you have it. I apologize in advance if this article was not too helpful. I was genuinely surprised myself how many different routes there are to obtain a visa in the US, and if I tried to explain the process for each of these routes in-depth, this article would never be finished. If anyone would like me to describe the processes of any specific visa route, please feel free to contact me, and I will try to make a new blog post. Stay tuned for the next post, and enjoy the rest of your weekend.

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