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Immigration 101: Entering the US legally

United States of America Visa

For those interested in moving to the US, the first question that’s uppermost in their minds is: “How do you legally immigrate to the US?” The process of moving to the USA requires patience, planning, and a knowledgeable partner to guide aspirants through.

Viewpoint Realty International founder Georgette Gillis has written several books on “How to Immigrate to the US,” which has assisted hundreds of immigrants obtain their green cards or proper visas in order to live and work in the USA.

In this article, she shares the steps that will enable you to enter the US legally.

Know the visa that’s appropriate

The US Department of State issues visas through embassies and consulates. The purpose of going to the US will determine the kind of visa they’ll need to apply for. Some of the most common visas include the following:

  • Visitor visas
  • Student visas
  • Work visas
  • Immigrant visas
  • Transit visas
  • Fiancé(e) visas

Understand the requirements

Below are three of the most common visa categories and their corresponding requirements.

  1. Family-based immigration

    This visa allows US citizens and Lawful Permanent Residents (at least 21 years old) to sponsor an immediate relative. This immigrant visa is divided into two categories:

    • Immediate relative – A citizen can sponsor a spouse, child, or parent. There is no limit to the number of immigrants in this category per fiscal year.
    • Family preference – A citizen or Lawful Permanent Resident can sponsor a distant relative under this category. However, there is a limit on the number of immigrants that can be sponsored per fiscal year.

    Keep in mind that US citizens can petition for their spouse, child, parent, and/or sibling while US Lawful Permanent Residents can only petition for their spouse and/or unmarried child.

  2. Employment-based visa

    This visa requires applicants to have a job offer from an employer in the US. Employers can sponsor a foreign worker provided they have a specialized skill that job seekers in the US can’t fill.

  3. The following are the five categories of an employment-based visa:

    • Employment First Preference (E1): Priority Worker and Persons of Extraordinary Ability
      This includes persons with extraordinary ability in the fields of science, art, education, business, or athletics, outstanding professors and researchers, and multinational managers or executives.
    • Employment Second Preference (E2): Professionals Holding Advanced Degrees and Persons of Exceptional Ability
      People in this category include professionals holding an advanced degree and persons with exceptional ability in the fields of science, arts, or business.
    • Employment Third Preference (E3): Skilled Workers, Professionals, and Unskilled Workers (Other Workers)
      This includes skilled workers (non-seasonal jobs that require at least two years of training or work experience), professionals (jobs that require a baccalaureate degree), and unskilled workers or other workers (non-temporary jobs that require less than two years of training or experience)
    • Employment Fourth Preference (E4): Certain Special Immigrants
      There are 19 subgroups in this category include broadcasters, military personnel, religious workers, and the like. Most of those included in this category have served the US in some capacity abroad.
    • Employment Fifth Preference (E5): Immigrant Investors
      Immigrant investors refer to foreign investors who make capital investments in new commercial enterprises that help create jobs in the US.
  4. Student and vocational training visa

    An international student can apply for a student visa only after they’re accepted by a Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) certified school. The applicant’s intended course or program will determine the type of student and vocational training visa that ought to be chosen. The most common student visas are:

    • F-1 – Full-time international students pursuing academic studies
    • M-1 – Full-time international students studying vocational courses
    • J-1 – Also known as the exchange visitor program or EVP, this visa is for foreign nationals who are involved in a work- or study-based exchange program
  5. Visitor or business visa

    Citizens from one of 39 countries that are part of the Visa Waiver Program may enter the US without a visitor or business visa.

  6. Otherwise, foreign nationals should apply for either one of the following visas:

    • B-1 – For those who need to do business in the US like consult with associates, negotiate contracts, settle an estate, and the like.
    • B-2 – Tourists or those who seek medical treatment, attend a social event, or join an amateur contest for no pay

Learn more about living and working in the US

For an in-depth look at the immigration process, read Migrating to the US

For more information on how to live and work in the US, consult with Viewpoint Realty International. We provide immigration counseling to our international clients and help them obtain the appropriate visas.

Get in touch with the team today at 727.584.7355 or viewpointrealtyinternational(at)gmail(dotted)com.