The U.S is one of the places that many people want to visit or live and work in. It provides many opportunities for people both in terms of tourism and permanent residence. If you are looking to go to the U.S, you have two ways that you can do that:
- Go to the U.S for a temporary visit
- Go to the U.S for permanent residence
Temporary visits mean that you will only be in the U.S for a limited period of time and once your visa expires, you will return to your home country. Temporary stays can be for tourism, family visits, or work opportunities. This way of visiting the U.S requires a U.S nonimmigrant visa which is given by the U.S Embassy in your home country after you follow the application process. How you apply and what requirements you need to fulfill depends on the type of nonimmigrant visa that you are applying for.
Permanent stays mean that you are moving to the U.S to live and work there. Permanent stays require a U.S immigrant visa and this article will go through what that visa is, the benefits of getting an immigrant visa, which forms you or your petitioner might have to fill out, as well as an overview of U.S immigration services.
How to Legally Stay Permanently in the U.S?
A U.S permanent residence permit gives you the opportunity to permanently stay in the U.S. When you get this visa, you are not required to go back to your home country and you can seek any opportunities you want within the U.S.
To be allowed to do this, you must apply for a U.S immigrant visa. There are various types of immigrant visas, but they can be grouped in four categories:
- S immigrant family sponsored visas – which means that you are moving to the U.S to join your immediate family such as your spouse, parents, or children.
- S immigrant employment sponsored visas – which means that a U.S company has hired you and is willing to sponsor your immigrant visa.
- S diversity visa – which means that you have been selected in the U.S diversity lottery, since you come from a country with low immigration rates to the U.S.
- S returning resident visa – which means that you have held a U.S immigrant visa before but due to unforeseen circumstances you left the U.S and your returning immigrant visa expired. Through the returning resident visa, you can renew the immigrant visa you held before and be allowed to move to the U.S again.
When you apply for one of these categories of visas, you will have to wait for a certain period of time for an update on your U.S Green Card status. Because some visas are highly demanded, there might be long waiting times and you might get your visa after a few years. For visas that are less demanded, it can be processed within a few months.
A U.S permanent residence permit is basically what is called a U.S Green Card. After your visa is approved and you move to the U.S, you will get your Green Card in the mail. This gives you many benefits, almost similar to a U.S citizen.
With a U.S immigrant visa, you are allowed to live and work in the U.S. You can work for any employer you want, as long as it is legal. You are allowed to travel to other countries and come back within a specified period of time, marry, and have children in the U.S. After your initial Green Card period is reached, you are also allowed to apply for a U.S citizenship if you fulfill the requirements.
What are the U.S Immigration Forms?
Based on which category of immigration and which type of immigrant visa you want to apply for, there will be several forms that you must fill out and submit during the process. For the immigration process, someone from the U.S must first send out a petition on your behalf to the U.S Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). This petition is different depending on the type of visa and purpose, but it means that the petitioner is asking the U.S government to approve the applicant for an immigrant visa. All of these forms have fees that your petitioner must pay before they can get processed.
Below will be some of the most popular forms that people have to fill out during the U.S immigration application process.
Form I-129F, Petition for Alien Fiance
This form is sent out by a U.S citizen who is engaged to a person from a foreign country. The couple is already engaged and they have filed their documents for the fiancé to come to the U.S permanently. To shorten the time that the couple has to be apart, the U.S government will give the fiancé a visa to come to the U.S so the couple can get married.
Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative
This form is used by any family member who is a U.S permanent resident or citizen to petition the government to approve an immediate family member to come to the U.S. This is used for family sponsored immigration visas and is only for spouses, parents, or children and does not apply for other extended family members.
Form I-140, Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker
This form is used by employers who want to hire a person from a foreign country as an employee. If you apply for a job in the U.S and are hired, the employer will send this form with your information and reasons why you should be allowed to come to the U.S to work permanently and why your skills are valuable.
Form I-526, Immigrant Petition by Alien Entrepreneur
This form is used by those who want to invest in the U.S economy and get a visa that way. These are called investor visas and the person must invest from $500,000 to $1 million in a U.S company and create a certain number of jobs to get this visa. However, they must first petition the U.S government by submitting this form to be allowed to invest that amount.
Form I-800A, Determination on Suitability to Adopt a Child from a Convention Country
Many U.S couples want to adopt children from foreign countries and before they are allowed to do that, they must go through a lengthy process. One of the steps in this process includes filing this form so that they can get inspected by the U.S government. The government decides whether the couple fulfills the criteria to adopt a child.
Form DS-260, Immigrant Visa Electronic Application
This form is the one that all those who are applying for U.S immigration must fill and submit to the U.S Embassy. Since the U.S government moved their application portals online, all those seeking to immigrate in the country must submit a Form DS-260.
This form collects your basic information such as your name, address, family information, employment and education details and so on. It also gives you space to state for which type of immigrant visa you are applying for and why you want to immigrate.
At the end when you submit this form, it will give you a confirmation page and number, which you need to save since you might be asked to send it to the National Visa Center (NVC).
How to find U.S Immigration Services?
When you decide to apply for a U.S immigrant visa, you will have to go through different institutions and services to complete this task. The services and institutions you will have to go through depending on your visa can be as follows:
- S Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) – is the place where your petitioner must submit the petition forms for the applicants.
- S State Department – is the institution which will go through various application forms and documents.
- National Visa Center (NVC) – will go through your approved petition and send you an informative package with all the necessary steps and forms you must take to apply for the immigrant visa.
- S Department of Labor (DOL) – is the place where companies must get their labor certification before they are allowed to hire an employee from a foreign country.
- S Embassy in your home country – is where the applicant submits their final application and has the visa interview. This step is conducted only after the petition and other documents have been approved.
The process for applying for a U.S immigrant visa can be long and tiresome and that is why many people seek help from other places. There are countless lawyer offices which will help you fill out forms and documents for a fee. Additionally, there are visa centers which you can pay to complete the entire application process on your behalf and all you will have to do is pay them their fee and sign any documents that they might ask you to. Because the forms are confusing and long, a lot of applicants choose to have either a lawyer or a visa center assist them in getting their immigrant visa to the U.S.