There are many different types of visas available for individuals who want to come to the United States in order to study at U.S. universities, work for a U.S. employer, or invest into a U.S. commercial enterprise. Foreign nationals can come to the U.S. temporarily as students, visitors, investors, or workers.
- The F-1 Student Visa: In order to come to the U.S. as a student, a foreign national must enroll in a Department of State accepted college or university. When students go to the U.S. embassy to obtain the F-1 visa, they must be able to prove that they have a domicile in their home country that they do not plan to abandon, and that they have sufficient funds to live on while in the U.S. completing their degree program. Spouses and children of F-1 students are eligible for F-2 dependent visas.
- The E-1/2 Investor Trader Visa: Foreign nationals from certain countries that maintain a trade treaty with the U.S. are eligible to come to the U.S. in order to participate in ongoing trade activity or to direct an investment that has been made into a qualifying U.S. commercial enterprise. Their spouses and children can also come to the U.S. as well.
- The Work Visas: There are several different types of temporary work visas including the H-1B, L-1, O-1, and R-1 visa. For all of these visas, the foreign citizen must have a job offer from a U.S. employer and must be coming to the U.S. to perform specific job duties. Spouses and children can accompany temporary workers as dependents.
Additionally, there are also many options available to foreign nationals who wish to live in the U.S. permanently and obtain their green card. Green card holders are called lawful permanent residents (LPRs).
- LPR: Permanent residents can live and work without restriction in the U.S. and they can use their green cards to travel in and out of the country without needing to obtain any visa. LPRs are also eligible to sponsor certain family members for their own green cards. A foreign national can become an LPR through a family-based petition, employment-based petition, investing in the U.S., receiving asylum from the U.S. government, or winning the diversity lottery which is conducted by the U.S. Department of State. The process of becoming an LPR typically takes at least one year and often many more if the applicant makes a mistake, which is why working with experienced immigration attorneys can be very beneficial.
After three or five years of being an LPR (depending on how the LPR obtained the green card) the LPR is eligible to become a U.S. citizen, through a process called Naturalization – provided the LPR has paid U.S. taxes, maintained a clean criminal record, and met certain residence and physical presence requirements.
- Naturalization: For more foreign nationals, their ultimate goal is to become a U.S. citizen. When you become a U.S. citizen, you are allowed to obtain a U.S. passport, vote in U.S. elections, and sponsor other members of your family for permanent residence.
Contact the Callan Law Firm, P.C. today to discuss the immigration options that may be available to you and your family!