Everything You Need to Know About Securing a Visa in the United States

Everything You Need to Know About Securing a Visa in the United States

For many people around the world, a trip to the United States is a fun and exciting way to spend an extended vacation. For others, moving to the country legally may be on the radar, but they may not know how to go about it. In both of the above situations, a Visa may be the correct answer for learning how to legally enter the country for whatever purpose you may require.

What is a Visa?

To those unfamiliar with the term, a Visa is a document that allows legal entry into the United States, whether that be entry from an airport, harbor, or some other means. This permission comes from the Department of Homeland security, allowing the international traveler to stay for the period of time outlined on their Visa. When in the country, a foreign person should always keep their passport on them with their Visa tucked inside in the event they are asked for identification.

Nonimmigrant Visa vs. Immigrant Visa

As a traveler considers applying for a Visa to enter the United States, they likely hear about two different options that they can keep in mind: a nonimmigrant Visa and an immigrant Visa. First and foremost, a nonimmigrant Visa is the type that the majority of the people visiting the U.S. will seek out. This type of Visa is meant for foreign nationals traveling to the United States for a short period of time, typically for medical treatment or tourism.

On the other side of things, an immigrant Visa is for those who are seeking permanent residence in the United States through one of many potential avenues. Naturally, securing a nonimmigrant Visa is far easier than securing an immigrant Visa due to the length of time that the person will be in the country.

Different Types of U.S. Visas

Going deeper than just looking at the difference between a nonimmigrant Visa and an immigrant Visa, there are a number of subcategories to keep in mind. Plus, with recent amendments giving work rights to visa tourists, it’s worth looking at each type of common Visa and what it allows:

Nonimmigrant Visas

As mentioned, nonimmigrant Visas allow a foreign national to enter the United States for a small period of time which is typically for travel or medical reasons. Most have an expiration no longer than six months, and there is only one primary type of nonimmigrant Visa. However, it’s worth making a note that most Canadian and Bermudian Citizens will not need a Visa for tourism, and there is an additional Visa Waiver Program available for some qualifying individuals:

Visitor Visa B

Serving as the staple nonimmigrant Visa, the Visitor Visa B is the primary option a person will apply for when hoping to live in the United States. Primarily considered by those seeking vacations, visiting friends or family, seeking medical treatment, or other similar reasons, a Visitor Visa B is a short-term Visa.

Immigrant Visas

On the other side of things, as discussed, an immigrant visa is for those who are seeking to live permanently in the U.S. for a qualifying reason. The most common of those reasons are the four listed below:

Employment-based Visa

A work Visa is one of the most commonly seen permanent Visas in the United States and allows a holder to work within the country and reside here while they are working. Specifically, there are a number of subgroups in this category including those workers with an extraordinary ability, outstanding professors or researchers, and certain executives who are required in their role.

Family-based Visa

For those who have family in the United States who are either citizens or green card holders, you may be eligible to apply for a family-based visa which allows you to stay in the country. Citizens can file an immigrant Visa petition for their spouse, children, parent, or siblings. Green card holders can only file this petition for their spouse or unmarried children.

Adoption Visa

Adoption is a beautiful way to expand a family, and some parents choose to look international when adopting a child. If parents are adopting a child who is currently overseas, they can file an immigrant Visa petition on grounds of adoption so that their child can live with them in the United States. This type of Visa can become more difficult to secure if the child is not a baby, but it is generally not a difficult Visa.

Special Immigrant Visa

Finally, certain individuals who are foreign nationals may be granted special status. This could be individuals from countries impacted by war, retired civilians from NATO, recruited individuals, certain employees, and a number of other categories. There are also certain religious workers who are allowed within the United States under this type of Visa as well.

Green Card vs. Visa: What is the Difference?

The primary difference between a green card holder and a Visa holder revolves around their status in the United States. A green card holder has permanent residency in the United States unconditionally and is just shy of citizenship. On the other hand, a Visa holder (even an immigrant Visa holder) could potentially be kicked out of the country if the terms of their Visa are no longer applicable. This is why some individual’s choose to apply for a green card instead of a Visa, specifically if they have a longer term goal of becoming a citizen of the United States in the future.

Secure your place in the United States today

Regardless of where you may be from, the United States is a country that welcomes everybody with open arms. The freedom and rights you have by living in the U.S. are unparalleled, which makes it an amazing location to be. Whether you are a short-term visitor or are seeking longer-term refuge, a United States Visa might be the right choice for you. If you have been wrongly displaced from the United States, consider reaching out to an immigration attorney who may be able to help.