If you want to come to the United States from a foreign country –no matter how long your stay will befor – the very first thing you need todois apply for a visa. People who want to come to the United States must fit certain eligibility criteria, whether they are seeking permanent residence (agreen card) or shorter stay (nonimmigrant visa). Once the criteria is met, a number of applications are submitted to several US agencies responsible for immigration law enforcement. The main departments handling immigration are the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and the US Department of State (DOS).
Permanent Residence (Green Card)
If you’re seeking to permanently move to the US, you will need to obtain permanent residence, or a green card. With your green card, you can live and work in the US and travel internationally. Green card holders are not allowed to vote since they are not US citizens, and they are still allowed tobe deported if they are found abusing their green card status or breaking US laws.
The biggest number of green cards are issued to family members of existing US citizens. Some are also issues to workers and investors who are working here on behalf ofUS employers. There are also a variety of other green card issuances, like refugee, asylum, or other humanitarian statuses for people fleeing persecution.
Shorter Stay (Nonimmigrant Visa)
However, if you’re only wanting tobein the US for a temporary amount of time, you will apply for a nonimmigrant visa. With this, you can do shorter term activities like visiting the country, studying at a US college, or working as long as your visa is valid. Just like with a green card, nonimmigrant visa holders are not allowed to vote and are allowed tobe deported for breaking US laws.
Most nonimmigrant visas are issued to students and businesspeople. They can also be given to cultural visitors to the US (like tourists or those inan exchange program).
Visa Waiver Program
If you are a short-term visitor from a Visa Waiver Program country (use the Visa Wizard here to check: http://travel.state.gov), you are not required to obtain a visa. You are allowed to travel to and remain inthe US for upto90 days for pleasure or business if you are originally from one of the Program countries. You are still required to hold and present a passport from your issuing country. Itis easy to come intothe US under this program, but itis also easy tobe kicked out. Be sure to cooperate with any officials you encounter, and always follow US laws.
If you are from an eligible country and would like to enter the USon a visa waiver, just show your passport and your ticket back to your country to the officials you’ll see when you arrive in the US.
If you come on ground through Mexico or Canada, you will be required to prove that you have enough money to pay for your time in the US.
Submitting an Application for Immigration Rights
Once you determine which traveling status you qualify for above, you will need to apply using the proper forms. When traveling from most countries, you will obtain your visa at the nearest US consulate before you’llbe allowed in the US. If you are already within the US, you can apply to change your status from nonimmigrant to permanent resident.
Why You Shouldn’t Lie to the US Government
Aside from it being illegal, lying or intentionally misleadingUS border and immigration officials is not a good idea because it jeopardizes your chances of getting a visa or green card immediately or ever. Even if you did somehow get into the USon a lie, you could still always be found out if your file or application is ever reviewed in the future. You would be denied your immigration status and could also be deported from the US.
Here are two examples of how lying on your application or interview with US officials can impact your ability to travel toor reside in the US.
Ramon is from Spain and applies at his local US consulate for a visa to tour the country. He really intends to spend time with his girlfriend in Chicago, but submits his application saying heis going to travel tomany places over a few weeks. When Ramon gets to the US, an immigration official finds a note from his girlfriend in his luggage saying that she is excited heis finally moving to the US. Ramon is sent back toSpain and is not able to travel back to the US for the next five years.
But what if Ramon’s letter hadn’t been found? He stays in Chicago with his girlfriend, and then they decide to get married sohe can really stay permanently. He submits an application to change his status to permanent resident, and US officials send this request to Spain tobe reviewed. At this point, they determine that Ramon deceived officials about why he was traveling to the US. Ramon could at this point be denied the green card status he applied for, and even be forced to leave the country permanently.
Who is Not Allowed to Enter the US
Even if you are eligible to receive some sort of visa by the criteria above, the US can always deny your request. Immigration law allows the US government to say no for simple things like application errors all the way up to crimes and certain diseases.
Have More Questions about Immigration Law?
The US Federal Government manages all immigration law, and the laws are consistent across the country and in consulates and embassies in foreign nations. You will find these laws in Title 8 of the USCode or the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). You can find additional information in Title 8 and Title 22of the Code for Federal Regulations (CFR).
Unfortunately, these laws are incredibly hard to understand – even those with advanced degrees have trouble figuring them all out! It’s a good idea to hire a qualified lawyer who has made it his business tohelp people seeking excitement in the US– whether it’s to study at our colleges or make it your home. Ifyou need professional help to navigate the complicated visa application process, look no further than the Law Office of Yoel Molina.P A.. He experience assisting people just like you with their American Dream. He has the knowledge, insight, and legal expertise to make it happen. Give our office a call and we’d be happy to discuss your legal needs and concerns.Call 305-548-5020 now!