USA and the UK
Overview of the US Immigration Options
There are two visa pathways to immigrate to the US; the immigrant or non-immigrant visa options.
US Immigrant Visa
An immigrant visa is issued to foreign nationals looking to reside permanently in the US. It is necessary to present it at the US port of entry if you intend to become a lawful permanent resident or Green Card holder. The US Customs and Border Protection Officers must review and endorse your immigrant visa and the other required paperwork before you can obtain a Green Card.
A non-immigrant visa is a permit issued to foreign nationals for temporary residence in the US based on work, study, or visits. An excellent example of a non-immigrant visa is the Student Visa. If you have been looking for how to move to America with no qualifications, your easiest option might be the Student Visa.
Diversity Immigrant Visa Program – For many people, the easiest way to immigrate to the USA is through the Diversity Visa Program. If you are from a country with a historical record of low visits to the US, you can qualify for a Diversity Visa. However, the odds of winning the DV lottery are small. Getting selected through the lottery qualifies you for an immigrant visa, leading to permanent residency in the US.
Family-based Immigration – If you are an immediate relative of a US citizen, especially if married to a US citizen, it will be easier for you to immigrate to the US through family-based immigration as there are usually no limitations or delays.
Employment-based Immigration – The employment-based Green Card requires that you have a job offer from a US employer, so it is much easier for foreign professionals to go through this route.
Student Visa – The Student Visa is an excellent option for those seeking how to immigrate to USA without a job offer.
Investment-based Immigration – The investment-based option requires you to have a large sum of money to invest in a commercial enterprise in the US.
Educational immigration to the United States
Foreign nationals looking for how to immigrate to the USA without a job offer should consider educational immigration (Student Visa) as one of the easiest ways to achieve this.
To obtain a Student Visa, you must become a full-time student in the US. The Student Visa is a non-immigrant visa split into an F-1 Visa and an M-1 Visa.
Types of Student Visas
The F-1 Visa (Academic Student) is for international students who wish to study full-time at an accredited US university, college, high school, elementary school, conservatory, seminary, academic institution, or language training program. To be eligible for the F-1 Visa, you should be enrolled in the course of study or a program leading up to a degree, certificate, or diploma. Your enrolled school should also be authorized in the US to accept international students.
The M-1 Visa (Vocational Student) is for international students who want to be involved in a vocational study or non-academic program outside language training.
Another alternative for immigrating to the US for educational purposes is the J Exchange Visa, but it is not under the Student Visa umbrella. It is for high schoolers and university students participating in an exchange program in the US.
Who Is Eligible for a Student Visa?
To qualify for F-1 or M-1 Visas, you must:
- Have enrolled in an academic educational program, a vocational program, or a language-training program as a full-time student.
- Have enrolled in a school approved by the Student and Exchange Visitors Program (SEVP).
- Be proficient in English or enroll in a course to improve your proficiency.
- Have sufficient funds to support yourself throughout your US stay.
- Have a residence abroad that you don’t intend to give up.
Documents Needed for a Student Visa Application
The following are the documents you need for your Student Visa application:
- A Passport valid for at least six months beyond your stay in the US, except if country-specific agreements exempt you. If you are taking your dependents along, they must also obtain their passports.
- A Non-immigrant Visa Application (the confirmation page of Form DS-160).
- A passport photograph for filing the Online Form DS-160. It must also meet the photograph requirements.
- Your application fee payment receipt (in case you need to pay before your interview).
- Your Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant (F-1) Student Status as an Academic and Language Student; or Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant (M-1) Student Status as a Vocational Student; or Form I-20.
The first step of your Student Visa application involves you applying to a SEVP-approved school in the US. After the school accepts your application, you will be registered in the SEVIS (Student and Exchange Visitor Information System) and pay the SEVIS-1901 fee.
After making payment, you and your dependents (if you have one) will receive an individual Form I-20 from your school. Your dependents must also enroll in the SEVIS database but do not need to pay the SEVIS fee. Additionally, you must sign Form I-120 alongside your school before applying for the Student Visa at a US Embassy or Consulate and interviewing.
The steps to applying for a Student Visa vary and depend on the US Embassy. The following are the general steps involved:
- Complete the online Form DS-160 and print the application form from the confirmation page to take to your interview.
- Schedule an interview if you are between the age of 14 to 79. It is advisable to schedule an appointment at the US Embassy near you so you don’t miss it.
- Check the estimated wait time for your interview appointment at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate. Wait time varies by location, season, and visa category. Therefore you should apply early to prepare for delays.
- Prepare for your interview and pay the non-refundable visa application fee of $160 (if required before your interview).
If you need help handling your application process, contact our immigration lawyers, as they will provide extensive information concerning the Student Visa. Reach us at +1 844 290 6312 or online.
Immigration to the U.S. with Green Card
The US Green Card (Permanent Resident Card) is a permit issued to foreigners looking to become lawful permanent residents (LPRs) in the United States. It is a physical card representing an immigrant’s right to live and work permanently in the US. You must obtain an immigrant visa which grants you entry to the US at the beginning of your Green Card application process.
Family-Based Green Cards
The United States permits citizens and lawful permanent residents to petition for their dependents overseas to own a Green Card and live in the US indefinitely. If you have a US citizen parent, spouse, child, or sibling, you will likely qualify for a US Green Card.
Due to the number limit on the family-based Green Card applications processed from each country, you should consider applying early so you don’t have to wait another year. However, the following categories of people qualify for a family Green Card and are not subject to any limits or delays:
- The spouse of a US citizen (qualifies for the IR-1 Visa).
- An unmarried child below 21 of a US citizen (qualifies for the IR-2 Visa).
- An orphan adopted by a US citizen abroad (qualifies for the IR-3).
- An orphan adopted in the US by a citizen (qualifies for the IR-4.Visa).
- A parent of a US citizen who is at least 21 years old (qualifies for the IR-5 Visa).
Employment-Based Green Cards
The employment-based Green Card is issued to foreign nationals who wish to reside permanently and work in the US. Typically, the US employer petitions on behalf of the foreign workers to the USCIS (U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services) to obtain the Green Card.
You can qualify for an employment-based Green Card if you belong to any of the five employment-based preference categories below.
Priority (First Preference) Worker – As a priority worker, you possess extraordinary abilities, are an outstanding professor and researcher, or are a multinational executive. It means you will qualify for the EB-1 Green Card.
Highly Skilled Professional (Second Preference Worker) – Second-preference workers qualify for an EB-2 Green Card because they have advanced degrees or exceptional ability in the arts, sciences, or business.
Third Preference Worker – A third preference is a skilled worker with at least two years of training, a professional with a bachelor’s degree, or an unskilled worker with less than two years of training. They qualify for EB-3 Green Cards.
Special Immigrants (Fourth Preference Worker) – This includes religious workers, broadcasters, and Special Immigrant Juveniles who qualify for EB-4 Green Cards.
Investors (Fifth Preference Worker) – Foreigners who wish to invest in a US commercial enterprise that creates jobs for eligible US workers qualify for an EB-5 Green Card. You will see more on this later.
Diversity Lottery Program
The Diversity Immigrant Visa Program, administered by the Department of State (DOS), is held annually to allot 55,00 immigrant visas through a lottery pool. It aims to promote diversity in the immigrant population of the US. To be eligible for the program, you must be a foreign national from a country with a historically low immigration rate to the United States.
Being selected in the Diversity Visa Lottery does not automatically guarantee a Green Card. It simply means you and your relatives are eligible for one. Once selected for the Diversity Visa Program, you must complete a thorough application process, which includes a background check and an interview at a U.S. embassy or consulate. If you meet all the eligibility criteria and pass the interview, you may be granted a visa. Since the DV Program requires you to pay when adjusting your status, the DVP differs from how to go America for free.
You don’t need to pay a fee after filling out the online form, but you must:
- Have a high school diploma or an equivalent; or
- Have two years of work experience; and
- Pass a background check.
Requirements to Adjust Status Under the Diversity Visa Program
Once selected through the lottery, you must adjust your status to obtain permanent residence. You will need the following to do so:
- Show that you were chosen in the lottery.
- Obtain an immigrant visa and have it ready when adjusting your status through Form I-485 (Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status)
- Show that you are admissible to the US.
General Application Process for Green Cards
The different means of obtaining a Green Card vary, but there are still similar processes applicants will go through, which include:
- Selecting an immigrant visa option to obtain the Green Card. It could be family- or employment-based, but you cannot file your petition alone. Your employer, citizen family, or LPR family has to do it for you. Otherwise, you go through the Diversity Visa Program route.
- Filing for a visa application with the US Department of State (if you don’t have an immigrant visa yet) or a Green Card with USCIS following the approval of your petition by the USCIS.
- Going for a biometric appointment to provide photos, fingerprints, and your signature.
- Attending your in-person interview.
- Receiving a decision regarding your application.
The EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program was created to improve the US economy through capital investment and job creation by foreign investors. Foreigners looking to invest in a commercial enterprise in the US or plan to create ten permanent full-time jobs for qualified U.S. workers are eligible for EB-5 Green Card. You can take your spouse or unmarried children under 21 to the US through the EB-5 program.
Who is Eligible for the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program?
To be eligible for the EB-5 program, you must invest in a new commercial enterprise established:
- After November 29, 1990; or
- On or before November 29, 1990, if
- Purchased and restructured in a way that new commercial enterprise forms; or
- Expanded through your investment, leading to a 40% increase in the enterprise’s employees or net worth.
A new commercial enterprise includes but is not limited to sole proprietorship, partnership, joint venture, corporation, business trust, and limited liability company.
Application Process for the Immigrant Investor Program
The following are the steps involved in obtaining a Green Card through investment:
- Firstly, you must petition the USCIS after investing in a US commercial enterprise. You can file a Form I-526 petition as a Standalone Investor or Form I-526E as a Regional Center Investor.
- Following the approval of your petition, you should file DS-260 (Application for Immigrant Visa and Alien Registration) with the US Department of State or Form I-485 (Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status) with the USCIS. You are to file Form I-485 if you didn’t previously file it before the approval of Form I-526 or Form I-526E petitions.
- After the USCIS approval of your Form I-485 application, you will receive a conditional permanent residence for two years.
- Upon arriving in the US, you must file Form I-829 (Petition by Investor to Remove Conditions on Permanent Resident Status) 90 days immediately before the second anniversary of your admission to the United States.
- The condition placed on your lawful permanent residence status will be removed once USCIS approves the petition.
There are many ways of immigrating to the US, which can leave you confused about the best route. We recommend contacting our immigration lawyers as they are experts on the different visas and can provide the information you need.
Our team of attorneys specializes in navigating the intricacies of US immigration law and can assist you with filing and submitting your visa application.
If you have further questions regarding employment-based immigration, family-based Green Card, Student Visa, investment-based immigration, or DV Program, our lawyers can help address your concerns. To find out how our lawyers can help you, contact us online or at +1 844 290 6312.
Last modified on May 22nd, 2023 at 3:45 am
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The waiting time between the time your priority date becomes current is one of the most critical aspects of obtaining a Green Card. You should check the global visa wait time to determine the waiting time per your country and category.
Furthermore, the US Department of State publishes a monthly Visa Bulletin detailing the availability of immigrant visas per category. Therefore, checking the Visa Bulletin occasionally is essential to determine when the priority date becomes current. If you need help reading the Visa Bulletin data, contact our immigration lawyers.
Migrating to the US requires preparing a budget between $1,200 to $8,000. This includes the visa fee, petition filing, and whether or not you are using the help of an immigration attorney.
The E-2 nonimmigrant classification allows a national of a treaty country to be admitted to the United States when investing a substantial amount of capital in a U.S. business. To be eligible for the E-2 classification, the treaty investor must be a citizen of a country that maintains a treaty of commerce and navigation with the US.