The US is characterized by being made up of a great free and open society. Citizens from all over the world who come to do business, work temporarily, study or live in the country are welcome in its vast territory. The type of visa required to carry out each of these activities is stipulated in the Immigration Law.
There are two categories of visas:
I. Nonimmigrant Visas
II. Immigrant Visas.
Nonimmigrant visas are issued to foreign nationals who wish to stay in the US temporarily for reasons such as recreation, business, study, or medical treatment. Immigrant Visas, on the other hand, can be obtained through employment or through a family member.
The US government also runs an annual "visa lottery" process to randomly award visas to citizens of certain countries. Below we will see more details about the visas that are most frequently requested globally.
I. NON-IMMIGRANT VISAS
In general, aliens who apply for a nonimmigrant visa must prove that they do not intend to stay in the United States permanently. Although there are more than a dozen Non-Immigrant Visas, we will analyze the ones that are most requested by Spanish-speaking users, which are the following:
B-1 — Temporary Business Visitor Visa: Issued to a foreign business visitor coming to the United States (on behalf of an established foreign corporation) to conduct legitimate business activity incidental to employment. This visa does not allow such visitor to earn income from a source within the United States. A temporary business visitor is usually admitted for a term of 6 months.
B-2 — Temporary Pleasure Visitor Visa: Issued to a foreign visitor coming to the United States as a tourist for pleasure or recreation. This visa does not allow said visitor to earn income from a source within the United States. A temporary visitor for pleasure is usually admitted for a term of 6 months.
E — Contract Trader or Investor Visa: issued to the owner, manager, or employee of a foreign business who needs to remain in the United States to supervise or work in a company or business conducting substantial trade between the United States and a foreign country . This visa requires the existence of a trade agreement between the United States and the native country of the foreign company or investor. A contract trader or investor is originally admitted for a period of 2 years, but this period can be extended indefinitely.
F-1 — Student Visa: issued to a foreign student seeking to enter the United States to engage in academic studies. A foreign student must enroll in a full course of study and must have sufficient means of support to cover him/her during the program.
H-1B — Temporary Professional Worker Visa: issued to a foreigner who is a professional (in a specialty occupation). Said person must have a bachelor's degree (or university degree) in the specific specialty or an equivalent in education and experience. Examples of positions that are considered professional include: doctors, medical technicians, accountants, computer programmers, fashion designers, models, and general managers. The employer must obtain a certification from the Department of Labor indicating that they filed a Labor Condition Application (not a Labor Certification) in the specialty occupation. 65,000 H-1B visas are issued each year. A foreign professional is first admitted for a period of 3 years, which can then be extended to 6 years.
I — Foreign Press Representative Visa: issued to foreign correspondents or representatives of the press, of a foreign or international press organization.
K-1 — Fiancé(e) Visa: Issued to an alien who is the fiancé(e) of a U.S. citizen. The alien who arrives in the United States on a K visa -1 must apply for adjustment of status (after filing the visa application) based on their marriage to the US citizen within 90 days of their admission or entry.
L-1 — Intracorporate Transferee (Multinational) Visa: Issued to a foreign national who is a manager, executive, or an “employee with specialized knowledge” of an international company doing business in the United States. The advantage of the L-1 visa is that the foreigner with an L-1 status is considered a "priority worker" and can eventually adjust her immigration status and become a permanent resident in the United States. The foreigner to move to the United States must have worked outside the country for the foreign company for a continuous period of 1 year within the last 3 years. The foreign company must be a qualified organization and continue to do business during the period of the employee's relocation to the US The US company must be a subsidiary or affiliate of the foreign company. An alien with L-1 status is admitted for an initial period of 3 years which can be extended to 7 years.
O 1 — Visa for Alien with Extraordinary Ability: issued to a foreigner with “extraordinary ability” in the sciences, arts, education, business, or sports. Only a person who has reached the top of their career can qualify for an O-1 visa. Said person has to prove that he enjoys continuous recognition and acclaim at the national or international level. He has to show that he is a prominent person, on the cutting edge, and well known in his career. A foreigner with an O-1 visa is admitted for a period of 3 years.
II. IMMIGRANT VISAS (Granted Permanent Residency in the United States)
Immigrant visas that grant the applicant permanent residence in the United States are divided into 3 main categories which are:
A. Visas based on family relationship with a US citizen or permanent resident; either
B. Through employment in the United States. Therefore,: and employment-based visas.
C. Diversity (or lottery) visas.
Approval of a visa application is not the final step in the process of obtaining residence in the United States. Once the application for a visa is approved, the foreigner can obtain his residence in the United States through an immigration “adjustment of status” process. Otherwise, the immigrant could obtain their visa from the US Consul abroad by following "consular processing."
A. FAMILY-BASED IMMIGRANT VISAS:
a. Immediate Family Members of United States Citizens (no numerical limit)
This type of visa is available to a foreign national who is the spouse, child, or parent of a United States citizen. A US citizen child applying for residency on behalf of his or her alien parent must be at least 21 years of age. An alien child, on behalf of whom a US citizen is applying for residency, must be under the age of 21. An alien who is the widow(er) of a US citizen (who was married for a period of 2 years), can apply for residency in his or her own name within 2 years after the death of his or her spouse( a), if you have not remarried and were not separated at the time of your spouse's death. An alien who is the abused spouse or child of a U.S. citizen may also apply for independent residency, provided he/she shows that he/she entered the marriage in good faith, that lived with the US citizen and suffered extreme cruelty, that he is a person of good moral character, and that his deportation would cause him extreme hardship.
b. Ranked Categories (subject to an annual cap of 226,000)
1st Preference: Unmarried Children of US Citizens: This immigrant visa is available to unmarried children of US citizens over the age of 21. This category (or preference) is assigned 23,400 annual visas, plus those visas that are not used in 4th preference. Immediate relatives of 1st preference beneficiaries (eg, children of a child of a US citizen who is divorced) may immigrate with them.
2nd Preference: Spouses, Children, Unmarried Children of Permanent Residents: This type of residency (or immigrant visa) is made available to an alien who is the spouse, child, or unmarried son of a resident United States permanent. 114,200 annual visas are assigned to the 2nd preference plus those that are not used in the 1st preference. Immediate relatives of 2nd preference beneficiaries (eg, children of a child of a permanent resident who is divorced) may immigrate with them.
3rd Preference: Married Children of US Citizens: This visa is available for married children of US citizens. This category is allocated 23,400 visas annually plus those visas not used by the 1st and 2nd preferences . Immediate relatives of 3rd preference beneficiaries (eg, the spouse and children of a child of a US citizen) may immigrate with them.
4th Preference: Siblings of US Citizens: This visa is available for siblings of a US citizen. As in other categories, immediate family members of 4th category beneficiaries (e.g. spouse(s) a) and the children of a sibling of a US citizen) may immigrate with them.
B. EMPLOYMENT-BASED IMMIGRANT VISAS
1st Preference: "Priority Workers" (EB-1 category limited to 40,000 a year)
-Foreigners with Extraordinary Ability
-Outstanding Professors and Researchers
-Executives and Multinational Managers
This visa, based on employment, is available to foreigners with extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, business or sports; to professors and researchers; and executives and managers (of multinational companies) transferred to the United States. It is worth noting that this visa does not require a "labor certification". The foreigner must demonstrate his extraordinary ability through uninterrupted national and international acclaim. His achievements should be recognized in his field of work through a range of documents. A job offer is not required for an "alien of extraordinary ability," but he must state that he intends to seek work in the United States in his area of expertise. "Outstanding professors" and researchers must have at least 3 years of experience in academia or research and a job offer in the United States. "Executives and managers of multinational companies" must show that they have been employed for a period of 1 year (within the last 3 years) by the international company doing business in the United States.
2nd Preference (EB-2 category limited to 40,000 a year)
-Professionals with Advanced Degree
-Foreigners with Exceptional Ability
This visa category is available to professional aliens with advanced degrees and "aliens of exceptional ability" in the sciences, arts, and business. The so-called EB-2 visa is available to foreigners with university degrees or its equivalent with 5 years of experience. As a general rule, the foreigner must have an offer of employment and a labor certification to obtain this visa. Job offer and labor certification requirements may be waived in the name of a US national interest.
3rd Preference (EB-3 category limited to 40,000 a year)
-Professionals without Advanced Degree
-Other Workers (Unskilled)
The immigrant visa under the 3rd preference is available to professionals, skilled workers, and other (unskilled) workers. The category known as EB-3 requires a job offer in the United States and a labor certification. The EB-3 category does not provide an exception or grace (waiver) to the labor certification requirement. Professionals under this preference are foreigners with a university degree (or its equivalent abroad) and who are members of a profession.
4th Preference (EB-4 Category)
This immigrant visa is available to special immigrants (foreigners who want to reacquire their US citizenship) and religious workers.
5th Preference (EB-5)
The 5th preference immigrant visa is intended for investors who make a substantial investment in the United States and employ US citizens and permanent residents. The purpose of this category is to improve job opportunities in the United States. The investor must invest or be actively in the process of investing at least $1 million in a company. This capital must be put at risk in order to generate a profit. The money invested must be "clean" or obtained legally. The business must benefit the US economy and create full-time jobs for a minimum of 10 US employees. The investor must manage the business. The residence granted under the EB-5 category is conditional. The foreign investor must file a petition to remove the condition within the second anniversary of obtaining residency. Therefore, such residence can be terminated if the alien fails to petition to remove the condition. In addition, such residency may be terminated if it is determined that the new business was formed for the sole purpose of circumventing US immigration laws; if the company was not actually incorporated; if the foreigner did not invest the prescribed capital; or if the foreigner did not maintain the new business venture or investment.
C. DIVERSITY IMMIGRANT VISAS (LOTTERY)
Granted to citizens of "low admission" countries, they are issued randomly (by lottery) and limited to 55,000 visas per year.
The “diversity visas” program is offered to foreign nationals from “low admission countries”. They are issued randomly (by lottery) and are limited to 55,000 visas per year. The purpose of this category is to facilitate the admission of aliens -not eligible for family or work visas- as residents to the United States. The foreigner must be a citizen of a country designated by the Secretary of Justice as one of “low admission”.
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Washington, DC 20005-3142
Telephone: (202) 507.7600
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