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TYPES OF VISAS

Immigrant Visas

Immigrant visas (visas which give permanent resident status) are generally either employment - or family based. Applicants must fit the following criteria:

Employer-sponsored petitions:

The foreign national generally must be sponsored by a U.S. employer. For certain types of applicants, labor certification is required through the Program Review Electronic Management (PERM) process. This process, handled through the Department of Labor, ensures that a shortage of qualified U.S. workers exists before the applicant can fill the job.

Employer-based immigration categories are as follows:

First Preference - EB-1

Includes workers of extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics, outstanding professors and researchers, and multinational executives and managers. This class doesn't require labor certification.

Second Preference - EB-2

Includes workers of exceptional ability in the sciences, arts, or business, and professionals with advanced degrees. With some exceptions, labor certification is required.

Third Preference: EB-3

Includes professionals with at least a bachelor's degree, skilled workers with at least two years experience, and other workers with at least two years experience.

Fourth Preference:

Includes religious workers, such as ministers, priests and monks, or professionals and others working in a religious occupation.

Fifth Preference:

Includes foreign nationals investing in the US.

Family-sponsored petitions:

US citizens can sponsor relatives from abroad. The types of relatives who qualify fall into two categories:

Immediate relatives:

  • Spouses of US citizens.
  • Unmarried children, under 21, of US citizens.
  • Parents of US citizens. The citizens must be at least 21 years of age.

Nonimmediate relatives:

  • First preference - unmarried sons or daughters of US citizens who are 21 years of age or older.
  • Second preference - unmarried sons or daughters of permanent residents.
  • Third preference - married sons or daughters of US citizens.
  • Fourth preference - brothers or sisters of US citizens who are at least 21 years of age.

Please note that because this category requires a visa number, applicants must wait for a visa number, creating lengthy delays before non immediate relatives will receive permanent resident status

Nonimmigrant Visas

There are many different temporary visas allow an alien to enter the United States for a specified period of time and for a specific purpose. Below are some of the classes of nonimmigrant visas:

B1-B2 Visas:

Visas for temporary visitors to the US. The B-1 visa encompasses business visitors and domestic employees accompanying an employer, while the B-2 visa is for visitors seeking medical treatment here and tourists. Visitors can remain in the US only up to their authorized length of stay, though extensions of stay may be granted.

F and M Visas:

Visas designed for academic and vocational students seeking to study fulltime at a certified school. This visa allows students to live here for the duration of their studies, and they must return to the country of their origin after completing their courses of study.

Extensions of stay are based on status as a full-time student.

H-1B Visa:

A visa for an occupation defined as a specialty occupation. Some examples of specialty occupations are engineering, accounting, finance, medicine, and law. To apply for an H-1B visa, the applicant must be sponsored by a U.S. employer. A change of jobs requires submitting a new application.

E Visa:

The E Visa applies only to aliens originating in countries with which the US has a treaty. E-1 visas are limited to those who seek entry for the purposes of carrying on substantial trade, while E-2 visas are limited to those who have invested or are in the process of making an investment in a business here.

O Visa:

This is available to highly talented or acclaimed individuals, such as artists, athletes, entertainers, scientists, and business people. No limit exists on the duration of stay; authorization to stay depends on the activity that brings the alien to the US.

P Visa:

Performing entertainers and athletes may qualify for the P visa. P-3 visas are more appropriate for group of artists who will be in the United States for a specific period of time and fall under the category of "culturally unique" artists.

R Visa:

The R visa is open to religious workers who wish to enter the United States to continue their vocation within a religious denomination that has a bona fide, nonprofit organization here.

TN Visa:

This visa applies only to Canadian and Mexican nationals employed in one of 63 professions listed under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). Duration of stay can't exceed one year, and one-year extensions can be granted.

K-1 Fiancé Visa:

A US citizen engaged to a foreign national can file a petition to help the fiancée obtain a visa to enter the US. The two parties must marry within 90 days of the fiancée’s entry into the country, and the alien spouse must then file to register permanent residence or adjust status.

K-3 and K-4 Visas:

A foreign national spouse of a US citizen can immigrate to the US on a K-3 visa. If there are children of the marriage, they will be able to immigrate on a K-4 visa provided that the immigrant parent is in K-3 status. The US citizen spouse must file the appropriate petitions to enable his or her spouse and children to enter the country. K-3 and K-4 visas allow the visa holders to live in the US while applying for an immigrant visa.