Immigrant visas: frequently asked questions

What is an immigrant visa?
A:  An immigrant visa represents a permit to enter the United States for an indefinite period. People who want to move to the United States permanently seek this type of visa. An immigrant visa can be granted for employment, family relationship, business investment or other links with the United States.

Q: What is the difference between an immigrant visa and a nonimmigrant visa?
A:  In general, people who receive immigrant visas are allowed to stay in the United States for as long as they wish. A nonimmigrant visa is usually intended for temporary visitors who are likely to visit the United States for tourism, to seek medical attention, conduct a business or study. Normally, people who are in the United States with a nonimmigrant visa are not allowed to work in the country.

Q: What documents do I need to apply for an immigrant visa?
A:  Generally, you will need a passport, photographs, a birth certificate, a marriage, divorce or death certificate and proof of financial support. You must also take and pass a medical exam. You will be asked for additional documents depending on the reason you are applying for permanent residence.

Q: What is a “green card”?
A:  A “green card” allows the holder to live and work in the United States, often for an indefinite period. People who intend to emigrate to the United States permanently (and obtain a green card) usually have the sponsorship of an employer or family member. However, green cards can be obtained through the diversity lottery and the asylum process, among other means.

Q: What does it take to enter the United States in order to marry a US citizen?
R: The United States citizen must file a petition for fiance with the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). The USCIS will then send approval of the petition to the US embassy or consulate near your home. You will be scheduled for an interview and, if successful, you can enter the United States to marry the US citizen. The deadline for you to travel and get married once your visa is granted is short. After they are married, your U.S. spouse must contact the USCIS to change their status as a permanent resident. This condition is contingent upon their marriage lasting a certain period or demonstrating their legitimacy.

Q: How long can a person stay outside the United States without losing immigrant status?
A:  In general, a legal permanent immigrant must make arrangements to re-enter the United States if he plans to be out of the country for more than a year. These arrangements must be made before leaving the United States.

Q: Why don’t citizens of all countries qualify to participate in the diversity lottery?
A:  Diversity visas aim to offer immigration opportunities to people from countries other than those who already send a large number of immigrants to the United States. The list of countries included in the diversity lottery (in English) is updated every five years, based on immigration statistics.

Q: When should a person hire an immigration lawyer?
A:  Most employers who sponsor foreigners for employment-based immigration have their own lawyers, who will handle the immigration process. Unless it is the employer who handles immigration matters for a potential employee, it is essential that an individual seeking to obtain permanent residence in the United States hire an immigration attorney who is kept informed about U.S. immigration laws. which are very changing.

How to Get Legal Help with the Visa Process

The application process for immigrant and nonimmigrant visas can be complicated and involve many forms and documentation. An immigration lawyer knows how to deal with these changes and how to address immigration judges, the Board of Immigration Appeals, the United States Department of Labor, the Board of Labor Certification Appeals for Foreigners and embassies and consulates of the United States worldwide. The requests of many potential immigrants have been rejected due to technicalities and for not understanding the complexities of US immigration law. An immigration lawyer can help avoid these problems.


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