The United States is a nation of immigrants. It has a long and complicated history of immigration laws. Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) defines and determines whether a person is an “alien”, and associated legal rights, duties, and obligations of aliens in the United States. It also defines and regulates how one can apply and become U.S. citizen by a process called “naturalization.”
As defined by INA, an "alien" is any person who is not a citizen or a national of the United States. There are also different classifications or categories of aliens: resident vs. nonresident, immigrant vs. non-immigrant, documented vs. undocumented (“illegal immigrant”).
U.S. Congress claims complete authority over immigration to this country. The President has only limited power (executive action) to make policies on political asylees and refugees. Unless the issue concerns the rights of aliens to constitutional protections, the U.S. courts have rarely intruded.
There are mainly two types of visas: immigrant and non-immigrant (nonimmigrant). Non-immigrant visas are divided into eighteen main categories, and the numbers of visas in most categories are not limited. Only a handful categories of non-immigrant visas allow their holders work in the United States. Immigrant visas allow their holders to reside in the United States permanently and the possibility to apply for citizenship after certain requirements are met. An alien who has an immigrant visa (or commonly referred as “GreenCard”) is permitted to work and live in the United States. Congress limits the overall number of immigrant visas per year. Many immigrant visas are also subject to per-country caps or numerical limitations.Non-immigrant Visa Categories:
- B-1 Visas - Business visitors.
- B-2 Visas - Visitors for tourism or medical treatment
- E-1 Visas - Treaty traders working for a U.S. trading company that does 50% or more of its business with the trader's home country.
- E-2 Visas - Treaty investors working for a U.S. company with 50% or more of its investment capital coming from the worker's home country.
- E-3 Visas- Temporary Work Visa for Australian Nationals only.
- F-1 Visas - Academic or language students
- F-2 Visas - Dependents of F-1 visa holders (Spouse and Children under 21).
- H-1B Visas - Persons working in specialty occupations requiring at least a bachelor's degree or its equivalent in on-the-job experience, and distinguished fashion models
- H-2A Visas -Temporary agricultural workers coming to the U.S. to fill positions for which a temporary shortage of American workers has been recognized by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
- H-2B Visa - Temporary workers of various kinds coming to the U.S. to perform temporary jobs for which there is a shortage of available, qualified American workers.
- H-3 Visas - Temporary trainees coming for on-the-job training unavailable in their home countries. Temporary trainees coming for on-the-job training unavailable in their home countries.
- H-4 Visa - Dependents of H-1B visa holders (Spouse and Children under 21).
- J-1 Visas - Exchange visitors coming to the U.S. to study, work, or train as part of an exchange program officially recognized by the U.S. Information Agency.
- K-1 Visas - Fiances or fiancees of U.S. citizens coming to the U.S. for the purpose of getting married.
- L-1 Visas - Intracompany transferees who work as managers, executives, or persons with specialized knowledge.
- O-1 Visas - Persons of extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics.
- P-1 Visas - Internationally recognized athletes and entertainers, and their essential support staff.
- P-2 Visas - Entertainers coming to perform in the U.S. through a government-recognized exchange program.
- P-3 Visas - Artists and entertainers coming to the U.S. in a group to present culturally unique performances.
- Q-1 Visas- Exchange visitors coming to the U.S. to participate in international cultural exchange programs
- R-1 Visas- Ministers and other workers of recognized religions.
- TN-1 Visas - Work visas for Canadians under the NAFTA free trade agreement.
- TN-2 Visas - Work visas for Mexicans under the NAFTA free trade agreement.
- Visa Waiver Program - The Visa Waiver Program (VWP) enables nationals of certain countries to travel to the United States for tourism or business for stays of 90 days or less without obtaining a visa.
Employment Based IV
- EB1- (A) Aliens with extraordinary ability; (B) Outstanding professors and researchers; and (C) Multinational Manager or Executive
- EB2- (A): Foreign Professional holding an Advanced Degree; (B): Exceptional Ability in the Sciences, Arts, or Business (National Interest Waiver-NIW)
- EB3- (A) Skilled Workers - Aliens with at least two years of experience; (B) Professionals with a baccalaureate degree; and (C) Other workers with less than two years experience
- EB3- Schedule A (Registered Nurse and Physical Therapists)
- EB4- Certain Religious Workers
- EB5- Immigration through investment/job creation in U.S. (US$1 million or US$500,000.00 or certain targeted areas)
- Spouse of U.S. Citizen
- Minor Child of U.S. Citizen
- Parent of U.S. Citizen
- FB1- Unmarried Adult Son and Daughter of U.S. Citizens
- FB2-A- Spouse and Child (under 21) of U.S. Permanent Resident (“GreenCard Holder”)
- FB2-B- Unmarried Son and Daughter of U.S. Permanent Resident (“GreenCard Holder”)
- FB3- Married Son and Daughter of U.S. Citizen
- FB4- Brother and Sister of U.S. Citizen
If you are interested in working or living in the U.S., please contact us for more information. We assist client with the following visa services.