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Immigration and Citizenship: A Guide for New Immigrants

America is a developed country with access to all the modern amenities and advanced technologies. It has become a famous spot for immigrants, and every year, thousands of applicants apply for immigration in the country from all over the globe. 

Similar to other countries, the United States has legal criteria for getting a visa for immigration to the country. Here is a comprehensive guide for new and potential immigrants that will help them understand the basics of eligibility and immigration procedure. Whether you are looking for a student visa or a work visa, we cover several aspects related to immigration below. 

Immigrant visas vs. non-immigrant visas

When an immigrant decides to move to America, they will require either a non-immigrant visa or immigrant visa. The difference between the two types of visas is that a non-immigrant visa helps the applicant stay in the country temporarily while an immigrant visa lets them become a permanent resident and eventually US citizen. 

While both types of visas can be obtained through several different routes, immigrant visas (such as the Green Card Lottery) require extensive documentation and background checks. One can choose to consult immigration lawyer before proceeding to have a clearer understanding of the process. 

  • Immigrant visa 

An immigrant visa is a document issued by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) that allows immigrants to enter, work or reside in America. This is also known as an Alien Registration Receipt Card (green card).

It is proof that the immigrant has been admitted for permanent residence in the United States. After receiving an immigrant visa, there are several conditions to be met before moving to America, including background checks and medical examinations. 

Immigrant visas are further divided into two categories: immediate relatives and family preference visas. Those who share close and direct relations will be given preference over the other relations. 

  1. Immediate relative visas: This type of visa is given to spouses, children and parents (if the immigrant is over 21 years old) of a US citizen. When the immigration process is complete, immediate relatives can apply for citizenship in America after five years. You can proceed with the application with the help of an immigration lawyer in PA. The legal professional will help you in fulfilling the application requirements and completing the eligibility criteria. 
  2. Family-preference visa – These types of visas are given to unmarried people (21 years and above) of any age. These visas are further divided into two categories: First Preference and Second Preference. The former is given to the spouses, children and unmarried siblings of a US citizen while the latter is given to the unmarried sons and daughters (21 years and above) of permanent residents.

There is a limit for the number of applications that may be approved for family preference visas. You should seek assistance from a reputable immigration lawyer in Pennsylvania to obtain more information about the legal process. 

  • Non-immigrant visa

Non-immigrant visas – sometimes referred to as temporary visas – are for those who wish to enter the United States temporarily for a specific purpose. They can include tourists, students, workers and diplomats. For example, if an immigrant wants to come to America on a work visa then they will be required to show that potential employers have already offered them a job (the applicant will not be allowed to work for any other company during that time). These visas can also be extended or changed if necessary.

Foreign nationals can apply for this visa directly through the U.S. Embassy or the U.S. consulate. You will need to have all the details and paperwork ready before proceeding to the application process. The USCIS will review the application and grant the visa based on the documents you have provided. 

Here are some of the common types of non-immigrant visas that one can choose to apply for: 

  1. Work visa – Individuals who wish to enter the country for employment purposes can consider applying for a work visa. If an immigrant wants to work in the U.S. then they must first receive sponsorship from an American employer who is willing to hire them (they cannot apply for a work visa themselves). The U.S. employer will also be required to prove that the position meets some of the requirements set out by the Department of Labor. Visas are usually divided into different types depending on where applicants will work. 
  2. Student visa – If it is an immigrant’s dream to study in the United States then they must obtain a student visa. These are divided into two categories: regular and vocational. A regular student visa requires applicants to prove that they have received an acceptance letter from an American college or university while a vocational student visa is for those who want to learn new skills in order to return home after their education is complete. 
  3. Business visa-  If an immigrant wants to come to the U.S. on business then they must first receive approval from the Department of Commerce. They can do this by applying to a U.S. consulate or embassy for a temporary business visa. This is the only way that an immigrant can receive permission to work in America and they must be sponsored by a company or government agency who will act as their sponsor until their immigration status has been confirmed. For instance, a B1 visa is a temporary business immigration travel visa. You will have to prove that the purpose of travel is legitimately work-related. 
  4. Tourist visa – If an immigrant wants to come to the United States of America as a tourist then they will be required to obtain a visitor’s visa from the Bureau of Consular Affairs. To obtain a visitor’s visa, immigrants must prove that their trip is temporary and they will leave the country after their visit. However, even if the visitor’s visa is approved, an immigrant can still be denied entry to the U.S. if they are believed to pose a threat to the country.

Documents required for visa application 

Whether you are applying for a visitor visa or a permanent immigrant visa, you will be required to meet the criteria and submit required documents. Without proper records, you may not be able to obtain a visa. Here we have listed the essential documents that may be required for the application. 

  • Passport valid for travel to the U.S.
  • Form DS-160 confirmation page for a non-immigrant visa
  • Passport size photographs 
  • Financial evidence
  • Application fee payment receipt 
  • Police clearance certificate
  • Medical examination report 
  • Proof that you will be able to incur all the costs for a travel-related trip 
  • DS-260 Form application for immigration visa 
  • Documentation supporting the purpose and intent of the travel 
  • Other supporting documents required in accordance with the visa application requirements

You can contact a Pennsylvania immigration lawyer to understand more about the documents you may require for the particular visa you are seeking. For immigrant visas, the U.S. sponsor will also have to submit legitimate documents proving the relationship exists. 

Pennsylvania Immigration attorneys know the process

The U.S. receives hundreds of thousands of visa applications each year. To improve your chances of being approved, you need to ensure that you have all the documents ready and meet the eligibility criteria. You can ensure that you fulfill all the requirements with the help of a legal professional. 

Consult an experienced Pennsylvania immigration lawyer to discuss your immigration questions


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