How to Immigrate to the United States
Tourist and Temporary Business Visa’s last up to 90 days and do not permit paid employment. If your country maintains reciprocity with the United States, you may be able to enter freely without a visa for a tourism or business visit and you have authorization through the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA). Passport holders from countries outside of the participating Visa Waiver Program must secure a Visitor Visa (B1/B2) in advance. To reside and work in the United States you must obtain both a visa and work-authorization (i.e. Employment Authorization Document or EAD)
Overall, there are two main pillars of U.S. visas: immigrant and non-immigrant.
- Immigrant-Based Visas: Visas that fall under the "immigrant' category lead to Permanent Residency (i.e. Green Card).
- Non-Immigrant Based Visas: Visas that fall under the "non-immigrant" category generally provide an opportunity to live and work in the United States.
Below we've provided a snapshot for some some overarching immigration categories to the United States of America:
Obtaining A Green Card for the United States
The United States provides immigrant visas based on family ties, employment, adoption, special immigrant categories, and the diversity visa.
A permanent residence card in the United States (i.e. Green Card) allows you to live and work permanently in the country. Applying for a Green Card varies depending on individual situations. Green Card eligibility categories may consist of:
- Green Card through Family
- Green Card through Employment
- Green Card as a Special Immigrant
- Refugee or Asylee Status
- Human Trafficking and Crime Victims
- Victims of Abuse
- Green Card through Registry
- Other Categories
Once a Green Card is obtained there are strict conditions to maintain it. Successfully maintaining a Green Card could result in the eligibility to become a naturalized U.S. citizen.
Becoming a U.S. Citizen
Undeniably, United States citizenship is one of the most coveted in the world. U.S. citizens and passport holders enjoy significant travel freedom, choice of residency in any of the 50 States or additional U.S. territories, and social services, among other benefits. There are four fundamental ways to acquire United States citizenship:
- Citizenship through birth, anyone born within the United States or U.S. territories is automatically granted U.S. citizenship
- Citizenship through acquisition, when a child is born outside of the United States to a parent who is a U.S. citizen (conditions apply)
- Citizenship through derivation, a parent naturalizes any children they have under the age of 18 and residing within the U.S. may automatically gain citizenship
- Citizenship though naturalization, the process of someone born outside of the U.S. who voluntarily becomes a U.S. citizen. Naturalization generally occurs is in the case of: (a) 3 years as a permanent resident who has lived in marital union with a U.S. citizen spouse for at least 3 years; or (b) Qualifying service in the U.S. Armed Forces
Working in the United States
Not all visa holders are permitted to work. Depending on the visa-type, this will provide the legal-basis for whether the visa-holder is authorized to work and obtain a salary within the United States.
The U.S. offers both temporary and permanent resident permits. If you have a permanent residence permit specifying you can work — a green card — or a work permit, you can hold a job amongst many other benefits. Work eligibility depends on the visa category and in some cases the dependent (i.e. spouse or children) of a main applicant is also be permitted to work. For this, you should file for your Employment Authorization Document (EAD) separately.
Overall, those interested in securing a visa to work in the U.S. will quickly discover that the country offers a variety of categories for to explore and apply for.
Get Help With Your Move to the United States
So, how to get to the Land of the Free? This diverse and widespread nation is truly a land of opportunity with endless amounts to offer, however, navigating U.S. Immigration regulations can be daunting and complex.
Find support in your journey through Relocate. Dig-deeper into important topics for immigrating to the United States, and connect with qualified Advisors who can confidently address your U.S. immigration needs.
Get Started. Get Going. Transcend Borders.