This article provides information on the most common ways individuals can become U.S. citizens. There are primarily three routes an individual can pursue to becomming a U.S. citizen, there are: citizenship via family, citizenship via employment and lastly, citizenship via the green card lottery, which will not be discussed in this article.
A lot of people get green cards through their own family members. If you are an immediate relative of a US citizen then you may be eligible automatically and this is a very common way to obtain citizenship in the state. You may be a spouse or you may have unmarried children that are under the age of 21. You may also be a parent of the petitioner; however they need to be 21 or over in order to fully qualify.
If you don't meet these requirements then it is possible for you to still get a green card. After all, you could be a family member of a US citizen and you may fit into a preference category. This can include unmarried sons, brothers, daughters or sisters that are over the age of 21 and those who may be related to the petitioner, but 21 years old or over.
As you can see, there are plenty of ways in which you can get a green card via your family members but there are other requirements that you need to meet as well if you want to be fully eligible for the green card. There are of course other relationships that qualify for the green card however you would need to talk to your visa advisor about this before you go ahead with your application. For example, some of them include a battered spouse or a child, a person who has been born to a foreign diplomat in the US and a widow(er) of someone who is in the United States as a citizen.
Don't delay and contact your visa advisor today to see if you qualify for a family green card and see what you need to do in order to make your application a successful one.
K-1 Fiance Visa
A K-1 visa is also known as a fiance visa. The visa is issued to the fiance or fiancee of a U.S. Citizen that enters the United States. The K-1 visa requires that the foreigner must marry his or her U.S. Citizen petitioner within 90 days of the entry or they’ll have to leave the United States within 30 days. This visa is not for permanent residence however. Once the couple is married the foreigner must adjust their status to become a lawful and permanent resident of the U.S.(also known as a Green Card Holder). The majority of the K-1 visas that are applied for are granted.
Before one can even fill out a K-1 visa, a couple must have met each other within 2 years of filing. It’s important that the person filing has evidence collected that the couple met in person before filing out a K-1 visa application. All evidence must be submitted with the petition. The American is the one who needs to begin the process of petitioning a foreign fiancee by filling out a I-129 form with the United States Citizenship and Immigration services. Once the petition is received and the proper fees are collected, a background check is then started.
A visa interview has to be scheduled with the U.S. Embassy. At the interview a Consular officer reviews the paper work of both the American petitioner and the foreign fiance. Evidence is looked over to establish a relationship between the two. Also, the interviewer looks over the American’s income level and ensures that thy meet the minimum income requirements. The U.S. petitioner must meet or exceed 100% of the U.S. Poverty guidelines. The consular will only issue a visa if he thinks there is a definite relationship that meets all the necessary requirements.
The visa should only be given to fiance’s who are in a serious relationship with an American citizen.
There are a couple of ways in which you can immigrate based on a job offer. For example, you may be allowed to become a permanent resident of the US if you are employed in the states. A lot of categories require you to have an employer that has a certificate of labour. On top of this, they will also need to file an I-140 on your behalf. You can also get a green card through an investment, so if you are an entrepreneur and you want to create an enterprise that will in turn into new jobs for US citizens, you can do so while getting permanent residency at the same time.
Another way to get a green card would be through a self petition. Some categories allow you to file a petition for yourself and you can get this if you have an extraordinary ability or if you have a national waiver.
If you don't qualify for any of these then you will be glad to know that you can also obtain a green card by taking part in a specialist job or position. Some of these include a Panama canal employee, a religious worker, a broadcaster or an Iraqi translator.
It should be noted that some of these positions require more documentation when compared to others, and that it may be a good idea to contact your visa professional before you apply for a position to make sure that it is the right one for you.
In some instances, you may not be eligible for any of these but that doesn't mean that you can't get a green card at all, there are plenty of other ways in which you can obtain one and some of them are easier when compared to others.
H1-B Temporary Work Visa
If you’re in an individual hoping to come to work in the United States temporarily as a non-immigrant, U.S. Immigration law requires that you obtain a visa specific to the type of work you will be doing. Most of the temporary worker categories require that your current employer or agent file a petition on your behalf. This petition must be approved by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services in the United States before you can apply to receive a work visa.
An applicant hoping to obtain an H1-B temporary work visa must have a petition approved by the USCIS. The H-1B visa is for people who have a specialty occupation. It’s required if you are coming to the US to perform services in a pre-arranged professional job. There are requirements you must have in order to obtain this visa. To qualify for one, you must hold a bachelor’s or higher degree in the specific specialty job you need the visa for. The USCIS themselves will determine if your employment is really a specialty occupation and if you’re qualified to perform those services. You’re not the only one expected to file paperwork however, You’re employer is required to file a labor condition application with the Department of Labor that have to do with the terms and conditions of the contract of employment they have with you.
To apply for this visa, an individual must complete an Nonimmigrant Visa Electronic Application form and pay a visa fee along with it. Then, an interview appointment with the U.S. Embassy must be scheduled. People who do not attend the interview or do not submit a completed application will not be accepted in to this visa program.
This visa program is a great one for anyone who has a specialty occupation they are exceptional at and that could truly be of benefit to the U.S.
H-2B Temporary Work Visa
An individual who wants to work in the U.S. on a temporary basis as a non-immigrant must, under United States law, obtain a specific visa to do so. This visa is issued based on the type of work that you do. An H2-B visa is a category that requires your employer or agent to file a petition on your behalf that must be approved by the U.S.Citizenship and Immigration Services. Once this is approved by them, you can then go on to apply for a work visa.
An H-2b visa is for workers who are skilled or have an unskilled jobs. An H-2B visa is specifically for those who are coming to the United States to perform a job that is seasonal or temporary in nature. These jobs also must have a shortage of U.S. Workers to perform them. To prove this, your employer has to obtain a Department of Labor certification confirming that there are no U.S. Workers who are qualified or eligible for the type of work your visa will be based on.
The U.S. Embassy will process your application up to 90 days before the beginning of your employment status. However, you’re only able to enter the U.S under that visa 10 days before your work begins.
To apply for this visa, you must first complete the Non-immigrant Visa Electronic Application form also known as a DS-160. You must pay the visa application fee unless it is being sponsored by the U.S. Government itself. Schedule your appointment with the U.S. Embassy. You must schedule and show up to the interview in order to have your visa accepted. An incomplete application and interview process will result in a visa petition not being accepted.
Anyone who thinks they have a unique skill that can’t be performed by an American worker should sign up for this visa.
R-1 Religious Worker
An R-1 visa is a type of visa for people who are seeking to enter the United States to work in a religious capacity on a temporary basis as it is defined in The immigration and Nationality Act. Religious workers include people who are cleared by a recognized entity to conduct religious worship and undertake duties usually performed by authorized members of the clergy of that religion. The visas also can be used by workers engaging in a religious vocation or occupation.
In order to be qualified as a religious worker you must be a member of your denomination for two years immediately prior to your application for religious worker status. You must be planning to work as a minister of your denomination, or in a religious occupation vocation for an approved nonprofit religious organization. If you’ve spent five years with this church, you must have resided and been physically present outside of the U.S. for the year before the application.
Although you don’t have to prove that you have a residence abroad that you have no intention of abandoning, you must intend to leave the United States at the end of your visa’s expiration date. Prior to applying for a visa, your church must file an I-129 petition for a non-immigrant worker for the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration services. Once the petition is approved, you must complete the Nonimmigrant Visa Electronic Application DS-160 form. You must pay the visa application fee. After the application fee has been submitted, you need to schedule an interview with the U.S. Embassy. You must submit a complete application and go through an entire interview in order to be approved for a visa.
This visa should only be used by people who are genuinely interested in coming to the United States for the purpose of spreading religion.
L-1 Intra Company Transfer
An L-1A non-immigrant classification enables a U.S. Employer to transfer their executive or manager from on of their affiliate officers to one of their offices in the United States. This classification also allows a foreign company that does not yet have an affiliated U.S. office to send an executive or manager to the U.S. to open one. In order for the employee to qualify for this classification, the employer must file a I-129 petition for a non-immigrant worker with fee on behalf of their employee. In order for someone to qualify for an L-1 classification they must have a qualifying relationship with a foreign company. While that employee is in the united states, they must be doing business for the employer overseas. The business has to be viable, but they do not have to be involved in international trade.
The employee can’t merely show their presence at the company in the United States. He must be regularly conducting provisions of good and/or services. The employee also must have been working for the company for one continuous year three years prior to traveling to the U.S. The employee can only be serving in an executive or managerial position.
The executive capacity refers to the employees ability to make decisions across a wide latitude without having to use oversight. A managerial capacity refers to the ability of the employee to supervise and control the work of other employees in the company. This position might also allow a manager the function of organizing a high level without the supervision of others.
The employer must show that they have a secure and sufficient physical premise to house a new office. The office must be able to support an executive or managerial position within one complete year of the approval of the petition. The maximum amount of time for the initial stay is one year.
O-1 Extraordinary Ability Visa
The O-1 Extraordinary Ability visa is a visa for a person who posses an extraordinary ability within the science, arts, education, business or athletics community. They also may have proven a record of extraordinary achievement within the motion picture or television industry. They must have been recognized nationally or internationally for those achievements.
In order to qualify for this visa, you must have a proven ability to have a continual amount of acclaim both nationally and internationally. You must be coming to the U.S. temporarily to continue to work in the area you have a proven ability for. To have an extraordinary ability in the field of art, you must be distinct from other artist out there. This means your art must have a very high level of achievement in the field recognized by acclaim putting you above other artist. The same can be said about athletics, business, education and the move or television field.
The initial period of stay for this visa is up to 3 years. The USCIS will determine if extensions of stays are necessary and grant them in up to 1 year increments. The beneficiary may only work in authorized employment during the validity period of the petition. Before you can apply for a visa, a petitioner can file an I-29 form on the beneficiaries behalf.
Any spouse or children under the age of 21 can apply to obtain an O-3 non-immigrant visa. The visa is eligible for the same period as the initial beneficiary of the O-1 visa. They are not eligible under this visa to work, but they can engage in full or part time study under the O-3 visa. If you want to change employers once you reach the U.S., that employer needs to be the one to file an I-129 form.
You should only apply for this visa if you consider yourself to be the very best in your field.
P-1 Individual or Team Athlete, or Member of an Entertainment Group Visa
The P-1 classification applies to those that are coming to the U.S.to temporarily perform at a specific athletic competition as an athlete. The athlete can work as an individual or as part of a group or team at an internationally recognized level of performance. You must already be recognized with a high level of achievement and be coming to the states to perform in an individual event, competition or performance.
If you’re apart of a team, under the P-1 classification you must be coming to the U.S. to participate in team events and must have obtained international recognition within the sport. The event your team is participating in has to be distinguished. It also requires the participation of other athletic teams that have international recognition.
To come to the U.S. under this classification, your U.S. employer has to file an I-129 form on your behalf.Then an application must be submitted complete with the proper documentation and matching fees. The petition should prove that the individual traveling to the states alone or in a team has participated in sports for a significant extent in a prior season before the event in the states takes place. An interview also needs to be scheduled with the U.S. Embassy. An incomplete petition, application and interview can result in this classification being denied.
An individual athlete can stay in the country for the time of the complete event or competition. This event should not exceed 5 years. An athletic group can also stay in the states during the complete time of the event. In a group situation, the event can’t exceed more than 1 year. Spouses and unmarried children under the age of 21 must obtain a P-4 status. Your dependents can not work while in the U.S., but they can attend school or college.
P-2 Artist or Entertainer
A P-2 classification applies to someone who is coming to the U.S.temporally to perform as an entertainer or artist either alone or in part of a group. They must be performing under a reciprocal exchange program between an organization built in the U.S. and an organization in another country. To be eligible for a P-2 classification you must be entering the U.S. through a government recognized exchange program. Along with this, you must be an artist or entertainer that possess skills that compare to artist and entertainers in the states that are taking part in the same program outside of the United States.
In order to qualify for a P-2 visa, a sponsoring labor organization in the U.S. must file an I-29 form on your behalf. If your employer is in the U.S., they can file an I-129 petition on your behalf as well. Once the petition is approved, you can apply at a U.S. Embassy or consulate for the visa. You must also pay an application fee and set up an interview. Having an incomplete application and interview could result in a denial of your visa. The initial stay period in the states is equal to the length of the event, it should not exceed 1 year. You can apply for an extension of up to 1 year in 1 year increments.
You’re free to change employers, but only if the new employer files a new I-129 form on your behalf. Your spouse or unmarried children under the age of 21 can enter the states with you as long as they obtain a P-4 status. They can’t be employed, but they can attend school or college.
Since support personnel is an important part of an artist or entertainers work, they can also apply for a separate P-2 classification so that they can assist with the event.
P-3 Artist or Entertainer
A P-3 classification is given to an artist or entertainer who wants to come to the United States temporarily to teach, perform or coach other entertainers. They can apply for this classification as an individual or part of a group under a program that is culturally unique. In order to qualify for this classification, you must be coming to the states and partaking something that is unique or traditional of a certain ethnicity or culture. You can be performing in a musical, theatrical or artistic performance. The event you are coming to the U.S. for must be a cultural event or an event that educated others in the development of your art form. The event can be of a commercial or a noncommercial nature.
To start the classification process, your U.S. employer must submit a I-129 form for a non-immigrant worker. Once the petition is approved, an application can be filed. After the application is filed, you need to set up an interview with the U.S. Embassy. If the application or interview is not completed, this could result in denial of the classification.
The period of stay under this classification is the length of the event that must not exceed 1 year. Extensions of up to 1 year can be granted. You may change employers, but they must file a new form I-129. Spouses and unmarried children may travel with the classification holder as long as they apply for a P-4 visa. The spouses and children can’t work, but they go to school or even college.
Because support personnel is so important to artists and entertainers, they can also apply for a P-3 classification as long as their work is an integral part of the performance. They do have to prove however that their services are unique and can’t be performed by another U.S. worker.
Crash Course Guide to Temporary US Employment Visas
Foreign citizens wishing to enter the U.S are required to obtain a travel visa, either an immigrant visa for permanent stay or non-immigrant visa for temporary stay. Temporary employment visas are for people who wish to enter the U.S. for the employment reasons lasting for a certain period of time, and they are not considered indefinite or permanent. Each visa requires a petition of employment from the employer to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). The petition has to be approved first before applying for a temporary employment visa.
Temporary Employment Visa Categories
H-1B: Persons in Specialty Occupation - This is for work in specialized occupations. Requires a higher degree or the equivalent.
H-1B1: Free Trade Agreement Professional for Singapore, Chile - For work in specialized occupations. Requires applicants to have a post-secondary degree with at least four years of study in a specialized field.
H-2A: Temporary Agricultural Employment - For seasonal or temporary agricultural employment.
H-2B: Temporary Non-agriculture Employment - For seasonal or temporary non-agriculture employment. Limited to a number of certain countries.
H-3: Special Education Visitor or Trainee - For people receiving training that is not academic or graduate medical, and not available in the applicant’s home country.
L: Intracompany Transferees - For people who will work at a parent, subsidiary, affiliate or branch of their employer in an executive or managerial capacity, or in a position that requires specialized knowledge.
O: Individuals with Special Achievements or Abilities - For people with special abilities or achievements in the arts, education, sciences, athletics, sciences, business, or extraordinary skills in television and motion picture.
P-1: An Individual or Team Athlete or Member of An Entertainment Group - For such persons to perform at certain athletic competitions or as part of an entertainment group.
P-2: Artist or Entertainer (Group or Individual) - For certain performances under reciprocal exchange programs between a U.S. organization and one from another country.
P-3: Entertainer or Artist (Group or Individual) - To teach, coach or perform in certain programs that are traditionally ethnic or culturally unique, musical, artistic, folk or theatrical presentation or performance.
Q-1: Participant of An International Cultural Program - For employment and practical training and for sharing traditions, culture and history of the applicant’s home country by taking part in an international cultural exchange program.
How to Apply
Upon the approval of the Petition for Non-immigrant Employment by the USCIS (Form I-129), applicants may apply for their visa. The application process involves several steps, and these may vary greatly depending on the U.S. Embassy, Consulate or applicant’s nationality.
After making an application, certain applicants may be required to attend an interview at a location set by the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in the applicant’s country. Although interviews are not required for certain ages, consular officers can request an interview for any applicant at their own discretion.
- US Department of State (https://travel.state.gov/content/visas/en/immigrate/employment.html)
- USCIS (https://www.uscis.gov/working-united-states/permanent-workers)
- US Embassy (http://www.usembassy.gov/)