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A Simple Primer for Immigration to the United States

Apr 11, 2008
In the last several years, the United State's immigration policies have become topics of much debate. Regardless of your personal opinion on the matter, there are certain truths that we must consider. U.S. Immigration policies and regulation have become more stringent for those who are seeking to visit, work or immigrate in the United States. Below, you will find some important yet basic tips for understanding and hence limiting immigration pitfalls.

There are two ways by which an individual may legally enter the United States; a non immigrant visa, which is for the purpose of a temporary stay, or an immigrant visa which is used to enter the United States permanently.

A visa is a permission given by the U.S. Government for a person to enter the United States. Visas are granted to those who are visiting the U.S. on the grounds of the purpose of the visit. The length of stay permitted will be dependent on the purpose of the beneficiary's activities in the U.S. Visas will also restrict the beneficiary's actions while visiting the United States, such as prohibiting employment or education.

There are several ways to obtain an immigrant visa, these include but are not limited to: family petitions, employment based visas, and the visa diversity lottery program. There are few exceptions such as those granted refugee status and the beneficiaries of a derivative asylee status. For those who qualify and have the financial means to do so an investment opportunity in the United States may lead to temporary or legal permanent residency.

Under the non immigrant visa track, the applicant receives a visa for a certain amount of time. If the visa is based for work or school it will be given for the amount of time needed to complete such objective. The visa has an expiration date that can be extended if circumstances change. The provision of a visa does not guarantee that the holder will be allowed to enter the United States at a given time. Certain visas based on employment and education may require an annual renewal and do not extend till the completion of the objective.

Under the immigrant visa track, the beneficiary will be granted a visa to enter the United States and that will allow them to stay until they are able to complete the process for Lawful Permanent Residence. While most immigrant visas go to family members, there are a significant amount of immigrant visas that are allowed to those entering through employment and investment visas.

Once an individual has been a legal permanent residence for over five years, they may apply to naturalize and become a United States Citizen. This process has many requirements which include a showing of good moral character.

United States immigration policies and regulations are often lengthy and complicated, the application process is expensive and errors are often irreparable. For this reason it is best to seek the advice and assistance of an attorney prior to applying for immigration benefits.
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