Considering getting a work visa or green card and moving to America, either temporarily or permanently?
There are quite a few ways to legally live and work in America, and here are some of the basic ways:
- An American husband or wife may file a marriage green card application for their foreign spouse.
- An American relative may file an I-130 petition for you to be on the green card (permanent resident) waiting list. Wait times are from between 5 months and 25 years. Foreign nationals are not allowed to wait inside the USA unless they obtain some other type of temporary visa. To find out who can be on the waiting list and how long it might take, make sure you check the Visa Bulletin, which is a free report that is issued monthly.
- An American employer may file an I-140 petition for you to be on the green card (permanent resident) waiting list. Wait times and processing of the employer sponsored green card range from 2 to 10 years. Foreign nationals are not allowed to wait inside the USA unless they obtain some other type of temporary visa. To find out how long it might take, check the Visa Bulletin.
- A foreign national, if from an “E Treaty Country,” may invest a minimum of $120,000 USD to purchase an American business that employs three U.S. citizens. The business should already be operating for some period of time before the request for a temporary E-2 Investor Visa(which can be renewed indefinitely so long as the business is successfully operating). It is difficult to arrange to purchase an American business from outside the USA; many foreign nationals request to enter the USA with a B1 visa to make the arrangements). However, the E-2 visa normally does not lead to permanent residence (green card).(4)
- A foreign national may invest a minimum of $500,000 USD in an existing American business enterprise that employs ten U.S. citizens. The business must stay in operation for at least 5 years in order for the investor to obtain permanent residence (the EB5 Investment Green Card). There is a list of eligible American businesses, but they are not guaranteed risk free by the American government.
- An American employer may file a request for a temporary Work Visa for you. Most work visas allow foreign nationals to enter and work in America for time periods extending from 6 months to 7 years. Most work visas (H-1B Visa, H1B1 Singapore,
H1B1 Chile, E3 Visa and TN Visa) require a 4 year college degree. Other work visas (J, M, H-2B, H-3) may not. It would be good to figure out which work visas you may be eligible for before applying for a job with an American employer.
- A foreign national may enroll in an American school while still living abroad and the school will help obtain an F-1 (student) visa to enter the USA and attend school. American schools can be contacted directly through their websites.
There are more ways to move to America, but this gives you an idea of what is available. If you are having difficulty figuring out which temporary work visa or permanent visa you might be eligible for, you may find it helpful to hire an immigration attorney to help you figure it out.
Call Danielle Nelisse at (619) 235-8811 in San Diego, California if you want to discuss legal representation for your immigration case – there is no charge for a brief telephone call or email questions.
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