How to Immigrate to the United States
To Immigrate to the United States is a dream for many people worldwide. The United States is known for its diverse culture, super economy and of course an excellent quality of life. However, the United States immigration system can be complex and confusing. There are so many different pathways to immigrate to the United States it can be difficult to choose the right one, let alone understand all the different with various types of visas and requirements to meet.
In this article we guide you through the different visa options available to immigrate to the United States. But we don’t just stop there, we examine their eligibility requirements, processing times, costs and whether they can convert to permanent residence and citizenship.Alternatively our AI Free Visa Assessment can do all the hard work for you and simply let you know what visas might be worth looking at. Take a Free Visa Assessment.
Immigrate to the United States with Family Based Visas
If you have a close family member who is a U.S. citizen or permanent resident then you’re in luck! You might be eligible for a family based visa. These visas allow immediate relatives, spouses, children, parents and siblings of U.S. citizens and permanent residents to immigrate to the United States. The processing time for this type of visa can take up to 12 months, and the cost is around $1,760. Family based visas can convert to permanent residence, and after a certain period, the visa holder can apply for citizenship.
Employment Based Visas
If you have secured a job offer from a U.S. employer or if you are an entrepreneur looking to invest in the United States then you may be eligible for an employment based visa. These visas allow foreign nationals with skills, education, or experience to work and live in the United States.
The are five employment based visa categories:
- EB-1: For individuals with extraordinary ability, outstanding professors and researchers, and multinational executives and managers.
- EB-2: For individuals with advanced degrees or exceptional ability.
- EB-3: For skilled workers, professionals, and other workers.
- EB-4: For special immigrants, such as religious workers, broadcasters, and foreign medical graduates.
- EB-5: For investors who are willing to invest a minimum of $900,000 in a U.S. business.
The eligibility requirements and processing times for employment based visas vary depending on the category. The processing times are on average 4 months and the costs for these visas vary from $700 to $3,675. Most employment based visas can convert to permanent residence and eventually citizenship.
Immigrate to the United States with the Diversity Visa Lottery
The Diversity Visa Lottery (also known as the Green Card Lottery) is a program that allows individuals from countries with low rates of immigration to the United States to apply for a permanent residence visa. The Green Card Lottery is held once a year and applicants are selected randomly.
To be eligible for the Diversity Visa Lottery you must be from a qualifying country and have a high school education or equivalent. The processing time for the Diversity Visa Lottery can take up to two years to process and the cost for the Diversity Visa Lottery is free.
Refugee and Asylum
If you are a refugee you may be eligible for a visa to live and work in the United States. Refugees are individuals who are outside their country of nationality and cannot return due to a fear of persecution based. Asylum seekers are individuals who are already in the United States and have applied for asylum. The processing time for refugee and asylum visas can take up to three years and the refugee and asylum visas is free of cost.
If you wish to study in the United States student visa is the right way to go. The two categories of student visas are F-1 visas for academic study and M-1 visas for vocational study.
To apply for a student visa you must be accepted by a U.S. school or university and hold a valid passport. The processing time for student visas takes around four months to process. The cost for student visas is $160. Student visas do not convert to permanent residence but after completing their studies students can apply for a post graduate work visa.
Tourist and Business Visas
If you wish to visit the United States for a short period for tourism or business you may be eligible for a B-1 or B-2 visa. The B-1 visa is for individuals traveling to the United States for business purposes, such as attending meetings or conferences. The B-2 visa is for individuals traveling for tourism or medical treatment.
The processing time for tourist and business visas can take up to 11 weeks to process. The cost for tourist and business visas is $160. Tourist and business visas do not convert to permanent residence or citizenship.
The United States has the following investor visa options:
- EB-5 visa
- E-1 visa
- E-2 visa
The EB-5 visa requires a minimum investment of $900,000 in a U.S. business that will create ten full time jobs. The processing time for the EB-5 visa an take up to several years to process. The cost for the EB-5 visa is $17,000.
The E-1 and E-2 visas are for individuals who wish to invest in a U.S. business and engage in international trade. The processing time for the E-1 and E-2 visas can take up to 11 months to process. The cost for the E-1 and E-2 visas is $160. Investor visas can convert to permanent residence and the visa holder can eventually apply for citizenship.
Prospective Marriage Visa
Fiancé(e) visas are available for individuals engaged to a U.S. citizen, and the processing time is up to 12 months. The cost for fiancé(e) visas is around $265.
Special Immigrant Visas
The United States offers special immigrant visas for certain individuals including Afghan and Iraqi translators, Afghan and Iraqi nationals who worked for the U.S. government or military and religious workers.
H-1B Visa for Skilled Workers
The H-1B visa is a non immigrant visa that allows skilled workers to work in the United States for up to six years. To be eligible for this visa you must have a bachelor’s degree and the job must require specialized knowledge and skill. The employer sponsoring your visa must also file a petition on your behalf with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). The processing time for an H-1B visa takes around 3 months. The cost for an H-1B visa can range from $460 to $4,000 depending on the employer’s size and the type of petition.
L-1 Visa for Intracompany Transferees
The L-1 visa allows multinational companies to transfer employees from foreign branches to work in the United States. To be eligible for this visa you must have worked for the company for at least one year and hold an executive or specialized knowledge position. The processing time for an L-1 visa takes around 3 months. The cost for an L-1 visa can range from $460 to $4,000.
O-1 Visa for Individuals with Extraordinary Ability
The O-1 visa is for individuals who possess extraordinary ability in the arts, sciences, education, business or athletics. To be eligible for this visa you must demonstrate extraordinary ability in your field and have received national or international recognition for your achievements. The processing time for an O-1 visa takes around seven months. The cost for an O-1 visa can range from $460 to $4,000.
P Visa for Athletes and Artists
The P visa is for athletes, entertainers, and artists who are coming to the United States to perform or compete. There are several subcategories of the P visa such as the P-1 for athletes and P-2 for artists and entertainers who are part of a reciprocal exchange program. The processing time for a P visa takes 14 weeks. The cost for a P visa ranges between $190 to $1,000.
Resources for Immigrants
There are several resources available to help individuals immigrate to the United States and navigate the immigration process
- United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS): USCIS is the federal agency responsible for administering immigration and naturalization laws. The USCIS website provides information on visa categories, eligibility requirements, and application procedures.
- U.S. Department of State: The U.S. Department of State is responsible for issuing visas and maintaining diplomatic relations with other countries. The Department of State website provides information on visa categories, consular services, and embassy locations.
- American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA): AILA is a professional association of immigration attorneys that provides information and resources on immigration law and policy.
- Local Community Organizations: Many local community organizations provide resources and support for immigrants, including language classes, job training, and legal services.
- English as a Second Language (ESL) Classes: Learning English is essential for immigrants to communicate and integrate into American society. There are many ESL classes available through community colleges, libraries, and adult education programs.