There are many US visa options available to people who want to live in America. In general, these include temporary visas to live in the USA for a limited amount of time and permanent resident visas to live in America with a Green Card for an unlimited time period. Both of these US visa categories have options to allow the spouse and dependent children (i.e., under the age of 21 and unmarried) to receive a visa to live in the USA (usually for the same length of time as the main US visa holder). For each of these US visa categories, there are different programs with their own criteria that must be satisfied before a visa is granted.
Temporary US Visas
A temporary US visa authorizes a foreign national to live in America for a limited length of time (which will be specified in the visa that is stamped inside of his/her valid passport). There are around 10 million temporary US visas granted every year for different purposes, including for short-term visitors (e.g., tourism, business, or medical treatment); international students; and foreign workers.
More than 20 different kinds of temporary US visas are available, including the:
- B-1/B-2 Visa (Temporary Visitor for Business or Pleasure)
- E-Visa (Treaty Trader or Investor)
- F-Visa (Academic Student)
- M-Visa (Vocational Student)
- H-Visa (Temporary Worker and Trainee)
- L-Visa (Intracompany Transferee)
- O-Visa (Person with Extraordinary Ability in the Sciences, Arts, Education, Business, or Athletics)
- P-Visa (Internationally Recognized Athlete, Artist or Entertainer)
- R-Visa (Person in a Religious Occupation)
You should be aware that certain temporary US visas (such as the H1-B Work Visa) allow foreign nationals to legally live and work in the USA, while other kinds of temporary US visas (such as the B-1/B2 Visitor Visa) authorize a short-term stay in the USA, but do not permit a foreign national to work in America. The team of professionals at Immigration Solutions Experts can evaluate your best option to live and work in the USA. If you qualify, you can also receive expert guidance through each step of the process to apply for the relevant US visa.
Work Visa to America
If you want to live and work in America for a limited length of time (for example, 1-5 years), you will need to receive a temporary US work visa. There are different eligibility requirements for each of the US work visa programs, which were designed for various kinds of foreign workers. An individual who is approved for a temporary work visa to America will normally have an option for his/her spouse and dependent children (who are under 21 years-old and unmarried) to also receive the relevant temporary US visa for family members. The spouse and dependent children of a temporary US work visa holder will usually be permitted to live in the USA during the time period that the foreign worker is authorized to live and work in America. Many of the temporary US work visa programs have an option for the visa to be extended or renewed beyond the initial validity date if certain criteria are met.
There are several categories and sub-categories of temporary US work visas, including the following:
- Temporary Worker (H-Visa) – Every year, around 500,000 people are approved for an H-Visa, which has these and other visa sub-categories:
- Specialty Occupations (H1-B Visa)
- Temporary Agricultural Workers (H2-A Visa)
- Temporary Non-Agricultural Workers (H2-B Visa)
- Intracompany Transferee (L-Visa) – Approximately 150,000 individuals receive an L-Visa each year through these or other visa sub-categories:
- Intracompany Transferee Executive or Manager (L-1A Visa)
- Intracompany Transferee with Specialized Knowledge (L-1B Visa)
- Person with Extraordinary Ability (O-Visa) – At least 22,000 people are granted an O-Visa annually via these or other visa sub-categories:
- Persons with Extraordinary Ability in Science, Education, Business, or Athletics (O-1A Visa)
- Persons with Extraordinary Ability in the Arts or Extraordinary Achievement in the Television or Motion Picture Industry (O-1B Visa)
- Internationally Recognized Athlete, Artist or Entertainer (P-Visa) – More than 30,000 P-Visas are issued every year through these or other visa sub-categories:
- Internationally Recognized Athlete (P-1A Visa)
- Member of an Internationally Recognized Entertainment Group (P-1B Visa)
- Person in a Religious Occupation (R-Visa) – There are approximately 6,000 religious workers per year who are granted an R-Visa to live in America.
Permanent Resident Visas
Another option to live and work in America is by receiving one of the 140,000 Green Cards authorized to be issued to permanent residents of the United States each year through employment-based US immigration programs. Skilled foreign workers and their family members (i.e., spouse and unmarried children less than 21 years-old) who pass all of the eligibility requirements will have a US immigration visa stamped inside of their valid passports and may then pay a governmental fee to receive a United States Permanent Resident Card (i.e., Green Card). The US immigration visa is used by a new permanent resident to initially enter the United States legally, while the Green Card is carried as identification and proof of Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR) status while living in America.
A permanent resident of the United States is authorized to live in the USA for an unlimited period of time and may also legally work in America. Additionally, possessing a Green Card allows a US permanent resident to open a bank account, establish a business, attend educational programs, apply for a driver’s license, purchase a home, travel from and to the United States (in accordance with certain regulations), sponsor other close family members for permanent residency, and to apply for American citizenship after living in the USA with a Green Card five years and satisfying other criteria.
There are five categories of employment-based (EB) US permanent resident visas:
- First Preference (EB-1 Visa) – This permanent resident visa is for people with extraordinary ability in business, the arts and sciences, education, or athletics; multinational managers and other executives; or outstanding researchers and professors.
- Second Preference (EB-2 Visa) – This US immigration visa is for eligible professionals who have advanced university degrees (for example, a Master’s or Doctorate Degree, or a Bachelor’s Degree along with five years of related work experience); or people with exceptional ability in business or in the arts and sciences.
- Third Preference (EB-3 Visa) – This permanent resident visa is designed for workers in particular professions requiring a minimum of two years of training or work experience, eligible occupations requiring a Bachelor’s Degree as the minimum education, and unskilled workers in specific professions requiring training or work experience that is less than two years.
- Fourth Preference (EB-4 Visa) – This US immigration visa category was established to offer a Green Card to eligible ministers of religion, religious workers, international broadcasters or other special immigrants.
- Fifth Preference (EB-5 Visa) – This pathway to US permanent residency is for international investors who can make a significant investment in a new business enterprise in the USA for one-million dollars, or who make an investment of $500,000 in a targeted employment area of the United States, that will create at least 10 full-time jobs for American workers during a two-year time frame.
Move to America!
America is a land of immigrants which has the largest population of foreign-born residents in the world (around 45 million) and also attracts more expats each year than any other country on Earth. Now is a good time to move to America, which has the world’s largest economy, a low rate of unemployment, and millions of jobs available in many different occupations. Whether you move to America with a temporary US visa for 1-5 years, or you are approved for US immigration as a Lawful Permanent Resident, you will find many great opportunities available to you and your family while living in the United States.