Immigration to the US is a hot topic of conversation these days.
The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) continues to be debated. The government is more carefully checking refugee status applicants. There is disagreement about which countries should be allowed to send visitors.
We’re even in a time when some people can’t enter the US, even for a visit, because of their home country.
Many people are now left wondering how to enter the US legally.
This article will walk you through the most common ways to enter and stay in the US.
Visas are a common way for people to enter the U.S. People often think these are only for short trips, but there are actually two types of visas.
Non-immigrant visas let people apply for trips, vacations, or anything that is time-limited.
Immigrant visas are for people wondering how to immigrate to the USA.
A visa is really an application to enter the US. They can be approved or denied by Customs and Border Patrol Officers when you’re entering the country.
There are many different forms of non-immigrant visas. For example, an exchange student has to get a J visa, while an athlete has to get a B-1 visa.
The following chart shows the most common immigrant visas if you’re wondering how to legally immigrate to the US.
- Spouse of US Citizen- IR1, CR1
- Fiance to US Citizen- K-1
- Adopted Child of US Citizen- IR3, IH3, IR4, IH4
- Diversity Immigrant- DV
- Family Member of US Citizen- IR2, CR2, IR5, F1, F3, F4
- Family Member of Lawful Permanent Residents- F2A, F2B
There are also several visa categories for employer-sponsored employment visas.
To get a visa, you also have to pass an interview and pay a fee. When it comes to how to enter the US legally, a visa is a great way to go.
It’s important to note that Customs and Border Control Officers can deny anyone entry to the US, even if they have a valid visa. Since it is up to their discretion, you may want to check in with the Customs and Border Control Office before your arrival.
If you are pregnant and trying to immigrate to the US, you should definitely contact this agency before your planned entry. Some officers will take your pregnancy into account before they allow you entrance. This is to prevent people trying to enter the country on a temporary visa, have a child, and return to their own country to give their child American citizenship.
On another note, if you’re looking for ways to enter the US or other countries with visas, you may need to look into getting another passport. Companies like Legacy Citizenship can help you get them.
While anyone can apply for a visa, you have to fit specific criteria to apply for refugee status.
According to US Citizenship and Immigration Services, you have to fall into one of these categories:
- Must be fleeing persecution in your home country
- Have a well-founded fear of persecution based on your race, religion, nationality, membership in a social group, or a specific political opinion
For example, because of the war in Syria, many Syrians have been applying for refugee status.
Also, during the Iraq War, people who worked with the American army as interpreters were often threatened by other Iraqis. They applied for refugee status because of fear for their lives.
To apply for refugee status, you have to apply to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. These workers screen people and decide which country would be the best fit for them. Only about 1% of applicants are matched to the US.
If you are wondering how to enter the US legally with refugee status, the next step is to get a referral from the US Refugee Admissions Program. If you’re accepted, you get help with your application and a US Citizenship and Immigration Services interview.
If you’re cleared by them, you have to take a doctor’s exam and cultural orientation class. From there you’ll get help with travel plans and even a loan if you need it.
If you come from a country on a terrorist watch list, you will have to get extra screenings. US organizations like the FBI and National Counterterrorism Center may also check immigrants applying for refugee status.
All of this can take between a year and a half to two years.
The last requirement of how to legally immigrate to the US with refugee status is to apply for your green card within two years.
A green card is the golden ticket for those wondering how to enter the US legally. A green card lets people who are not citizens stay and work in the US.
There are three ways you can get a green card:
- Through a family member
- Through an employer
- Through refugee or asylee status
Immediate family members of US citizens are at the front of the line to get green cards. You can apply for them if you fall into the other two categories too.
You might have more questions about applying for a green card through your employer. Talk to an immigration lawyer rather than an employment lawyer.
Anyone applying for a green card has to have a clean record though. Anyone who has been in trouble with the law since entering the US can’t apply.
Once you’ve lived in the US for five years on a visa or with a green card, you can apply for citizenship.
You have to have your biometrics read and be interviewed. This interview is an English and civics test. You must pass both tests to get citizenship. If you fail either test, you can retest again in 60-90 days.
Once you’ve passed your tests, you get to take the Oath of Allegiance.
Congratulations! You’re an American citizen!
Now That You Know How to Enter the US Legally…
You may still have a few questions. Try looking for an immigration lawyer. They’re available to give advice and answer your questions on how to enter the US legally.
With over 6 million visa applications submitted every year, it’s no secret that many people are trying to immigrate to the United States. However, only around 1 million of those are actually accepted every year.
If you or someone you know is trying to immigrate to the United States, then you need to get all the immigration advice you can.
As you’ll soon see, there are a number of reasons to get advice from an immigration lawyer, but it all boils down to one main point: you need to do whatever it takes to improve your chances of getting approved.
Here are 10 reasons to get immigration advice from an attorney:
1. They Know the Law
There’s no better place to get immigration advice than someone that specializes in that area of law. As you likely already know, immigration laws are complicated and can be difficult to understand.
Furthermore, each situation is different, so you may have a question that can’t be easily answered by looking through information on the government’s websites. Sometimes, you may not even be sure which forms you need to fill out.
An immigration attorney, on the other hand, can quickly and easily answer your questions about your situation from their vast knowledge of the law. It’s by far the quickest, easiest, and surest way to get immigration advice.
2. They Know the Requirements
In addition to there being a number of immigration laws, there are also many requirements you need to fulfill to successfully get a U.S. visa. While some of these requirements can be found online, many of these are vague and don’t offer enough information to know if you meet the requirements.
For example, you must prove that you can support yourself (and your family, if applicable) while living in the United States. However, because each situation is different, there aren’t numbers listed for how much you need to be making.
There are other requirements that you need to fulfill that may be even more difficult to understand, especially if English isn’t your first language.
This is where a lawyer can give you immigration advice. They should be able to give you a good idea of how much money you need to prove you have or will be making to the government so you can apply.
3. They Know How to Put Everything Together
Although having everything organized isn’t the most important part of the visa application process, doing things right even in this small way can help you get your immigration visa.
Sometimes, this is as simple as having your original documents first and copies of each following them. But whatever it is, an immigration lawyer can get everything put together as the U.S. agent is expecting.
They will also make sure that you have all the forms you need. There is a different form for every situation and many people will need to bring several to apply.
Since not having the forms filled out correctly and missing necessary forms entirely are both quick ways to be denied, you need to make sure you have someone knowledgeable checking everything for you.
4. They Know How the Information Needs to be Presented
Do you know which of your documents need to be translated or where to get your documents translated? What about materials that need to be certified by lawyers?
Every piece of evidence you present needs to be a certain way. You will likely need to have international travel documents ready as well which will need to be presented correctly.
In most cases, you will need to have your documents translated and specially certified. But you can’t have just anyone translate your documents for you, so getting direction from an immigration lawyer will help get exactly what you need the first time.
5. They Know How to Present Your Case
From the moment you walk into the immigration office to present your case, you will be judged.
Unfortunately, that’s just part of the job of immigration agents. They need to make sure that every person that wants a visa won’t end up being a burden on the government or a nuisance.
This is therefore another area in which you should get immigration advice from a lawyer. A lawyer can teach you what to wear when you go to your appointment, what to say, and what questions you can expect to have to answer.
It’s normal to be nervous when you go to your visa approval appointment, but being as prepared as possible by getting legal advice can calm your fears and allow you to be more confident and relaxed.
When you go into your appointment with confidence, this can improve your chances of success because you’ll be able to answer the questions easily and won’t be flustered when asked to present certain pieces of evidence.
6. You May Only Have One Shot
The unfortunate truth is that if you don’t succeed in getting your visa approved the first time you go, you may not get another chance to apply. This is sadly true for some of the people that are not successful the first time around.
In some situations, you may be able to reapply at a later date, but other times, you will be permanently denied from entering the United States. To limit your risk of being rejected, seek immigration advice from a lawyer first.
An immigration lawyer will make sure you have done everything you can to increase your chances of being granted a visa the first time you apply. This way, you don’t have to worry about being banned from reapplying.
7. They Can Speed Up the Process
There are several ways that getting help from an immigration lawyer can help speed up the immigration process.
First of all, because these lawyers know the law and requirements, they can help you gather precisely what you need quickly. They’ll also make sure you get the right thing the first time so you don’t need to get anything a second time.
Secondly, they know the right people to talk to which can help you get into an immigration office sooner to see someone compared to if you were doing everything yourself.
8. They Can Save You Money
In part because of the sped-up process, asking for immigration advice can help save you money. After all, you won’t have to take as many days off of work to run around and collect all of the paperwork you need.
The other way an immigration lawyer can help you save money is by eliminating the need to reapply for a visa. The application itself, as well as some of the needed paperwork, are expensive.
If you find yourself needing to reapply, then you have to pay the application fee again and may lose more time from work gathering the correct paperwork. For that reason, an immigration lawyer can help you save money.
9. They Provide Ongoing Support
For many people, immigration is not a one-time event. Following your initial acceptance, there will be a probation period while living in the United States before you can start to pursue gaining citizenship.
Sometimes, you may be able to get to the United States with one type of visa and then later decide to apply for permanent residency. This will require a change of visa process.
Knowing that you can get help at any point in your immigrant process should give you peace of mind. By seeking immigration advice from a lawyer, you can have someone to rely on every time you hit a roadblock.
No matter what problem you find yourself running into, an immigration lawyer will be able to answer your questions and give you the advice needed to continue.
10. They Want You to Succeed
If only to look good on their own track record, an immigration lawyer wants you to succeed in getting to the United States. Because of their drive to see you succeed, they’re a great source of immigration advice.
A good immigration lawyer will do whatever they can to help you succeed. They will direct you to get all the paperwork done correctly and help you fill out forms. They may even coach you on how to respond to the questions that you’ll be asked at your appointment.
Sometimes all you need is someone that wants you to succeed to do so. After all, they’ll not only provide you with the practical help needed to get your visa, but they’ll also encourage you to keep going even when it gets tough.
Where to Get Immigration Advice
The road to immigration is a long one that is filled with many obstacles to overcome. However, it’s far from impossible to achieve your goal of getting to the United States.
The best chance you have is by getting immigration advice from a lawyer that specializes in immigration. They will be able to help you every step of the way until you have reached success.
Fortunately, there are a number of US attorneys that can help you with your next step in your journey to immigration. Contact one today and let them know that you need some help and they’ll be eager to help.