Houston Non-Immigrant Visa Lawyer
Persons who are not citizens of the United States but wish to visit here temporarily for tourism, schooling, temporary employment, or medical treatment must have permission from the government by requesting a ‘visa’ or is a document indicating that a person is authorized to enter or leave the territory for which it was issued (subject to permission of an immigration official at the time of actual entry).
Although increased security has been a goal of the United States for well over a decade we still continue to welcome millions of international visitors each year who enrich all aspects of American culture, education and commerce. Twenty-seven (27) countries, such as Canada, are part of the Visa Waiver Program which means that visitors can come to the U.S. without a visa if they meet certain requirements; and enables foreign nationals, to visit the United States for up to 90-day visa-free. Visa waiver travelers must present a ‘machine-readable’ passport at their U.S. port of entry for admittance; otherwise a U.S. visa is required.
Other international travelers coming as international visitors to the United States temporarily will need a nonimmigrant visa. While this visa does permit the holder to travel to a U.S. port-of-entry such as an airport; and further requests permission from the Department of Homeland Security Immigration Inspector to enter the United States – a visa does not guarantee entry into the country. You may have to demonstrate you will be returning to your native country; and realize you are only granted entry into America for a limited period of time.
The type of visa the foreign visitor will need is dictated by the purpose of travel as defined by immigration law. What follows are the typical non-immigrant visas available. More information is available at the USCIS website provided at the end of this article.
- B-1 Temporary visitor for Business
- B-2 Temporary visitor for Pleasure (tourist visa)
- E-1 Treaty Trader, spouse and children
- E-2 Treaty Investor, spouse and children
- F-1 Student Visa
- H-1B Work Visas for Specialty Occupations (including fashion models)
- J-1 Visas for exchange visitors
- K-1 Fiancée and Fiancée Immigration Visa
- O-1 Extraordinary ability in Sciences, Arts, Education, Business, or Athletics
- P-1 Individual or team athletes
- R-1 Religious workers
- TN Trade visas for Citizens of Canada and Mexico
If you or someone you know is planning to immigrate to the United States to live here permanently there are a number of resources you should consult to make the process as smooth as possible. Each case is different and may therefore require a unique combination of visas and related materials as part of the application process.
Generally speaking, however, a prerequisite for an immigrant visa is that the foreign citizen must be sponsored by a U.S. citizen – usually a relative, a PLR, prospective employer or beneficiary of an approved petition. Take note of the following information.
PETITIONS REQUIRED TO BE FILED IN THE U.S.
American citizens and lawful permanent resident sponsors residing in the United States must file an I-130 petition at the USCIS Service Center having jurisdiction over their place of U.S. residence.
Filing Petitions Abroad – The availability of petitions and Form I-130, which are able to be filed abroad are actually quite limited – and the information can be confusing. For example, petitions for immediate relative immigrant classifications may be filed abroad by American citizen petitioners who have been authorized to be continuously resident in their consular districts for at least the preceding 6 months. This may include members of the U.S. armed forces, emergency cases involving life and death or health and safety, and others determined to be in the national interest. Petitions are filed with USCIS abroad or at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate if no USCIS agency is available.
- Immediate Relatives Immigration Visa
- Special Immigrants
- Family-sponsored Immigration Visa
- Employer-sponsored Immigration Visa
- Marriage to a Foreign National
- Diversity Immigrant Visa Program, commonly know as the Green Card Lottery
- Employment Immigrant Visas
The most valuable advice we can give anyone seeking temporary or permanent residency in the United States is to plan well in advance and seek legal counsel to walk you through each step of the process. It’s too important to leave to chance.