How do I become a U.S. citizen?

An individual born in the United States is automatically a U.S. citizen. A foreign national who wishes to be a U.S. citizen must go through the process of naturalization. In order to naturalize, an individual meet the following criteria. He or she must be admitted into the U.S. as a lawful permanent resident (LPR), live in the U.S. for at least five continuous years, reside in the state in which the petition is being filed for at least three months immediately prior to filing for U.S. citizenship, have a physical presence in the U.S. for a total of at least half of the period of required continuous residence, have continuous residence in the U.S. from the date of filing the naturalization application to the date of being sworn in as a U.S. citizen, have the basic ability to read, write, and speak English, have a basic understanding of U.S. history and government, have good moral character consistent with the values of the U.S. constitution, and be at least 18 years of age.

Being an LPR entails getting a green card. A green card is issued to all permanent residents as proof that they are legally authorized to reside in the United States. A green card can be used to show employment eligibility in the U.S as well as to obtain a Social Security Card.

What type of visa should I get if I want to become a permanent U.S. citizen?

A person seeking to become a permanent U.S. citizen should obtain an immigrant visa. Most immigrants receive visas in the family-based or employment-based visa categories. Coming to this country based on family often requires a U.S. citizen to file an immigrant visa petition for a spouse, child, parent, or sibling. Another route is that a U.S. lawful permanent resident (i.e., green card holder) can file an immigrant petition for a spouse or an unmarried son or daughter. Employment-based immigration involves a U.S. citizen sponsoring certain workers for permanent jobs. U.S. law also permits prospective immigrants to sponsor themselves in limited fields. Additionally, U.S. law provides many specific immigrant categories, including an investor visa.

How long will my green card remain valid?
Currently, green cards are valid for 10 years, or two years in the case of a conditional resident. The green card must be renewed before it expires.

What is the difference between lawful status and a period of authorized stay?

Lawful status means that a foreign national has an unexpired Form I-94 that was issued by immigration authorities, and they are complying with the conditions on their specific visa. If they do not comply with those conditions, they will not have lawful status. An H-1B visa holder who does not work for the employer that sponsored their petition, for example, will be considered to have fallen out of status. By contrast, a period of authorized stay defines a time during which a foreign national does not have lawful status but has permission to stay in the U.S. for a certain reason. This typically happens when a foreign national has applied to extend or change their status while their current status remains valid, but USCIS does not make a decision on their application before their status expires. A foreign national is unlawfully present in the U.S. only if they have neither lawful status nor a period of authorized stay.

What do I do if I’ve received a deportation order?

Receiving a deportation order does not necessarily mean there is no hope to stay in this country. An individual can challenge, appeal, or otherwise seek to stay a deportation order. United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) handles deportations and removal proceedings. USCIS sends an individual a Notice to Appear, which will contain the details of why the proceeding has been initiated. The notice will also provide the date of the first hearing. The initial hearing is procedural, and the individual will receive information about his or her rights. At the end of the hearing, an evidentiary hearing is set.

The evidentiary hearing is when a federal immigration judge will hear the evidence against the individual. The government must show through clear and convincing evidence that the individual is removable from the United States. The individual will be able to present evidence, such as documents and witness testimony, in his or her defense. If your claim is denied, you can file an appeal with the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA).

Can I get a green card by investing in a U.S. company?
Yes, entrepreneurs who make an investment in a commercial enterprise in the United States can apply for a green card through an EB-5 Investor visa. The investment must create or preserve at least 10 permanent full-time jobs for qualified U.S. workers. Every year, USCIS can authorize up to 10,000 visas for eligible entrepreneurs. A commercial enterprise refers to a for-profit entity formed for the ongoing operation of a lawful business. To be eligible for an EB-5 visa, the entrepreneur must invest a minimum of $500,000 in a targeted employment area (rural or high unemployment area) or $1,000,000 anywhere in the United States.

What are the different categories of student visas?

There are three main types of visas that a student can pursue: F Student Visas, M Student Visas, and J Visas for Exchange Visitors.

What are the options for bringing my family members to the U.S?

Employees who are residing and working in the United States on certain types of employment visas may be able to bring their families to the United States on temporary visas that last for the same duration as the principal employment visa. U.S. citizens and LPRs can seek to bring their family members to the U.S. permanently.

Can my employer sponsor me for a visa?

An employer can sponsor a foreign citizen to work and live in the United States through a work visa. There are a number of work visas that an employer can sponsor, including the H-1B, L, and O visas. This means that in order to obtain these types of visas, you must first apply for a job and be offered a position by a U.S. employer.

How do I qualify for a visa to take a vacation in the U.S?

Citizens of foreign countries who wish to enter the United States temporarily for a vacation must obtain a non-immigrant B-2 visa. To qualify for a B-2 visa, an individual must establish that the purpose for the trip is tourism, pleasure, or visiting, that the person has a permanent residence in a country other than the United States to which he or she intends to return, that the person has connections to his or her home country in the form of a job, property, or family, that the person is not arriving in the U.S. to seek employment or partake in business activities for the advantage of a U.S. employer, and that the person has enough financial resources to cover the expenses of the trip. The duration of time that a person will be allowed to remain in the U.S. on a B-2 visa will be decided by the immigration officer at the port of entry. Generally, the maximum amount is six months.