US Visas, Permits and Immigration

by Jose Marc Castro on August 10, 2009

VISAUS200American immigration laws always have quotas on the number of people allowed to enter the United States from other countries.  Beyond the strict national quotas, the US openly denies visas to any migrant who is likely to become a public charge. The 1986 Act focuses on limiting illegal immigrants who want to enter the United States. The1990 Act is a previous act designed to help US-based businesses attract skilled foreign workers. The 1990 Act was issued to control applicants for permanent resident visa and to limit their population.

US Immigration Policy

The Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act (AEDPA) and the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act (IIRIRA) embody categories described as illegal activities.  Migrants, including those awarded with green cards, can be detained and deported if they are found to have violated American immigration rules.

Visa Ineligibility or Waiver

To protect the welfare, health and security of the United States, the immigration laws of the US prohibit visa issuance to certain applicants with communicable diseases like tuberculosis, mental disorders or persons who have committed criminal acts such as drug trafficking and procuring or prostitution. This is still within the ambit of Sec. 212(g) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, Act that identifies the particular circumstances that make individuals ineligible for a visa to the United States.

This chagrin over visas have been lamented in America Expat Forum last August 18, 2009:

It is at the discretion of the immigration officer you have to get passed who will decide if you are visiting too often. Doesn’t matter if you are spending a small fortune in the US’ bankrupt economy. If they don’t like you, and can use the excuse of visiting too often, then they will refuse you entry. Happened to me and it destroyed my life and cost me my marriage. So don’t expect much sympathy from these monsters in ‘black shirts’ (an adequate description of these people, I think).

I should also add that there is NO rule on how many VPW visits you can make. There is NOTHING in writing anywhere in Homeland Security law that indicates how many trips you can make. It is all down to discretion, or more likely, discrimination by immigration.

Former exchange tourists must live abroad for 2 years. Applicants who plan to practice medicine should pass the qualifying exam before getting immigrant visas.  The current policy requires payment of a processing fee for the visa, with amounts reaching even $1000 for the application for a permanent visa.

Types of Visas

Employed-Based Visa

The preference scheme allows American employers to petition the USCIS in behalf of certain successful employees, but this system often backlogs. In addition, employees often have to wait for some years for them to be handed a visa.

B-1 Business Visa

This is issued to foreigners who work for a foreign business entity and are permitted to visit the United States. This visa is more advantageous than the visa waivers for different reasons depending on certain circumstances such as change of status or visa extensions. Depending upon the consular officer’s discretion based on stringent guidelines, the visa will be issued.

B-2 Tourist Visa

This is issued to foreign nationals who want to visit the US for tourist or leisure purposes. Tourist visas are required for citizens of countries excluded from the Visa Waiver Program. Citizens included in the Visa Waiver Program are required to get a visa extension if they want to stay in the US for more than 90 days.

F-1 Student Visa

The United States allows foreign students to study in its universities, high schools, American language schools as well as other institutions of higher education. Many learning institutions are approved by the USCIS and accept foreign students as full time students. Foreigner students holding an F-1 Visa can change universities and schools without leaving the United States. The applicant for the US student visa should come to the US to pursue an academic program in any institution, school or university recognized by the United States government. Students can work on campus as they enroll in the school. Furthermore, foreign students need to apply for CPT or Curricular Practical Training to get work experience while being a full time student. One of the main reasons for the grant of the visa is to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries by means of educational and cultural exchanges

H-1B Visa

This is the visa given to professional level individuals who will fill a need in a US company. This is applied by the employer after completing a “Labor Condition Application”. The wages provided in the application must be the prevailing rate in the geographic region.

H-2B Work Visa

The H-2B work visa is created to allow foreigners to come to the U.S. temporarily, mostly for non-agricultural jobs. Applicants can qualify if they come to the United States to accept a seasonal or temporary non-agricultural job from an American employer.

L-1 Intra-Company Transferee

This visa is for international transferees who worked for a related organization abroad for at least a year in the past three years and would need to be in the United States to perform an executive or managerial (L-1A) visa or specialized knowledge capacity (L-1B).

TN Visa for Canadians/Mexicans to Work in the United States

This  TN visa is due to effect of the NAFTA allowing work visas for Canadian or Mexican citizens.

R-1Religous Visa

The government of the United States issues visas to legitimate religious organization members wanting to work and live legally in the United States. To qualify for this visa, the legitimate religious organization member must have been at least a member of the group for 2 years.

Do note that self-employment are disallowed to be granted visas to the United States. There are also temporary visas granted such as the K-1 visa for immediate relatives such as fiancés, spouses and unmarried dependent children and V Life Act Visas for spouses of Legal Permanent Residents or Green Card Holders.

Employment Based Green Card

There are two ways to get a US green card. The first one is acquired through a family member or a relative while the other is acquired based on an employment green card pass.

E-1 or Employment First Preference

This visa is designed for certain multinational managers, executives as well as those who have an extraordinary ability in education, arts, science, athletics or business.

E-2 or Employment Second Preference

This class of employment green card is for professional foreigners with advanced degrees and with a job offer from a United States company. This type of green card is also for foreign nationals with outstanding skills or an advanced degree that will significantly benefit the United States’ national interest.

E-3 or Employment Third Preference

This class of employment green card is for professional workers with a foreign equivalent degree or United States bachelors as well as job offer from a United States company for a skilled worker position.

E-4 or Employment Fourth Preference

This is a highly specialized visa for religious, mass media, governmental, special skills such as interpreters in specially designated areas.

There are numerical limitations as well as health considerations in the issuance of these visas

Immigration Permits

H-2B Visa Work Permit

H-2B visa is a work permit obtained for temporary employment by the applicant entering the United States. To qualify for this H-2B visa work permit, the applicant should satisfy the US government’s prerequisite stating there are no skilled Americans able or willing to hold the position offered by the US-based employer.

Green Card owners may stay in the United States for longer periods whenever an application to preserve residence or re-entry permit for Naturalization is approved by US immigration. The Green Card owner must complete the residency requirements before they may apply for United States citizenship.

USA Green Card Lottery

The government of America issues 50,000 Green Cards every year through a Diversity Immigrant Visa Program called the Green Card Lottery. The applicants are randomly chosen via computer raffle. If the applicant is selected, the spouse as well as all the unmarried children under the age of 21 will have the chance to apply for a permanent resident status in the United States.

Social Security Card

The Social Security system was set up to provide financial assistance for elderly and disabled citizens. Employees and employers are required to pay their social security taxes to contribute to this fund. Each permanent resident and United States citizen has a unique social security number to maintain records of the funds and to assign benefits to those allowed to receive them.  Several temporary students, workers and visitors on non-immigrant visas are also allowed and required to get their Social Security numbers.

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