Immigration Basics

If you are hoping to come to the United States either temporarily or permanently, it is important to understand the basic steps involved in the immigration process. Knowing how the immigration system works can help streamline the application process and increase your chances of approval. The first step is determining which immigration benefits apply to your situation, which is either a green card for permanent residency or a nonimmigrant visa for a temporary stay.

Permanent Residence

A green card is verification of your right to make a permanent home in the United States. With a green card, you can live and work in this country without many restrictions. Spouses of United States citizens and other family members, employers, and workers who fit into one of the categories based on preferences may be eligible for a green card and permanent residence in this country.

Nonimmigrant Visa

The nonimmigrant visa is for individuals intending to visit, work, or study in the United States for a limited period. In this case, you would apply for the specific type of visa based on your reason for visiting this country. Each visa has its own letter/number combination; for example, B-2 for tourism or F-1 for academic studies. The expiration date on your visa and the specific restrictions on your visit vary depending on the type of visa you have. In most cases, your stay can be extended multiple times if your studies or work are not complete. Nonimmigrant visas are either single or multiple entry.

The Application Process

After you figure out which immigration path is right for you, it is time to apply. To apply for a green card, you need to complete Form I-485: Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status and submit all necessary documentation and fees. From there, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services will schedule an interview. If you are approved, your green card will be valid for 10 years.

To apply for a temporary visa, you will go to the nearest consulate that is authorized to issue the type of visa you are seeking. Every type of visa comes with its own application process, but all generally require a completed application, documentation supporting your reason for visiting the United States, and an interview at a consulate or embassy. The review process can take weeks or months while a background check is completed.

Philadelphia Immigration Lawyers at Surin & Griffin, P.C. Provide Skilled Representation for All Types of Immigration Matters

While we have provided a simple overview of the process to enter, live, and work in the United States, it should be said that every immigration case is unique. To learn more about your eligibility, it is best to schedule an initial consultation with a Philadelphia immigration lawyer at Surin & Griffin, P.C. To get started, call us at 215-925-4435 or contact us online at your convenience. Located in Philadelphia, we serve clients throughout Pennsylvania and nationwide.