There are two categories of U.S. visas: immigrant and nonimmigrant. The choice of visa is determined by the purpose of travel to the United States.

Immigrant Visa

Immigrant visas are issues to foreign nationals who intend to live in the United States permanently, although they may not seek eventual citizenship of the country. In most immigration visa cases, a relative or employer of the foreign national acts as a sponsor for them, filing an application on their behalf with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). If the foreign national is a applicant that possesses extraordinary ability, or investors, can petition on their own behalf. An immigrant visa is also called a Green Card. A green card holder is allowed to leave and re-enter the United States without being asked of any other documentation or visa. However, immigrant visa holders do not have certain rights such as voting until they apply for and are granted U.S. citizenship. Immigrant visas are limited, and if there are no visas at the time of your application, you may be placed on a waiting list until one becomes available. Once issued an immigrant visa, the intending immigrant becomes a lawful permanent resident once the immigrant visa and necessary attached paperwork is reviewed and endorsed.

Non-Immigrant Visa

Non-immigrant visas are for foreign nationals that are entering the United States on a temporary basis, such as for tourism, medical treatment, business, temporary work, study or other similar reasons. Usually a foreign national will apply for a tourist (B-2) or business nonimmigrant visa. If a foreign national is looking to enter the United States to study or work, they may need to show certain authorization and documentation before applying for a nonimmigrant visa. Being issued this type of visa does not guarantee entry to the United States. The application must then be reviewed and a U.S. consular officer must determine that the foreign national can enter the country for a specific purpose. A person seeking a non-immigrant visa is one that does not want permanent residence in the U.S. They may live in the country for several years without any application to resettle permanently. There are various business, tourist and work visas which allow foreign nationals to live and work in the United States for a limited period of time which can range from 6 months to several years. If you are a foreign national seeking an immigrant or non-immigrant visa, contact an Arizona immigration attorney at Maria Jones Law Firm to discuss your options.