Visas

Visas

 

We help you obtain your visa overseas or maintain your visa status in the United States, whether you are here for a temporary visit or permanent residence.

Types of Visas

There are almost as many kinds of visas as there are reasons to visit the United States.  They are divided into two main categories:  immigrant and non-immigrant visas.

IMMIGRANT VISAS allow foreign-born persons to enter the United States and remain here indefinitely.  Someone with an immigrant visa who enters the United States is considered a lawful permanent resident and will receive a “Green Card”.

NON-IMMIGRANT VISAS are intended for foreign-born persons who plan to visit the United States temporarily, and then return to their home country.  Examples include the A-1 visa (for ambassadors), the H-1B (for workers in specialty occupations), and the V-1 (for certain spouses of lawful permanent residents).  There are approximately 80 in all!

Visas and Visa Status:  What’s the Difference?

It’s important to know the difference between a visa and visa status.  The actual VISA is a shiny, sticker-like document that is affixed to the non-US citizen’s passport at the US embassy or consulate abroad.  This document allows the person to apply for admission to – but not necessarily enter – the United States.  (Imagine someone knocking on the door.)

Upon arriving at the US border or airport, the traveler is inspected by Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers, who are part of the Department of Homeland Security.  These officers inspect the person’s VISA and, if they believe he or she is entitled to enter the country, they normally place a stamp in the person’s passport.  (Imagine opening the door and letting the person inside.)

In addition, most non-immigrants receive a small document called an I-94 card.  The  I-94 card and passport stamp are both evidence of the person’s VISA STATUS, which controls how long a non-US citizen may stay in the United States, what activities he or she may engage in and whether employment is authorized.  Permanent residence is the VISA STATUS that Green Card holders have.

DID YOU KNOW?  If a person’s VISA is valid for ten years, that does not necessarily mean that he or she may remain in the United States for ten years.  How long a non-immigrant may remain in this country is controlled by his or her VISA STATUS, not the VISA.  If you are unsure what your VISA STATUS is or how long you are authorized to remain in the United States, you should consult a knowledgeable immigration attorney.

Non-immigrants should always monitor their VISA STATUS.  Staying longer than the time permitted on the I-94 card, working without permission or otherwise violating the conditions of one's VISA STATUS can lead to serious consequences.  You may lose your status, invalidate your VISA, become ineligible to adjust your status to permanent residence and subject yourself to deportation.  Many non-immigrants violate their VISA STATUS and don’t realize it until it’s too late.

DID YOU KNOW?  A conviction and imprisonment for a crime may be considered a violation of one’s non-immigrant VISA STATUS and lead to deportation proceedings.  If you are not a US citizen and are charged with a crime in this country, you should consult with a knowledgeable immigration attorney before entering a plea or going to trial on any criminal charges.

 

For more information about visa processing, Green Cards, and preventing deportation, visit these pages: