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Coming to America: Strategies for Immigrating Into the United States

How Can You Live, Work and/or Study in the U.S.? Let Us Count the Ways....

Many Different Visa Options
People often say "I want to come live in the United States. Please tell me what to do."

Among the multiple answers, none are simple. Although, if you find that one visa is a perfect match for you, it might indeed be a relatively simple process.

Visas: What is the Reason for Your Move?
People cannot simply move to another country because they want to. You have to be coming to join immediate relatives (parents, children, spouses or siblings), to be a student, to do a job, to start a company, to invest money; you have to have a reason that is much more concrete than simply "because I want to."

Depending on your basis for immigrating, you will either be applying to come temporarily, on a temporary visa, or permanently, with the intention of applying for a green card, and perhaps eventually, citizenship.

Review all the visa, humanitarian and parole types below. If you do not qualify for any of these, your only choices are illegal immigration (a very poor choice), or the green card lottery.

Will You Qualify?
Once you have decided upon your reason, or your "basis" for immigration (living in the United States permanently) or a temporary visa (living in the United States temporarily), you will need to:

Find out if Your Reason (basis) Qualifies
Does the government (in general terms) think your reason for coming to America is a good one, and do you meet the criteria (rules) for applying?

If you do, you will then need to apply, and to prove that you qualify (that you can follow the rules).

Prove it
You can not just say "I have enough money to support myself," or "I have a job offer," or "I plan to study," or "I am going to invest money."

In nearly all cases, you will need to have bonafied proof of these circumstances, and will need to follow-through with your plans. Tracking of foreigners in the United States has improved since 9/11, and continues to improve.

Side note: This is part of the reason that the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) has been replaced by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), which belongs to the Department of Homeland Security: organization, tracking and security when it comes to foreign nationals in the United States.

Note #1: Staying Six or Fewer Months?
If you only plan to visit the United States for up to six months, this page probably does not apply to you. Instead, see the page on tourist and business visas instead.

However, if you are already on a tourist visa and have decided you want to stay in the United States, you are in the right place.

Note #2: If you already have a green card and want to apply for citizenship, you should visit our citizenship pageinstead. Since you must have a green card for at least 3-5 years before you can apply for citizenship, you should stay on this page unless you already have your green card.

Legitimate Reasons to Immigrate
The following are legitimate reasons for coming to live in the United States, and each has a corresponding visa or designated status:

If you are employed, as a legitimate employee, in a position which requires you to work in the U.S.A, either in a U.S. company or a foreign company with offices in the United States, you may be eligible for one of the following:



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