TEMPORARY VISAS . There are 27 basic types of visas that the U.S. government issues for foreigners to come to the U.S. on a temporary basis, depending on the purpose of their visit (listed below).
PAROLE . If an individual's circumstances doesn't fit into one of the 27 types of visas and s/he has urgent need to enter the U.S., they can apply for 'parole' to enter the country. This is used in circumstances (1) when medical treatment is needed, (2) if a child is involved and a parent needs to enter the U.S., (3) when there is danger in the foreigner's home country that is immediate and involves the individual direction, and (4) other similar circumstances.
TEMPORARY PROTECTED STATUS . When natural or political disasters hit certain areas of the world, the U.S. allows nationals from those countries to stay in the U.S. without fear of removal / deportation, no matter what their status is at the time disaster hits. Currently, nationals from these countries can be protected under TPS: El Salvador, Guinea, Haiti, Honduras, Liberia, Nicaragua, Sierra Leone, Sudan, South Sudan, and Syria. NOTE: There are specific registration periods during which nationals from these countries can apply for TPS status. If it is outside a registration period, consult with an attorney.
VISA WAIVER PROGRAM . Nationals from 38 different countries can come to the U.S. without a visa, but just 'on their passport' to stay for 30 to 90 days on visitor status, based on treaties between their home countries and the U.S.
INFORMATION & DOCUMENTS: All visa applications are a matter of (1) information (showing the Embassy / USCIS that you qualify for the visa based on your background and purpose of visit), and (2) documents (to 'back up' the information).
To be sure that the information and documents are accurately prepared, we suggest the assistance of an attorney, even on just a consultation basis, if needed. The regulations and requirements change constantly. Depending on the type of visa involved, an attorney's assistance could run from $500 to $5,000. Unless it is an investor visa that deals with substantial sums of money on behalf of the client, an attorney who quotes over $5,000 for the entire process is overcharging.
Once the information / documents are accurately prepared, the digital application goes into the Embassy and an interview date is set online. Depending on the Embassy's specific instructions, documents are then sent ahead of the interview or are taken at the time of the interview. Some visas require pre-approval from USCIS in the U.S. in order to apply at the Embassy - this is true most notably for H Visas - For Workers, K Visas - For Fiances, and L Visas - For Multinational Executives. At the time of the interview, the visa can be granted or denied. The most common reasons for denial are:
POTENTIAL PROBLEM - 221(g) / FAILURE TO SHOW ELIGIBILITY . If the documents and information provided do not establish eligibility for the visa, the visa will be denied for failure to show eligibility. The Embassy will typically ask for the applicant to wait for a period of time before they apply again, in order to give time for circumstances to change so that, perhaps, the applicant will be eligible at a later date. The applicant need not wait if s/he is qualified and simply failed to adequately show his/her qualifications. S/he can file a Motion To Reconsider to get new documents reviewed quickly. This should not be done without consultation with an attorney because the Embassy can easily get annoyed with individuals and interpret additional filings as pestering or argumentative rather than helping the process.
POTENTIAL PROBLEM - 214(b) / NON-IMMIGRANT INTENT . With the exception of an H1B Visa - For Professionals, a K Visa - For Fiances, and an L Visa - For Multinational Executives, all visa applicants must be able to show that they intend to return to their home countries and will not stay in the U.S. once they arrive. Even if the applicant has family in the U.S., it is illegal to stay in the U.S. longer than the time authorized on the date stamps given on entry into the U.S. To be sure that an applicant intends to return to their home country at the end of their authorized stay, the Embassy looks for information and documents related to the applicant's ties to their home country, including job contracts, lease or mortgage contracts, family ties at home, etc. Regardless of other qualifications, if an applicant is unable to show that they intend to return home at the end of their authorized stay, their visa application will be denied.
ISSUES OF INADMISSIBILITY: CONVICTIONS . DRUGS . PREVIOUS IMMIGRATION ISSUES . ETC. . If there are criminal issues in the past of an applicant or an immigration history showing overstays, etc., then the Embassy can deny a visa on that basis. There are waivers for certain issues of inadmissibility and no waivers for others. Typically, a felony conviction will disqualify an individual for a visa. However, non-violent crimes are treated differently than violent crimes. Consultation with an attorney in these circumstances is highly recommended before application is submitted to the Embassy. Any drug use in the past or excessive alcohol use in the past can lead to a visa being denied, so be sure to disclose all related issues to an attorney before applying with the Embassy. Also, any previous claim to be a U.S. citizen is treated more seriously than violent crimes, even, and waivers are not available. There are arguments related to any incident where an individual may have claimed to be a U.S. citizen, but they are highly individualized and attorney consultation is imperative. There are other issues of inadmissibility as well, but they are common sense: if you are entering the U.S. to marry more than one wife or husband, then the Embassy will not grant the visa; if you are entering the U.S. to work as a prostitute, also, the Embassy will not grant the visa. This is not an exhaustive list.
ELIGIBILITY FOR SPECIFIC VISAS
All individuals qualify for at least one type of visa. We are happy to evaluate your circumstances and get you a list of visas that you qualify for. We do not list the specific qualifications for each type of visa as those qualifications change on a regular (and irregular) basis. Rather, we invite you to visit here and get us your basic information and we'll send you current information for the visas that you qualify for.
Individuals from the following countries can enter the U.S. 'on their passports' (without a visa):
Even if you are from one of those countries, you cannot enter the U.S. for any purpose other than 'visitor' unless you have gone through the Embassy application process and have a visa or parole. Also, those from countries other than the ones listed must have a visa or parole to enter the U.S. for any purpose.
The types of visas that the U.S.
Diplomats and Foreign Government Officials (“A”)
Visitor Visas to the U.S. (“B-1/B-2″)
Transit Visas (“C”) (State Department)
Treaty Traders (“E-1″)
Treaty Investors (“E-2″)
Australian Professionals (“E-3″)
Employees of Designated International Agencies and NATO (“G” and “NATO”)
Professional Workers (“H-1B”)
Agricultural Workers (“H-2A”)
Skilled and Unskilled Workers (“H-2B”)
Foreign Journalists (“I”)
Exchange Visitors (“J-1″)
Fiances of U.S. Citizens (“K-1″)
Spouses of US Citizens (“K-3″)
Intracompany Transferees (“L-1″)
Vocational Students (“M-1″)
Persons of Extraordinary Ability (“O”)
Athletes and Entertainers (“P”)
International Cultural Exchange Visitors (“Q”)
Religious Workers (“R”)
Witnesses and Informants (“S”)
Victims of Trafficking (“T”)
Canadian and Mexican Professionals Under NAFTA (“TN”)
Visas for Crime Victims (“U”)
TO CHECK YOUR ELIGIBILITY FOR ANY SPECIFIC VISA TYPE, PLEASE ANSWER SOME BASIC QUESTIONS ABOUT YOUR BACKGROUND.