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Visas - Immigration
A nonimmigrant is a foreign national seeking to enter the United States (U.S.) temporarily for a specific purpose. Nonimmigrants enter the U.S. for a temporary period of time, and once in the U.S. are restricted to the activity or reason for which their visa was issued. They may have more than one type of nonimmigrant visa but are admitted in only one status.
Nonimmigrant Visas - General Requirements
General requirements for foreign nationals seeking temporary admission include, but are not limited to, the following:
- The purpose of the visit must be temporary
- The foreign national must agree to depart at the end of his/her authorized stay or extension
- The foreign national must be in possession of a valid passport
- A foreign residence must be maintained by the foreign national, in most instances
- The foreign national may be required to show proof of financial support
- The foreign national must be admissible or have obtained a waiver for any ground of inadmissibility
- The foreign national must abide by the terms and conditions of admission
An immigrant is a foreign national who has been granted the privilege of living and working permanently in the United States. You must go through a multi-step process to become an immigrant. In most cases, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) must first approve an immigrant petition for you, usually filed by an immediate family member or employer. Some Business applicants may also be eligible for immigrant status.
Then, an immigrant visa number must be available to you, even if you are already in the United States. After that, if you are already in the United States, you may apply to Adjust to Permanent Resident Status (If you are outside the United States, you will be notified to go to the local U.S. consulate to complete the processing for an immigrant visa.)
Family Based Immigrant Visas
If you want to become a lawful permanent resident based on the fact that you have a relative who is a citizen of the United States, or a relative who is a lawful permanent resident, you must go through a multi-step process.
The USCIS must approve an immigrant visa petition, I-130 for Alien Relative, for you. This petition is filed by your relative (sponsor) and must be accompanied by proof of your relationship to the requesting relative.
Then, the Department of State must determine if an immigrant visa number is immediately available to you, the foreign national, even if you are already in the United States, When an immigrant visa number is available, it means you can apply to have one of the immigrant visa numbers assigned to you.
If you are already in the United States, you may apply to change your status to that of a lawful permanent resident after a visa number becomes available to you. This is one way you can apply to secure an immigrant visa number. If you are outside the United States when an immigrant visa number becomes available, you must then go to the U.S. Consulate servicing the area in which you reside to complete your processing. This is the other way to secure an immigrant visa number.
In order for a relative to sponsor you to immigrate to the United States, they must meet the following criteria:
- They must be a citizen or lawful permanent resident of the U.S. and be able to provide documentation providing that status.
- They must prove that they can support you at 125% above the mandated poverty line, by filling out an Affidavit of Support
The relatives which may be sponsored as an immigrant vary depending on whether the sponsor is a U.S. Citizen or a lawful permanent resident.
If the sponsor is a U.S. Citizen, they may petition for the following foreign national relatives to immigrate to the U.S:
- Husband or wife
- Unmarried child under 21 years of age
- Unmarried son or daughter over 21
- Married son or daughter of any age
- Brother or sister, if the sponsor is at least 21 years old, or
Parent, if the sponsor is at least 21 years old.
If the sponsor is a lawful permanent resident, they may petition for the following foreign national relatives to immigrate to the U.S.:
- Husband or wife
- Unmarried son or daughter of any age.
In any case, the sponsor must be able to provide proof of the relationship.
Employment Based Immigrant Visas
If you want to become an immigrant based on the fact that you have a permanent employment opportunity in the United States, or if you are an employer that wants to sponsor someone for lawful permanent residency based on permanent employment in the United States, you must go through a multi-step process.
First, foreign nationals and employers must determine if the foreign national is eligible for lawful permanent residency under one of USCIS' paths to lawful permanent residency.
Second, most employment categories require that the U.S. employer complete a labor certification request (Form ETA 750) for the applicant, and submit it to the Department of Labor's Employment and Training Administration. Labor must either grant or deny the certification request. Qualified alien physicians who will practice medicine in an area of the United States which has been certified as underserved by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services are relieved from this requirement.
Third, USCIS must approve an immigrant visa petition, Form I-140, Petition for Alien Worker, for the person wishing to immigrate to the United States. The employer wishing to bring the applicant to the United States to work permanently files this petition. However, if a Department of Labor certification is needed the application can only be filed after the certification is granted. The employer acts as the sponsor (or petitioner) for the applicant (or beneficiary) who wants to live and work on a permanent basis in the United States.
Fourth, the State Department must give the applicant an immigrant visa number, even if the applicant is already in the United States. When the applicant receives an immigrant visa number, it means that an immigrant visa has been assigned to the applicant. You can check the status of a visa number in the Department of State's Visa Bulletin.
Fifth, if the applicant is already in the United States, he or she must apply to adjust to permanent resident status after a visa number becomes available. If the applicant is outside the United States when an immigrant visa number becomes available, he or she will be notified and must complete the process at his or her local U.S. consulate office.
There are four categories for granting permanent residence to foreign nationals based upon employment
- EB-1 Priority Workers
- EB-2 Professionals with advanced degrees or person with exceptional ability
- EB-3 Skilled or Professional Workers
- EB-4 Special Immigrants
EB-5 Visa - Immigration through Investment
EB5 Investor Visa Category - Overview
Currently, the Immigration and Nationality Act allows 10,000 immigrant visas per year, which are available to qualified individuals seeking permanent resident status on the basis of their engagement in a new commercial enterprise.
Of the 10,000 investor visas (i.e., EB-5 visas) available annually, 5,000 are set aside for those who apply under a pilot program involving an USCIS-designated "Regional Center."
What is a Regional Center?
- Is an entity, organization or agency that has been approved as such by the USCIS
- Focuses on a specific geographic area within the United States; and
- Seeks to promote economic growth through increased export sales, improved regional productivity, creation of new jobs, and increased domestic capital investment.
The foreign investors must:
- Demonstrate that a "qualified investment" is being made in a new commercial enterprise located within an approved Regional Center; and,
- Show, using reasonable methodologies, that 10 or more jobs are actually created either directly or indirectly by the new commercial enterprise through revenues generated from increased exports, improved regional productivity, job creation, or increased domestic capital investment resulting from the pilot program.
EB5 Visa- Eligibility
Permanent resident status based on EB-5 eligibility is available to investors, either alone or coming with their spouse and unmarried children. Eligible foreign investors are those who have invested -- or are actively in the process of investing -- the required amount of capital into a new commercial enterprise that they have established. They must further demonstrate that this investment will benefit the United States economy and create the requisite number of full-time jobs for qualified persons within the United States.
In general, eligible individuals include those:
- Who establish a new commercial enterprise by:
- creating an original business;
- purchasing an existing business and simultaneously or subsequently restructuring or reorganizing the business such that a new commercial enterprise results; or
- expanding an existing business by 140 percent of the pre-investment number of jobs or net worth, or retaining all existing jobs in a troubled business that has lost 20 percent of its net worth over the past 12 to 24 months; and
- Who have invested -- or who are actively in the process of investing -- in a new commercial enterprise:
- at least $1,000,000, or
- at least $500,000 where the investment is being made in a "targeted employment area," which is an area that has experienced unemployment of at least 150 per cent of the national average rate or a rural area as designated by OMB; and
- Whose engagement in a new commercial enterprise will benefit the United States economy and:
- create full-time employment for not fewer than 10 qualified individuals; or
- maintain the number of existing employees at no less than the pre-investment level for a period of at least two years, where the capital investment is being made in a "troubled business," which is a business that has been in existence for at least two years and that has lost 20 percent of its net worth over the past 12 to 24 months.
Once the requisite forms are filed and the application is approved the foreign investor and his/her dependents may obtain status as a conditional resident.
Permanent Resident Based on Investment
Eligible investors with condition residence for two years may apply for removal of conditions and obtain lawful permanent residence. The applications must be filed within 90 days before the second anniversary of the foreign investor's admission to the United States as a conditional resident.
Cities Supported: San Bernardino, Redlands, Yucaipa, Colton, Muscoy, Fontana, Rialto, Banning, Big Bear, Coachella Valley Crestline, High Desert, Hesperia, Indian Wells Adelanto, Victorville, Grand Terrace, Rancho Cucamonga, Upland, Ontario, Palm Springs Pomona, Chino, Montclair, Riverside, Moreno Valley, Corona.