Immigrating to the USA is an exciting prospect that can be filled with anxious
moments. This guide offers a few steps that you can confirm as you go along in the
Whether you want to petition for (file for) a relative so they get a green card, become a
naturalized US citizen, adjust your status in the USA, get asylum, a work permit or just
visit, READ ON
Tip 1 – Research your specific situation. There is a lot of information out there about US
immigration, some of it untrue, so be careful. Watch out for visa scams. There are only some
specific ways in which you can legally live, work or study in the US. This guide looks at a few of
these. The most popular way is by family immigration, meaning a parent, spouse, child, or
sibling petition for you to come to the USA. This method will allow you to become a green card
holder and eventually a naturalized citizen.
Tip 2 – Come to the USA to study in an educational institution. There are many institutions in the
US offering interesting and varied programs to international students. Some students may get
scholarships, others pay their full tuition to come to study. These students get a non-immigrant
visa called a student visa, it lasts for the period of their study, has certain stipulations about
working and maintaining the student status. At the end of the period of study, these students are
expected to return home.
Tip 3 – Come to the USA as an employee – many American employers (ranging from STEM
employers to farmers) need skilled persons to work. There are several visa types that are
available for potential employees to come to the USA to work for a period of time. These visas
are often renewable and, in some cases, may lead to legal permanent resident status. The
employment visa has many categories. These range from employment visas for specialist skills
such as technology, medicine, arts to areas such as agriculture. The employment visa is usually
for a specific period and the holder, in some cases can bring their spouse and minor (under 18
Tip 4 – Come to the USA as an entertainer, artiste, athlete etc- To foster cultural exchange and
bring international talent to the USA to be showcased, there are several visas that are available.
These visas may require that the applicant can prove that in his/her home country, and sometimes
in the international marketplace, there is recognition of their talents and skills. These visas often
need a sponsor in the USA who would be showcasing the talents and skills. These visas are not
generally designed to lead to the visa holder living permanently in the USA.
Tip 5 – The fiancée visa. This is for the fiancé/ee of a United States citizen. The United States
citizen completes the application for the intended spouse to come to the USA and to marry in the
USA. The intended spouse goes to the US consulate in his home country and is interviewed there
when the application is approved. After a successful interview, the intended spouse's passport is
stamped with the visa to travel to the USA. Please note that US law requires that the marriage
takes place within 90 days of the intended spouse arriving in the USA.
Tip 6 – The visitor's visa is one that allows persons to come to the USA for a short period of
time, on a visit, as a tourist, to see relatives and friends and see the sights, sites and sounds of the
country. The visitor is expected to leave on or before the expiry of the time stamped in the
passport. To stay after that time means the visitor has overstayed the visa.
Submitting Your Documents – American immigration requires forms, forms and more forms
Tip 7 – What form begins the process for my visa? Every visa type requires a form. All visas
have fees that must be paid, usually when the forms are being submitted and sometimes later
there are additional fees. Some visa types have specific forms that must be submitted with them.
For example, for a family-based visa, the basic form is called the I 130. This is called the
petition. It completed by the petitioner (the person filing it) who is a United States citizen or a
Legal Permanent Resident green card holder).
Tip 8 – The United States citizen can petition for more categories of family members than the
Legal Permanent Resident. The relationship between the petitioner and the beneficiary (the
person who will be coming to live in the USA permanently) must be proven at the start. For
those who wish to study in the USA, information from the school that will be attended is needed,
financial information on how the intending student will pay for school and how the intending
student will support him/herself for the duration of the academic course is needed. Anyone
seeking to become employed must show proof that there is a job offer.
Tip 9 – Importantly too, the potential employer must adequately show that the potential employee
is not available in the USA. The employer must do things like advertise the job and so on.
Persons who want to come as entertainers, artistes, athletes, as part of a club, a group or any
other such category usually are asked to provide proof of how their coming to America will
enhance Americans' knowledge and understanding of the intending visa holder's skills etc. They
must provide evidence such as itineraries of planned activities, contracts, they may also find it
very useful information on their skills in their home countries and so on (especially if the claim
is that they have some amount of following at home).
Tip 10 – The fiancé/ee visa requires that the United States citizen petitioner completes the I129
application form. The application form must be submitted along with strong documentary proof
of the relationship between the intended spouses. In this digital age, this is crucial, as most
communication is taking place digitally. However, it is especially important to prove to the
immigration authorities that the relationship is a real one. The only way to do this is by
documents, documents and more documents.
Tip 11 – For a visitor's visa, it is only required that the tourist completes the application form,
pays the fee and submits the application online and set an interview date at the nearest consulate
in their home country. The key point about a visitor's visa is that the applicant must convince the
consular officer that he/she does not intend to stay in the USA beyond the time that he/she is
Tip 12 – This is generally called showing that there are sufficient ties with the home country so
the intending visitor will want to return to his/her country. Many persons, in an attempt to do
this, take documents such as their employment status, marital status, birth certificates of children,
proof of ownership of assets in their country (vehicles, homes, land, bank accounts etc).
This e-book is only for general advice; no legal relationship has been created.
Nadine C. Atkinson-Flowers, Esq. © 2020