In order to obtain a tourist visa, the applicant must submit convincing documents showing his/her connection with his/her home country and indicating that the applicant will return after a business, health or tourism trip. It would be necessary for the consular officer to be able to conclude that the applicant has enough valid reasons which required him to return his/her country after the trip to the United States. In this context, the applicant’s conditions such as work, school, and fixed assets in his home country are of importance at the time of the application.

First of all, it is essential to get an international acceptance from a USA based-school authorized to issue Form I-20. In addition, applicants are expected to submit documents showing how to cover the costs of education and living in the United States. Apart from these, the applicants must submit some convincing documents proving s/he will return his/her home country when the education is completed, just like the tourist visa (B1/B2 Visa).

Apart from visiting the United States as students or tourists, foreginers can come to the USA with many different purposes. Working and investment visas are the leading categories of this context. Here are some working visa types: O-1 visa is granted to aliens with extraordinary abilities; H-1B visa for bachelor’s degree holders (or equivalent) with special knowledge and skill; L-1 visa for the inter-company transfers of the executives, managers, or personnels with special knowledge; P visa issued for the artists with the purpose of performing a show in the US; or I visa for the media members to perform their duties.

Apart from the working visas, there are some other visa types for applicants with the purpose of investment and commercial activities. Applicants with the investment purposes can apply for E-2 visa, and applicants with the purpose of developing trade with their own country can apply for E-1 visa.

Please visit our blog for more information on these visas.

In order to obtain an H-1B visa for jobs that require special knowledge that can be acquired through a bachelor's degree or higher educational attainments; or an L-1 visa for the transfer of international executives - managers or personnel with special knowledge to their group company or affilate in the United States; or an O-1 visa that requires extraordinary knowledge and experience in various fields; you should first find a job in the relevant areas in the US and your employer is required to apply to  the US immigration agency, USCIS. Upon approval by the USCIS, the applicant could go to the consulate and apply for the visa.

Investor and Trader visas are issued to the citizens of treaty countries. If the applicant is outside the United States, it is not required to get approval from the US immigration office (USCIS) first. The investor and/or the trader can directly apply and  obtain visa  from the US consulate. Please visit our blogs for detailed information on investor and merchant visas (E-1 and E-2 visas).

If you would like to enroll to an educational program while you are in the US with a tourist visa (B-1/B-2) or a J-1 (e.g, Work and Travel) or with any other non-immigrant visa (H-1B, O-1, E-2, E-1 etc.), you can change your  status to F-1 (student status) by applying to USCIS. That being said, it is useful to emphasize one thing at this point. Particularly those who apply for change of status to F-1 (student status) shortly after coming to the US with a tourist visa is met with skepticism by the USCIS (immigration office). Therefore, it is recommended that those concerned return to their countries and apply to a student visa in their country of origin. However, those who opt to remain in the U.S can request a Change of Status (form I-539) and stay in the US until the completion of the F-1 application process. Please note that, unlike the other visa types, those who applied for a student visa are required to maintain their current visa status until the applications are approved.

Processing times are separate for each kind of applications. You can find out how long the relevant application can be processed by visiting USCIS’s web page.

Expedited processing could be requested if a strong humanitarian consideration has occurred due to exceptional circumstances. In this case, the related department would decide whether the request is appropriate and approvable. Apart from these, expedited processing could be requested for certain applications (e.g., E-2, L-1, H-1B, P-3) via a procedure named Premium Processing by paying an additional service fee. In this case, USCIS guarantees 15 calendar days processing for petitions submitted through premium processing.

The most common ways of getting a Green Card in the US might be considered in three broad categories: Green Card through family, Green Card through Employment and Green Card through Investment. Green Card through Family category allows immediate (parent, children younger than 21and spouse of the US Citizens) and certain other relatives of the US citizens (children older than 21, brothers, sisters) and family members of Green Card holders (Spouses and Children) to apply for a Green Card. Of course, each application category should be considered separately with respect to its peculiar quota and procedures. It might take siblings of the US citizens years to obtain a Green Card since they are subject to quotas with long waiting periods whereas immediate relatives (parents, spouses and children under 21) could get their Green Card right after they complete the application procedures due to the fact that there is no quota for this category. On the other hand, Green Card holders’ family members are also subject to quotas and since waiting periods are not constant, visa bulletin should be monitored all the time.

Employment-based option is another Green Card category that contains three sub-categories named first, second, and third preference immigrant workers. First preference immigrant workers sub-category refers to individuals with extraordinary abiliites,  outstanding professors and researchers and multinational executives and/or managers. Second preference sub-category is essentially associated with professions that require a master or higher degree. Finally, third preference immigrant workers sub-category is applied to those having professional jobs that require a U.S bachelor’s degree or equivalent and to those skilled workers possessing a job that requires a minimum two-year of training and/or experience. There is an important distinction between the first and the two remaining sub-categories. While employers are obliged to obtain a Labor Certification, which documents insufficiency of the US workforce in the relevant occupation and location and hiring such alien would not adversely effect the US workers, through a system called PERM (Program Electronic Review Management) before filing an immigration petition for an alien worker in second and third preference immigrant subcategories, this is not mandatory for the first preference group.

The last category to be mentioned here is the investment-based Green Cards. Individuals who invested at least $1 million in a new enterprise in the US and led to the creation of at least 10 fulltime U.S. jobs for at least two years could apply for a Green Card. Keep in mind that if the investment is made in

targeted employment areas, the minimum amount would be lowered from $1 million to $500,000.

Some Green Card categories allow remaining in the US after the application procedures are completed as long as quotas are available. However, it would be more convenient to discuss the details with an immigration attorney since this topic abounds with vagueness and technical issues.

You can apply for a naturalization in the United States if you were physically present for 3 months in U.S. before filing the application and have satisfied the continuous residence requirement. You have to be able show that you had 5 years of continuous residence in the United States as a green card holder (3 years if the green card is based on a marriage). USCIS allows applicants to send in the application for citizenship up to 6 months before satisfying the residence requirement.

Applicants must be 18 years of age, be able to speak, understand, read and write basic English, and to have a basic knowledge of U.S. history and government. If an applicant has a child who is under the age of 18 becomes naturalized with the parent, no separate application needs to be filed.

Applicants must also show that they were physically present in the U.S. for at least 30 months out of 5 years; the physical requirement is 18 months out 3 years if the green card was based on a marriage. There is no requirement on the travels abroad, however, any foreign trip that exceeds 180 days might be presumed to have broken the continuous residence requirement. Any foreign trip that exceeds one year is definitively considered to have broken the continuous residence requirement.

The application process usually takes about between 6 to 9 months. Application process is finalized by attending the interview and taking the civics test. For your application, it is good to have ready all of your travels, court records, tax returns, and etc. Therefore, it will be very helpful to keep records of such documents. Finally, applicants are expected to have a good moral character.


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