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Non-immigrant v. Immigrant Visas

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Whether you’re leaving home to temporarily visit or permanently move to the United States, there are two basic types of visas available for you. Here is a guide to visas, so you can determine where you fit in to the picture!

The first question you must ask yourself before it’s asked of you is: are you a non-immigrant or an immigrant?

Non-immigrant Status Visas

Do you have a permanent residence outside the United States but you want to temporarily leave your home to study or tour abroad? Then you might be interested in a non-immigrant visa. Here are some reasons you might visit the U.S. temporarily: medical treatment, tourism, work, and/or study.

The caveat here is that you must prove you are a non-immigrant, as opposed to an immigrant. This process of providing evidence that you deserve a non-immigrant visa is variable and depends on the specific embassy you are dealing with. Remember that you can have all the documents you want on your side and that doesn’t mean you’re guaranteed a visa.

In fact, your non-immigrant visa may be given to you based on a different process than another aspiring non-immigrant traveler might go through; this is simply because people and situations vary so greatly. A younger person studying in the United States will meet different scrutiny than an elderly person seeking medical treatment. Keep in mind that you will have to submit specific documents for your visa – be prepared!

There are dozens of categories that non-immigrants can fit into, including foreign government officials and business or pleasure visitors. Because of these highly-specified categories, there are several types of non-immigrant visas. For example, media and journalists can apply for a non-immigrant visa that gives them the green light to travel to the United States, while Mexican travelers will be interested in a border crossing card. The world of visas is a big and complicated one and unfortunately you can’t navigate it all by yourself – the consular offices will make most of the decisions for you. The best thing you can do is be prepared with the right documents.

Immigrant Visas

People from all over the world immigrate to the United States and they do that with immigrant visas. Occasionally, an individual can apply for an immigrant visa on their own, but more often than not, a relative or potential employer in the United States will apply. Obviously immigrant visas are handed out in a completely different way than non-immigrant visas. The United States government, as opposed to its respective embassy, does have more of a role in the process however.

Don’t forget about student and visitor exchange programs, which make the visa application process a lot easier and more immediately legitimate.

So hopefully now you are more clear about what type of visa you will need to come to America and can stay, whether for a short or a long period of time, legally in the United States.

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