Frequently Asked Questions


1. What are the differences between an immigrant and a non-immigrant?

When applying for a visa, it is important to consider whether you are seeking an immigrant visa or non-immigrant visa. An immigrant visa is issued to someone who wishes to live permanently in the United States, such as someone who wants to join their spouse in the United States. A non-immigrant visa is issued to someone who only wants to reside in the United States on a temporary basis, such as for medical treatment, business, tourism, temporary work or educational pursuits. There are more than 20 different categories of non-immigrant visa classifications.

2. What is an undocumented immigrant?

An undocumented immigrant is someone who does not have legal status to be in the United States. They were born in another country and have not received approval from the United States government to be in this country. Undocumented immigrants may have some claim to status, but as long as they are undocumented, they may be subject to removal.

3. How do I start the process to become a U.S. citizen?

The first step to become a U.S. citizen is to discuss your eligibility with a qualified immigration lawyer. There may be many ways that a person may be eligible for naturalization, including:

• The applicant has been a permanent resident for at least five years

• The applicant has been the spouse of a U.S. citizen for at least three years

• The applicant served in the U.S. military

• The applicant is the child of a U.S. citizen

An experienced immigration lawyer can discuss other qualifications, such as financial, medical and moral qualifications. If you are eligible for citizenship, we can begin the application with you.

4. How do I qualify for a family-based immigrant visa?

Family-based immigration is the primary reason for legal immigration for many people entering the country. United States citizens and permanent residents can sponsor certain family members that allow these family members to receive their own legal resident status. Immediate relatives quality for family visas, which include:

• Spouses of U.S. citizens

• Unmarried children under 21 of U.S. citizens

• Orphans adopted abroad or who will be adopted in the United States by U.S. citizens

• Parents of U.S. citizens who are at least 21 years old 

There are also family preference categories, which include:

• Unmarried children of U.S. citizens, their spouses and their children

• Spouses, minor children and unmarried children over 21 of legal permanent residents

• Married children of U.S. citizens and their spouses and minor children

• Siblings of U.S. citizens, their spouses and their minor children

Both of these groups are eligible for family visas.

5. How do I qualify for an employment-based immigrant visa?

There are five categories of permanent employment-based visas, which include:

• EB-1 visas – EB-1A visas are available to individuals with extraordinary ability in athletics, the arts, education, science or business. EB-1B visas are for outstanding researchers and professors who have garnered international recognition for their contributions. EB-1C visas are for multinational executives or managers. 

• EB-2 visas – These applicants are professional who hold an advanced degree, have exceptional ability or be seeking a national interest waiver so that his or her immigration to the United States will benefit society. 

• EB-3 visas – These visas are available for professionals, skilled workers and unskilled workers. A labor certification must be submitted that shows the need for placement and that an immigrant would not take the job of a person who is already legally in the country. 

• EB-4 visas – These visas are intended for special immigrants, such as broadcasters, certain types of translators, physicians and religious workers. 

• EB-5 visas – Foreign investors who make a $500,000 or $1 million capital investment in a U.S. business that creates at least ten full-time jobs are eligible for this visa.  

6. How long can I expect to wait for a visa?

Many visa applications take more than six months to process. There are a number of factors that can impact the length of time necessary to process your visa application, including:

• Whether all of the questions were answered and supplemental information was provided with your initial application

• The type of visa you are applying for

• Your country of origin

• Whether you require a waiver to process your application

• Whether you work with an experienced immigration lawyer

In some cases, you can pay an extra fee to expedite your visa application.