The USA was founded by immigrants from European countries. For two hundred years, Americans brought here millions of African people as slaves, and in the 20th century, people immigrated here, fleeing world wars. Not surprisingly, US residents often call themselves the "nation of immigrants". Although the land has long been inhabited, slavery abolished, and a new world-scale conflict did not happen, only in 2018 more than 533 thousand people received immigrant status in the United States. People come here primarily for prosperity: the United States takes 6th place among the best countries for immigration. Whether immigrants are welcome here or not is a controversial question. On the one hand, the US has no need to encourage immigration: they are already one of the world leaders in terms of the number of immigrants, 10 million of which are in the country illegally. On the other hand, the USA has a simplified immigration regime for prominent figures in culture, science, sports, and business. Talented students can receive financial support for studying at the best universities in the country and the world, such as Harvard, MIT, Caltech. There is also a liberal family immigration policy in the United States: children, parents and even brothers and sisters of a US citizen can receive a green card. Same-sex marriages are also legalized in the country.
Reasons to immigrate to the USA
One of the best travel passports. With a US citizen passport, you can visit 184 countries without a visa, including Europe and almost all countries in America. A US passport is ranked 17th among the best travel passports in the world.
Diverse nature. Scientists identify 8 climate zones in the United States.
Political freedoms. The United States is among the world's leaders in terms of human rights and political freedoms.
Freedom of expression. Americans value personal freedom of expression. They freely express views, create communities and respect an individual way of life.
Freedom of religion The principle of religious freedom is protected by the US Constitution. Throughout the history of the United States, several dozen religions and churches arose, including Baptism, Scientology, and even the Church of Satan.
Good medical care. The US occupies the 37th (out of 191) place by the quality of medical care.
American cultural salad bowl. The peculiarity of American society is that it was formed as a multicultural one, therefore it is easier for visitors to adapt.
Reasons not to immigrate to the USA
Expensive immigration. Bureaucratic red tape associated with immigration is accompanied by expensive fees for filing various applications and petitions.
Expensive higher education. In the USA there is no free higher education: a year of study on average will cost between 25000 to 35,000 USD per year — and this is without the cost of accommodation and travel. Even the US citizens cannot always afford to study at American universities.
Expensive medical care. The minimum cost of insurance is about 206 USD/month — and the prices can go even higher. People without paid insurance often cannot use the whole spectrum of medical services — this problem today causes a lot of debate in American society.
The huge wealth gap. The difference in incomes between different social classes in the United States is twice as high as, for example, in France — and continues to increase.
Immigration to the US is a costly process. And it is neither the high cost of plane tickets to fly to the other hemisphere nor the cost of education and life: already at the stage of applying for an immigrant visa, you will have to pay for almost every bureaucratic procedure that accompanies interactions with American departments. On the other hand, the United States does not have an official language requirement, so the only category that should confirm English proficiency for immigration is students. In addition, in the USA there is a unique free lottery that awards a green card (American residence permit).
Ways to immigrate to the United States
Lottery green card
You can apply for a US visa in a US Embassy in your home country. The complete list of embassies can be seen here.
General requirements for a visa
The collection of documents for a visa is a crucial stage that decides whether the candidate will be given permission to enter the country. While for each type of immigration and for each individual situation the set of documents is always unique, there are several general requirements for visa documents.
Photo for a US visa
When applying for a visa, you must provide photographs that meet strict special requirements. Requirements may change — before making a photograph, it is necessary to check the current information.
Requirements for photographs for a US visa
Size 5x5 cm;
Photo not older than 6 months;
On a white background;
Neutral facial expression;
The image of the eyes at the level of 28–35 mm from the bottom of the photo;
Without glasses and hats;
Vaccination for immigrants
Candidates for immigrant visas are required to have a number of necessary vaccinations. Vaccination should be done as early as possible, as the process may take an indefinite amount of time depending on the individual situation and personal vaccination calendar. A statement of previous preventive vaccinations, certified by a doctor, and with the seal of a medical institution, must be brought for a medical examination.
You can get a visa to the United States without applying for a scholarship, but in this case, you will need to prove that you have enough money for travel, accommodation and expensive training.
Preparation for immigration should begin at least a year prior in order to pass the language and entrance exams and receive confirmation of admission. It is recommended that you apply for a visa no later than 3 months before your intended departure.
Working while studying in the USA
Foreign students in the USA can work part-time on campus for no more than 20 hours a week. The source of additional income will make life easier, but will not be sufficient to cover living expenses and tuition. Students with an F-1 visa can also take a paid internship (up to 1 year) in the field of their educational program.
This is the easiest way to immigrate, which does not require huge sums of money in your accounts, education or professional experience. It will be possible to obtain citizenship after three years of living in the United States in marriage (for other categories — 5 years). For marriage immigration, you need to get a special visa for the Fiancé(e) — K. This visa is needed to enter the country and marry a citizen or resident of the country. After that, you can apply for a green card as the spouse of a US citizen or resident. Same-sex marriage is also legal.
Visa costs for fiancé(e) (Visa K)
Requirements for the visa of the fiancé(e)
Translation of all documents into English;
Evidence of genuine relationships.
The consequences of arranging a fictitious marriage
Migration Service checks the conscientiousness of the spouses even after the marriage. For example, when an immigrant decides to change his status from conditional permanent to permanent. The punishment for fraud is strict:
Deportation from the USA;
Further denial of immigration benefits in the United States;
Punishment of 5 years in prison;
Up to 250,000 USD fine.
US immigration process through marriage
Send petition for Alien Fiancé(e) / Form I-129F to USCIS in Dallas (the petition must be sent by a citizen-partner or a holder of the US green card);
Wait for the petition to be approved and transferred at first to the National Visa Center (NVC) for further processing, then to the US mission to the country of the visa applicant;
Receive instructions from the US mission to prepare for the interview;
Send the paperwork via email: scanned copies of the DS-160 confirmation page, passport (information page), birth certificate, police certificate, divorce certificates, name and military ID (information page) change certificates (minimum three business days before the interview);
Pass the interview at the US Embassy (bring originals and certified translations of documents);
Wait for the fiancé(e) K1 visa to be issued (terms are individual);
Passport: original + photocopy of the information page. Passport must be valid for at least 60 extra days after the visa expires;
Birth certificate (original and copy);
Documents confirming the end of all previous marriages (if any): originals, copies, translations, if necessary;
Military ID (original, photocopies of all filled pages);
Police certificate for all names and surnames (including maiden) held prior, as well as dates of birth, if they changed, with information about each place where the applicant lived or lives (including studies) for more than 6 months, starting from the age of 16;
Police certificate from other countries of residence (more than a year);
Extracts from court decisions (originals, photocopies and translations): a certified copy of each court decision, regardless of the outcome of the court;
An immigrant visa is issued to several categories of immigrants in the United States: workers, investors, family immigrants and the winners of the green card lottery. For this reason, both the main body of paperwork and additional documents are practically the same not depending on the purpose of the move for these categories.
Main documents for an immigrant visa
Passport, valid for at least 6 months at the time of the proposed date of entry into the United States;
A work visa to the USA is designed for five categories of candidates, which include remarkable people, professionals, contractors, entrepreneurs, investors, and others. A common feature of the US labor immigration process is that the prospective immigrant or his employer must first fill out an immigration petition to the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). An application for an immigrant visa will be possible only after the approval of the petition and reception of the invitation. A work visa to the USA is an immigration visa — not only it will open the entrance to the country but it will also give the right to receive a green card after entry.
Does the US need labor immigration?
The USA is the state with the highest GDP in the world. It requires labor immigration due to the needs of the constantly growing economy. Simultaneously, they strive to bring together prominent figures of science, business and other fields from around the world, and therefore offer them streamlined immigration conditions, and professionals of various qualifications who will fill vacant jobs. For the same reason, the United States also offers immigration options for businessmen / investors — the state expects them to invest in the economy, which will create new jobs.
Categories of labor immigration
Filling out a petition
The most remarkable figures in science, art, education, business, sports;
Prominent professionals and scientists;
Directors and managers of multinational corporations
Yourself / Employer
Professionals with degrees;
People with exceptional abilities in science, business, and art;
Professionals whose work is in US national interest
Yourself / Employer
Unskilled (other) employees
Retired employees of international organizations;
Some US government workers overseas;
Immigration for certain categories requires a job offer from a US employer who, in this case, acts as a sponsor of an immigrant. In this role, he sends the immigration Petition I-140 to the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Its registration and approval gives the candidate a green light for applying for a visa. The most prominent figures in various fields can file a petition themselves. The spouse of the candidate and his children under the age of 21 can also obtain immigrant visas on the basis of an approved petition.
Entering the United States with a package of documents for the border service and the results of photofluorography on hand;
Obtaining a permanent residence permit (green card) at the address of residence in the USA (waiting period of up to 120 days).
Read more about immigration for investors on the website of the US State Department.
Immigration for businessmen and investors
Businessmen and investors can immigrate to the USA if they invest in the American economy. At the same time, these investments should create from 10 jobs (full time) for citizens, US residents or immigrants with the right to work, not counting the spouse and children of the investor. Minimum investment amount:
1,000,000 USD ;
500,000 USD to a company located in rural areas or in areas with a high unemployment rate.
An investor visa is a work visa, so the application process is the same as for other work visas.
A detailed description of the requirements for investors is on the website of the Citizenship and Immigration Services.
Documents confirming the presence of funds for investment and their effect on business development (financial reports, documents on the candidate’s participation in managing the business in the USA and other supporting documents).
An investor must file a I-526 petition by themselves to the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Its registration and approval give the candidate a green light for applying for an immigrant visa. Documents confirming investment activity must be attached to the petition — their description is on the USCIS Service website. The spouse of the candidate and his children under the age of 21 can also obtain immigrant visas on the basis of an approved petition.
Family reunification in the United States
Family immigration policy in the United States is quite liberal — not only close relatives (spouse, children) but also parents, brothers and sisters can immigrate to join a US citizen. The closest relatives of green card holders can also get the right to get an immigrant visa through the family line, which allows immigrants to invite their family to the United States. In either case, the immigrant or resident / citizen of the United States must file a petition with the Citizenship and Immigration Service for his loved one. You can apply for an immigrant visa only after its approval.
Visa for the immediate family of a US citizen
Unmarried child up to 21 years old;
Parent of a US citizen who is at least 21 years old;
Brothers, sisters of a citizen.
Immigrant visa for relatives of green card holders (residence permit)
Expenditure on family immigration to the United States
DS-260 (family member)
Petition I-130 is filled by the hosting citizen or a resident in the United States. It is the first step to applying for a family immigration visa. When the petition is approved and registered, the candidate will receive a notice from the US Citizenship and Immigration Services and will be able to apply for an immigrant visa. The spouse of the candidate and his children under the age of 21 can also obtain immigrant visas on the basis of an approved petition.
Each fall, the United States holds a Diversification Immigrant lottery, the winners of which can receive a permanent residence permit in the country — the green card. Every year 50 thousand people come to the United States to live with their families, with the help of this program. To participate, you must register online on the official website of the lottery. The winners apply for an immigrant visa with the same basic package of documents and in the same way as labor and family immigrants and receive a green card a few weeks after entering the United States.
Humanitarian immigration to the United States
People who have left their home country and cannot or do not want to return to it because of the fact or risk of persecution, can obtain asylum in the United States. In this case, the candidate must present evidence that will convince the United States to provide him protection.
Humanitarian immigrants in the United States fall into two categories: refugees and asylum seekers. A refugee is not originally in the United States: he receives a referral to the refugee program through the United Nations, non-governmental human rights organizations, or the US Embassy. If the US mission approves the candidate’s application, they help him move to the country, and the United States covers the immigration expenses. An asylum seeker arrives in the United States and applies for asylum on his own, awaiting a decision in the United States.
The status of refugee or asylum seeker gives the right to employment and social guarantees. Humanitarian immigrants take cultural integration courses and receive pocket money. Humanitarian immigrants receive a temporary visa, which can be replaced with a green card free of charge in a year.
Groups that can count on asylum in the USA
People who are persecuted in their home country on the grounds of:
Membership in a social group (including sexual minorities);
How to prove the fact of the persecution
It is necessary to provide as much evidence of the persecution as possible:
Inquiries from medical institutions;
Received letters with threats;
Evidence of engagement with human rights organizations.
It must be reported if the refugee was subjected to torture, serious bodily harm was inflicted, or there is a threat of his death penalty at home due to persecution on the basis of the indicated signs.
Requirements for asylum or refugee status in the USA
To locate outside the United States (in a third country) for refugees or in the United States for asylum;
To have no refugee or asylum status in another country;
To prove the fact or risk of persecution on the grounds of race, religion, nationality, political views or membership in a social group.
Identification including a passport and birth certificate (bring along all the available documents);
The process of obtaining asylum yourself in the USA
Arrival in the USA. In case of illegal entry, the candidate is sent to an immigration prison. However, the exemption can be obtained by proving the existence of ties and financial support in the United States at the time of the hearing;
Filling out I-589 form no later than one year after arrival;
Submitting biometric data;
Consideration (duration may vary on a case by case basis);
Applying for a green card with I-485 after 1+ years of residence in the USA.
The process of obtaining refugee status from outside of the United States
Requesting help from the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, US Embassy or a private at human rights organization;
Obtaining a referral to the US Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP);
Interviewing a USCIS employee abroad;
Passing a medical examination;
Making a decision (individual review time);
Departure to the USA;
Applying for I-485 green card after 1+ years of residence in the USA.
Obtaining US citizenship
Citizenship gives an immigrant full political rights — for example, the right to elect and be elected. In addition, the holder of a US passport receives the right to a visa-free entry to almost any country in the world. Citizenship can be obtained by the law of the soil, being born in the United States, even if the parents do not have American citizenship or a green card, or by naturalization, when the holder of the green card becomes a citizen.
Conditions for obtaining citizenship at birth
Be born in the United States or in the United States overseas possessions (American Samoa and Swains Island);
Have at least one US citizen parent at the time of birth in another country and be under 18 years old.
Requirements for obtaining citizenship by naturalization
The presence of a permanent residency (green card) in the United States;
Reside in the USA for a minimum of 5 years on a green card while being absent from the country for less than 6 months (3 years for spouses of US citizens);
Fluency in English;
Knowledge of the history and social structure of the United States.
The process of obtaining citizenship
Taking English and citizenship tests (2 attempts) at the Citizenship and Immigration Service (the civics test in which the officer asks questions about the US in English);
Applying for citizenship with an N-400 form (725 USD);
Receiving an invitation to the ceremony of taking the oath of allegiance to the United States upon approval of the application;
Submission of a green card and obtaining a certificate of naturalization;
Applying for a US passport to the Department of State;
Obtaining a passport (this period may vary, so it is recommended not to plan any travel in the near future after applying).
Read more about obtaining citizenship on the US Citizenship and Immigration Services website.
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