The United States of America (USA) is known as the land of opportunities. Many people aspire to immigrate to the USA to fulfill their American Dreams, which are believed to be achievable regardless of where and what class a person was born. Getting a Permanent Residence (Green Card) in the US is a dream for many immigrants as it grants them the authorization to live and work in the United States permanently. Obtaining your PR in the USA is not impossible; all you need is preparation and planning in advance. The immigration regulations in the USA are based on some core principles, namely the admission of immigrants with valuable skills that benefit the country, reuniting families, safeguarding refugees, and promotion of culture and diversity. The INA (Immigration & Nationality Act) is the legal statute behind immigration policies in the USA. The country offers up to 675,000 permanent visas annually in multiple categories, as per reports. Additionally, the USA does not impose any limits on the addition of spouses, children (below 21 years of age), and parents of US citizens.
Upon getting the immigrant visa and arriving in the country, the holder will become an LPR or lawful permanent resident. In some cases, non-citizens within the country become LPR status holders through adjustment of status, a specific procedure. LPRs have eligibility for applying for almost all types of employment opportunities and can stay permanently in the USA, even when unemployed. After staying for five years in the country, they can finally apply to obtain citizenship.
PR in the USA- Permanent Visas
Wondering how to get PR in the USA? Green Card holders are permanent residents or those with legal authorization to permanently reside and work in the country. USCIS (US Citizenship and Immigration Services) offers a permanent resident card or Green Card as proof. Individuals may become permanent residents in several ways.
How many years to get PR in the USA?
In most cases, it may require two years for Green Cards to become available, and the whole procedure may need close to three years. Many people have sponsorship from employers or family members in the USA. Some may also become permanent residents of the country via asylee or refugee status, while some may get entry via humanitarian initiatives. Some cases may have people becoming eligible to file for green cards themselves.
You have to visit the USCIS website to find out whether you are eligible or not for a green card. It is a must as far as applying for PR in the USA for Indian citizens is concerned. Thereafter, you have to visit the USCIS green card forms page and find out the forms you should fill out before submitting them online. This is the most important step towards applying for your PR status. You have to follow the instructions online carefully.
Is it easy to get PR in the USA?
While it is not as hard as you think, it is not exactly a cakewalk! You will have to apply as per the exact instructions given without missing out on any documentary proof. You should ensure that USCIS can process your application. Students often wonder how to get PR in the USA after studying- they can look for employee sponsorship in this case, seek asylum, marry a citizen of the USA, get sponsorship from a business-owning relative, or take part in military service or military service get child/parent sponsorship.
Temporary USA Visas
Temporary work visas like J, H, E, O, L, R, and P are granted by the USA. The most common visitor visa types are B-2 and B-1, while there is a visa waiver initiative. Those studying in the country may apply for M-1, F-1, and J-1 visas.
The B-1 visa is for business visitors, while the B-2 visa is applicable for tourists. On 21st October last year, the US Department of State also issued an official proposal for doing away with the B-1 visa instead of the H visa. International citizens entering the country should first get nonimmigrant visas for temporary residence or immigrant visas for permanent residence.
Those from countries where people do not usually stay beyond their visa durations have eligibility to visit for about 90 days without B visa applications. This is called the visa waiver program. These people have to finish ESTA or Electronic System for Travel Authorization online before visiting the USA. Visitor visa applicants should demonstrate that they are eligible under the INA regulations. Applicants should prove that they only intend to enter the USA for pleasure, medical treatment or business purposes while remaining for a specific and limited duration. They should prove a residence outside the USA and other binding commitments, ensuring that they will return after finishing their trip.
The DS-160 Form has several categories of people without eligibility to get these visas. Visitor visa applications may be done at US Consulates or Embassies. B visa applicants should provide the signed and completed application form, valid passports, photographs as per specifications and optional documentation wherever needed. Those going for medical treatment should have institutional or doctor’s statements about the same. Those without proper funds should offer evidence of any other individual offering support.
These visas enable innumerable international students to enrol at USA public schools and universities. Eligibility criteria should be checked carefully along with qualification under OPT (optional practical training) for a work permit. You should also check how to change your status to a professional employee (H1-B) after completing your education.
This temporary visa is for those coming to the USA to work professionally and also distinguished fashion models. Regular occupations under H1-B include engineers, doctors, IT professionals, accountants, teachers, healthcare professionals, architects, and more. 20,000 H-1B visas are also allocated for those with advanced educational degrees from higher education institutions in the USA. USCIS takes H-1B appeals from various employers annually, beginning from the 1st of April. Those with approved H-1B visa petitions may start employment from the 1st of October.
The steps towards hiring H-1B professional workers encompass filing LCAs (labor conditions applications) with the Labor Department. LCA approval notices should be filed with I-129 petitions by employers or companies. Terms and conditions include stating the responsibility of the employer for covering return travel costs of employees who are terminated before the conclusion of the employment period. Foreign specialty professionals do not have to maintain their foreign residences and may look for permanent residency in the USA.
The H-1B1 category applies to those undertaking specialty occupations, needing practical and theoretical manifestation of highly advanced knowledge. Documents for the H-1B petition include copies of foreign degrees of applicants, licenses, contracts, specialty occupation evidence, the certified LCA from the Labor Department, and more. The H-1B2 segment applies to those coming for research and development projects via the Department of Defense. The I-129 form has to be filed by the employer, outlining the employment description, names of those who are not permanent residents, and employment dates. LCAs are not needed for this category.
Multiple Visa Categories
Here’s taking a closer look at some of the visa categories for the USA:
B-1 and B-2 visas are granted for business visitors and tourists, respectively.
H1-B in case of specialty occupations, H-2A for those who are seasonal agriculture professionals, H-1-B-1 for temporary basis work visas, H-3 for those who are trainees (valid up to two years), H-2B for unskilled and skilled workers, L-1 for intra-company transfers, H-4 for dependents (unmarried children below 21 and spouses of visa holders) and L-2 for dependents of L-visa holders (unmarried children below the age of 21 and spouses).
This visa is given to specialists in business, science, arts, education, athletics, television, film, etc.
This visa is granted to entertainers, performers, athletes, and others coming to perform in the country.
This visa is needed for those visiting to participate in any international exchange program or cultural event, to offer employment, training, sharing culture/history and home traditions.
Students have to apply for their visas within 120 days from the commencement of the I-20 and may travel within 30 days from this date. The F-1 visa is for those who wish to pursue academics in US English language programs and schools. M-1 visas are available for those planning vocational and non-academic training.
Exchange Visitor Visas-
Foreign citizens may visit the USA for taking part in exchange programs. J visas are available for students, teachers, research scholars, professional trainees, and those coming for consultation, research, travel, etc.
There are Transit C and Crew D visas on offer.
Religious Worker Visas-
These are R-type visas for those willing to work temporarily in the USA.
Visas for domestic employees-
These are G-5 and A-3 visas for those applying as footmen, housemaids, butlers, cooks, nannies, chauffeurs, mothers helpers, paid companions, and gardeners.
These visas are for foreign journalists and medical professionals.
Visitor’s visas are for those traveling to attend any event/meeting/conference, academic pursuits, leisure and vacations, guest lectures, buying media equipment, etc. Temporary work visas are given to those traveling for filming, television, shows, set design, librarians, proofreaders, and producing media or artistic content. Children (below the age of 21) and spouses may apply for B-2 visas for accompanying the main visa holder.
Getting work permits/visas for the USA
Temporary work visas are issued for those entering the country for taking up employment that covers a fixed and limited duration. All visas should have employers filing their petitions individually with the USCIS (U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service). Approved official petitions are needed for work visa applications.
Requirements for multiple visa types:
Should have a specialty occupation and a higher education degree/equivalent.
Should have a specialty occupation with a post-secondary educational qualification with four years of minimum study in a specialized field.
Only for non-agricultural seasonal or temporary work. Limited only for people from specific countries.
This is only for seasonal or temporary agricultural work. It is only limited to citizens from specific countries.
Should come for specialized training that is not academic or medical graduate training, which is unavailable in the applicant’s home country. Those coming for training in children’s education, especially those with physical, emotional, or mental disabilities, are also eligible.
Only for journalists and people working in the media/information sectors.
Only for those transferred to any parent entity, branch, subsidiary or affiliate entity of the present organization in an executive/managerial capacity or a position requiring specialized training and knowledge. The individual should have employment from the same company for a minimum of one year within the last three years.
Only for performing at any particular athletic or entertainment event. Should have an internationally distinguished performance record.
Only for performers, artists, and those giving services to them.
Should coach/teach under a unique or traditional program or come for an artistic, musical, cultural, folk, or theatrical presentation/performance.
Helps foreign nationals come to the USA and work at any religious organization.
This is only for scientists, engineers, lawyers, and teachers from Canada.
This is for those with expert knowledge and recognition in education, science, athletics, art, business, etc.
Qualifications for work visas-
- The applicant should have a job offer or employment within the USA. Documents from the employer will be needed to begin the application for your visa.
- The employer should file the petition for nonimmigrant workers with the USCIS. This petition (I-129 form) is the vital document for the visa. You can start applying once it obtains approval.
- Labour certificate with Department of Labor approval is also necessary for H-1B1, H-1B, H-2B, and H-2A visas. The USA Government needs the certificate for proving that employers in the USA require foreign workers.
Requirements for applicants:
- A valid passport
- Receipt number on the I-129 form
- DS-160 confirmation page
- Receipt of application fee payment
- Proof of return to the home country (economic circumstances, residence, family, return airfare, family ties, etc.)
- I-129S form for those applying in the L-visa category.
- Fill up the DS-160 form and submit it.
- Schedule your interview appointment.
- Take the interview and answer all questions confidently while being honest and accurate.
- Finish all added formalities, including giving your digital fingerprints/biometrics and paying all the requisite charges.
- You may apply for visas for spouse/children in the same category (H4 for H-visa holders, O-3 for O-visa holders, L-2 for L visa holders and P-4 for P-visa holders).
The Labor Department gives LCA to companies planning to employ foreign professionals. This provides the employer with the right to hire employees without LPR status and sponsor their visas. Those with nonimmigrant visas cannot immediately begin work. They have to get their work permits likewise. This work permit in the USA is known as the EAD (Employment Authorization Document), and it is given immediately once the visa gets approval. The EAD offers permission to work legally at any company in the USA for the entire duration of the visa. Spouses, if they are eligible, may also obtain EAD likewise. You can also apply for extending or renewing your EAD.
Applying for PR in the USA
The Green Card or Permanent Resident card gives you the official status of immigration in the country along with specific rights, responsibilities. It is mandatory if you wish to naturalize as a citizen of the USA.
Here are the steps to be followed:
- Working out your eligibility (You can get your green card via employment, family, asylee/refugee status, special immigrant, other categories, or registry).
- File your Form I-485 or the application for registering permanent residence or adjust status at the official USCIS portal, along with providing all required documents.
- USCIS will be processing and reviewing the visa application before scheduling the interview appointment.
- Attend the interview and give honest and clear answers.
- If your visa is approved and issued, you will get a valid green card for ten years.
You can also renew or replace the green card via Form I-90. Conditional green cards are often issued for just two years. People with these cards may convert the same into ten-year cards with a procedure known as removal of conditions on residency.
How to obtain USA citizenship?
You can become a citizen of the USA via naturalization. This procedure helps those who pledge allegiance to the country to become citizens. Here are the requirements for attaining citizenship:
- You should have had your permanent resident or green card for five years (minimum) or three years (minimum) if you are the spouse of a USA citizen.
- You should renew the green card before your citizenship application in case it expires within six months or has expired already. You may apply for naturalization before getting the new green card in this case, although you will have to furnish the photocopy of the Form I-90 receipt.
- You should also meet specific eligibility criteria, which may be viewed at the USCIS portal. The minimum age while applying is 18 years. Applicants should be able to speak, read and write English, have a sound moral character and go through a 10-stage procedure of naturalization. This includes working out eligibility for American citizenship, completing the N-400 application form and creating the free account for online submission.
- Applicants also have to appear for the US Naturalization Test along with going through an interview.
Upon naturalization, you will get your certificates of naturalization and citizenship. With a parent naturalizing, their kids (below 18 and living with the parent) may automatically get derived citizenship of the USA if they are permanent residents. Children obtaining citizenship via derivation are not required to participate in the ceremony of naturalization.
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