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USA Immigration Visa

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The American immigration system was created in accordance with the current immigration laws. It is regulated in detail and designed to serve the national interests of the US.

Thanks to this system, US citizens and lawful PRs have the opportunity to reunite with relatives, and US employers to recruit highly qualified foreign specialists.

The current immigration legislation also allows for the support and protection of the rights of refugees from around the world.

The existing immigration system is built in accordance with the constitutional principles of the US. As a result, immigrants enjoy full civil rights and freedoms on an equal footing with US citizens, with the exception of the right to elect and be elected, to hold certain positions in the state apparatus, and are also limited in the right to apply for immigrant visas for their relatives.

Legal PR is a person who is not a US citizen, but who has an immigration visa or who is in the process of changing status and obtaining citizenship. The status of a legal PR is confirmed by the GC, which is a permanent residence permit and work in the USA.

Non-immigrants are citizens of other countries who are allowed to enter the US for a limited period of time on the basis of a temporary (non-immigrant) visa. Non-immigrants are students, tourists, seasonal workers, businessmen, senior executives and diplomats.

Persons who are in the US on temporary (non-immigrant) visas have a limited amount of rights compared to citizens and lawful PR of the US. The scope of the rights that a person temporarily residing in the US possesses depends on the category issued to him by the visa.

How to come to the US as an immigrant?

  • Immigration for family reunification
    Citizens and PRs of the US have the right to apply to the USCIS for extradition to their relatives of immigrant visas. Citizens of the US have the right to apply for the benefit of their spouses, parents, children, as well as brothers and sisters. Legal PRs have the right to apply for an immigrant visa to their spouses and minor children who are not married. The number of people arriving in the US for permanent residence is limited by the annual quota and cannot exceed 480 thousand per year.
  • Working immigration
    An American employer who is interested in hiring a foreign worker with special qualifications may apply to the Citizenship and Immigration Service for an immigrant work visa that grants him the right to permanent residence and work in the US (GC). However, in order to protect the labor rights of Americans, the employer is required to obtain the consent of the US Federal Employment Service for hiring a foreign employee.
  • Refugees
    A person who is persecuted at homeland due to membership in a particular racial, ethnic or religious group, membership in social or political organizations and associations, can apply to the US immigration authorities for asylum in the US.
    In most cases, a foreigner has the right to apply with a petition for recognition as a refugee within one year of his arrival in the US.
    At the expiration of a year from the receipt of this status, the refugee may apply to the Citizenship and Immigration Services with a request for changing his status to a legal PR of the US, which entitles him to work in the US, and the right to return unhindered to the US after a short absence.

How many immigrants are allowed in the US annually?

Current US immigration legislation includes a system of quotas for the annual issuance of immigration visas, as well as a system of preference categories, according to which these visas are distributed.

Currently, the total number of immigrant visas that can be issued to relatives of citizens and PRs of the US is 480 thousand visas per year. This number also includes all unclaimed working immigrant visas.

The degree of kinship with the person applying for the issuance of an immigrant visa is decisive in determining the category of preference.

There are no restrictions on the number of visas for immediate relatives (such as spouses, unmarried children and parents of US citizens) who are entitled to enter the US each year as immigrants.

However, the number of visas for close relatives is deducted from 480 thousand – the threshold amount of visas calculated for all family immigration, which allows to determine the number of other family immigrants receiving visas for the next year (an average of 226 thousand).

  • The number of migrant workers entering is limited by law to 140,000 per year.

In most cases, USCIS provides an immigrant working visa to a foreign national, the employer must obtain a “labor certificate” from the US Department of Labor, confirming the absence of qualified American workers capable and willing to perform the work for which they are employed citizen of another country.

The Labor Department also has to confirm that hiring an alien will not adversely affect the level of wages and working conditions of American workers. This labor certificate is not required for management personnel and managers of multinational corporations, persons with extraordinary abilities and some other categories.

Every year, the US accepts only a limited number of refugees from all over the world. Each year this number is determined by the President after discussion with the US Congress. The total number of annual “places for refugees” is divided among different regions of the world in different ways.

The maximum number of quotas by region is as follows:

Africa 20 thousand Latin America / Caribbean
East Asia 15 thousand Countries of the Near East / South Asia
Europe and Central Asia 15 thousand Free Reserve

Family Immigration

Traditionally, reunification with the family is the fundamental policy that US immigration law adheres to Family immigration, which is a clearly regulated system, allows close relatives of citizens and lawful PRs of the US to reunite with their families in America.

Family immigrants are allowed in the US either as closer relatives of US citizens, or in accordance with the Family Preferential System.

Close relatives are:

  • spouses of US citizens;
  • unmarried minor children of US citizens;
  • parents of US citizens (in case the sponsor is over 21 years old).

On the number of visas allocated annually for direct relatives, there are no restrictions.

The family privileged system allows entry into the US:

  • adult children (both married and unmarried), sibling of US citizens;
  • spouses and unmarried children (adults and minors) of legal PRs.

There is a limited number of visas allocated annually by the Family Preferential System.

According to the current immigration law, visas are distributed as follows:

American sponsor Degree of relative The preferential order, №
USA citizen Unmarried kids (21 y.o and older) First
Lawful PR Spouse and minor kids Second
USA citizen Married kids (21 y.o and older) Third

Due to the above quotas, the waiting period for some categories may exceed 10 years.

More about family immigration

Immigration for the purpose of working in the US

The existing system of priorities in employment allows certain categories of people who have come to the US for work to obtain PR status in the US. The current immigration law allows issuing 140,000 immigration work visas per year.

There are five categories of such visas:

First category Visas of the first category are given to persons who have priority in employment. These include persons with outstanding abilities, outstanding scientists and researchers, some managers and managers of international corporations. The number of visas of this category cannot exceed 40 thousand per year. To this number are added the remaining visas from the fourth and fifth categories.
Second category Visas of the second category are issued to persons who have academic degrees in their specialty, as well as to gifted foreigners. The number of visas of this category can’t exceed 40 thousand per year. To this number are added all not issued visas from the 1st category.
Third category Visas of the third category are given to experienced workers, professionals and other categories of workers. Other categories of workers are persons who are able to perform jobs that do not require qualification, which do not relate to temporary or seasonal work. The number of visas issued to unskilled workers can’t exceed 5 thousand per year. Experienced workers are understood as persons capable of performing qualified jobs that require at least 2 years of work or study in this specialty. The number of visas of this category can’t exceed 40 thousand per year. All unspecified visas from the 1st and 2nd categories are added to this number.
Fourth category Visas of this category are given to priests, workers of religious organizations, persons who served the US Government and some other categories of foreigners. The number of visas of this category can’t exceed 10 thousand per year.
Fifth category Visas of this category are issued to persons who are able to invest from 500 thousand to 3 million US dollars in establishing an enterprise in the US, which will create a certain number of jobs. The minimum number of jobs created due to such investments should be at least 10 per investor. The amount of investment depends on the region in which the investment is carried out. In the event that the investor does not meet one of the requirements established by law, he / she may lose the status of PR of the US. The number of visas of this category can’t exceed 10 thousand per year.

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