If you are a foreign national hoping to come to the U.S., chances are you will need a visa to enter legally. If you are already living in the United States without legal status, obtaining a visa can be very difficult. If obtaining a visa in the United States offers new hope and opportunities for you, we will do everything in our power to ensure you get started on the right footing. Walker Gates Vela has helped hundreds of clients obtain visas abroad or legalize status in the United States, with nonstop guidance along the way.
What is the difference between a Green Card and a visa?
A green card is also called an “immigrant visa.” In addition, green card holders are known as lawful permanent residents (LPR). Having LPR status or a “green card” means you are allowed to remain in the United States indefinitely to work and live with your family. As long as you do not break the law or abandon your status, you can remain in the United States. A non-immigrant visa (NIV), however, only allows you to stay in the United States temporarily. NIVs do not provide permanent residency, though some allow for change to permanent resident status when certain conditions are met. If you plan to stay in the United States for a short time, you will most likely need a non-immigrant visa. However, if you are working toward permanent residency, you will need to carefully consider what type of visas will allow you to do this.
How to get a visa to come to the U.S.
A number of visas are issued by the USCIS each year to allow foreign nationals to enter and live in the United States. You can be issued a visa depending on your circumstances for a variety of reasons.
Nonimmigrant visas: If you need to get out of your country quickly or only need to stay in the U.S. for a limited time period, you may wish to apply for a nonimmigrant visa. Types of nonimmigrant visas available include:
- Vacation Visa
- Student Visa
- Employment Visa
- Business Visa
At Walker Gates Vela, PLLC we help a large number of men and women obtain Visas for Victims of Crime, Trafficking, and Domestic Violence. These are known as:
These visas are available to individuals already living in the United States. They allow the applicant to request waivers for many different types of legal and immigration-related violations, and they allow the applicant to seek permanent resident status after three years of having the visa.
If you are planning on staying in the United States permanently, you may wish to apply for an immigrant visa. The immigrant visa is the same thing as permanent residency, or a green card. Immigrant visas are usually filed in the following categories:
- Family-Based Visas – if you have relatives – including parents, a spouse, or a sibling – living in the US, they may be able to sponsor you for a family-based visa.
- Fiancée Visas – if you are marrying a U.S. citizen or permanent resident, he/she can sponsor your visa.
- Employment visa – your U.S. employer can sponsor you for a work visa.
Getting a Green Card after a non-immigrant visa
If you have obtained a non-immigrant visa, your next step might be applying for an immigrant visa or adjustment of status to lawful permanent residence (a.k.a. “getting a green card”). Your family or employer might be able to petition for you, or you may be able to receive a green card based on refugee or asylum status, or your status as a cooperative victim of crime.
Walker Gates Vela can help with your visa application
The Austin immigration lawyers at Walker Gates Vela assist clients with both immigrant and non-immigrant visas. For an initial consultation, contact our firm today by calling our Austin office at (512) 633-1785.