Travlang Travel Guide

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Traveling to America: The Low Down on How to Legally Enter the States


As you might expect, legally getting into the United States can be a strenuous process. After all, America doesn’t let just anyone enter its geographical confines. You have to have the right credentials.

Are you traveling to America soon? Wondering what kinds of credentials are needed in order to enter the country? Here are some options available to you.

Apply for a Work Visa

If you’re coming to the United States to work, you need to apply for a work visa. This will enable you to work for an American employer, and — if you have the resources necessary — will even allow you to start your own business in the United States.

There are no shortage of work visas available for foreigners to pursue, each of which carries a different distinction. The most successfully obtained work visa is the h1b, a visa which requires an American employer to sponsor a foreign employee.

If you have a sponsor, you can begin applying for this visa at the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services website. If obtained, it will grant you temporary access to the United States.

Apply for a Student Visa

Hoping to attend school in the United States? If so, you will need a student visa. A student visa will allow you to stay in the United States for the duration of your schooling, and will also allow you to stay for 2 months after your schooling has ended.

During the time after your schooling has ended, you will be allowed to sign up for an h1b visa, effectively extending your stay. This will enable you to work in the country. If you wish, you could also use this time to try to pursue American citizenship.

If you’re looking to obtain a student visa, you should know that there is quite a bit involved in the process. For instance, those between the ages of 14 and 79 will need to be interviewed about their educational careers. You’ll also be required to present school transcripts, diplomas, and other such documents.

Note, you can’t attend school in the US without a student visa. It is a requirement for all foreign students.

Apply for a Family-Based Immigration Visa

If you have relatives who are American citizens, you might consider pursuing a family-based immigration visa. There are a number of different family-based immigration visas that you can pursue, each of which accommodates a different type of relationship.

The easiest way to gain familial access to the US is to marry an American citizen. Doing so will grant you immediate access.

However, there are other options available. For instance, Immediate Relative Immigrant Visas allow American citizens to bring their offspring and parents into the country. This accounts for immediate offspring under the 21, adopted children, and parents over the age of 21.

Another option is the Family Preference Immigrant Visa, a visa which allows families to bring distant relatives into the United States. Make note, however, that the US government issues a limited amount of these on a yearly basis.

Apply for an Investor’s Visa

Do you have hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of business capital on your side? If so, you can apply for an investor’s visa. An investor’s visa grants access to those who help the US economy to thrive.

Qualifications for this visa are very straightforward. First, you must invest at least $500,000 in an American company, whether it be another person’s company or your own. Second, your contribution must create at least 5 American jobs.

If you can show that you’ve done this, you will be granted almost immediate access. As they say: money talks.

Enter the Visa Lottery

The United States makes efforts to create as diverse a country as possible. One of these efforts is the Visa Lottery, a lottery which randomly awards visas to residents of countries which don’t often immigrate to the US. If you live in one of these countries, you can sign up.

There are quite a few countries which are eligible for this lottery, including but not limited to Albania, Israel, the Bahamas, and Argentina. See a full list of eligible countries here.

Take Advantage of the Visa Waiver Program

Not every foreign citizen requires a visa in order to enter the United States. Citizens in some countries are eligible for the Visa Waiver Program. This program allows such citizens to enter the country with a passport alone after having obtained a travel authorization from the Electronic System for Travel Authorization or ESTA.

There are almost 40 countries eligible for this program, including Great Britain, Australia, Japan, France, Greece, and Germany, to name just a few. Here’s a full list for you to peruse. If your country is on the list, you’re eligible for the program.

The Waiver Program allows you to stay in the country for 90 days or less, whether it be for tourism or business. If you’re a resident of an eligible country, it should be your first course of action for gaining credentials into the United States.

Seek Asylum

Your last option is to seek asylum. Asylum is granted to those who are being persecuted in their home countries for reasons of race, sexuality, religion, political opinion, or nationality. In essence, it’s granted to remove human beings from bad or dangerous situations.

To obtain asylum, you must first be physically present in the United States. It doesn’t matter how you get there. Both legally present and illegally present immigrants are eligible for asylum, though not all are granted it.

If your situation is a truly dire one, you will likely be allowed to stay in the United States. However, this isn’t always the case.

Traveling to America Soon?

Are you planning on traveling to America soon? If so, you should first see if you’re eligible for the Visa Waiver Program. If you’re not, a work visa is likely your best bet.

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