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Are you thinking about moving to the United States and studying there, or do you just want to understand how US visas work? You’re in the right place. The US visa system can be complex and overwhelming, but knowing which ones are available and how to apply can make all the difference.

This guide will explain the different visa types, the application process, and what you need to qualify for. You’ll also learn about common misconceptions, recent policy changes, and their impact on applicants. Keep reading to get all the details you need.

Understanding Immigrant Visa Categories

Understanding immigrant visa types is crucial. Each type serves a different purpose and has varying requirements. Here’s a breakdown of the main categories:

Family-Based Visas

Family-based visas allow close relatives of US citizens and permanent residents to move to the US. The sponsoring family member must meet financial criteria to support the applicant. Immediate relatives (spouses, parents, and unmarried children under 21) have no annual limits. Other family members, like siblings, face yearly caps.

The process starts with the sponsor filing Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative. After approval, the applicant must go through consular processing or adjust status if they’re already in the US.

Misconception: You don’t need a high income yourself; your sponsor’s financial status is what matters.

Employment-Based Visas

Employment-based visas are for those with job offers in the US. An employer must sponsor the applicant, and the job must qualify under specific categories. The employer must get a labor certification from the Department of Labor, proving there are no qualified US workers for the job. The employer then files Form I-140, Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker.

Categories include EB-1 for priority workers, EB-2 for professionals with advanced degrees, and EB-3 for skilled workers. Each category has specific qualifications and annual limits.

Misconception: Not all jobs qualify, and self-sponsorship isn’t an option.

Diversity Visa Lottery

The Diversity Visa Lottery selects people from countries with low immigration rates to the US. This category’s US visa eligibility criteria meet basic education or work experience requirements. Only individuals from eligible countries can apply. Countries with high immigration rates to the US aren’t eligible.

Entry is through an online registration on the official Diversity Visa website, and selected applicants must complete Form DS-260 and attend a consular interview.

Misconception: Winning the lottery doesn’t guarantee entry; you must still meet all other criteria.

Special Immigrant Visas

Special Immigrant Visas are available for specific groups, such as military translators or religious workers. Each group has unique requirements. For instance, translators need proof of employment with the US government, while religious workers must show two years of membership in a religious denomination.

Generally, this visa application process involves submitting a petition (like Form I-360), followed by consular processing or adjustment of status.

Misconception: These visas aren’t available to everyone.

Recent Policy Changes and Their Impact

Recent changes in immigration policies can affect your visa application process. USCIS updated guidance for family-based immigrant visas, including how to handle Form I-130 and Form I-360. Petitioners must provide accurate information about the beneficiary’s address and processing preferences to avoid delays. If there’s any confusion about consular processing or adjustment of status, USCIS will decide based on the evidence provided.

Additionally, the US has introduced more demanding eligibility criteria for various visa types. For example, international students must now prove they have enough funds for their entire course duration before applying. This ensures financial preparedness but poses challenges for some applicants.

Apply to Your Visa with The Presti Law Firm

Staying informed about US visas and the application process is crucial. It can be stressful not knowing if your application will be successful. At The Presti Law Firm, we understand your concerns and can guide you through every step.

Don’t let confusion derail your plans. With us, you’ll get professional advice and dedicated support. We’ll help you navigate the complexities of the application process and increase your chances of making yours one of the visa success stories. Ready to take the next step?