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Family & Individual Immigration

Spouse, parent, and unmarried children (under 21 years of age) of U.S. citizen (IR)

Unmarried son and daughter (21 years of age and older) of U.S. citizen (F1)

Spouse and children (unmarried and under 21 years of age) of green card holder (F2A)

Unmarried son and daughter (21 years of age and older) of green card holder (F2B)

Married son and daughter of U.S. citizen (F3)

Brother and sister of U.S. citizen (if U.S. citizen is 21 years of age and older) (F4)

Fiance(e) of a U.S. citizen or the fiance(e)'s child K-1 visa for the fiance(e) and K-2 for dependent children

Widow(er) of a U.S. citizen

Victim of battery or extreme cruelty by a U.S. citizen to spouse, children, or parent under the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) as amended by the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA)

Victim of battery or extreme cruelty by a green card holder to spouse or children under VAWA

Human trafficking victim (currently in T Visa status) Victims who assist police in human trafficking cases

Crime victim (currently in U Visa status) Victims of certain crimes who have suffered substantial physical or mental abuse and helpful to the investigation or prosecution of the criminal activity.

Asylee After physically present in the U.S. for at least one year since being granted asylum

Refugee After physically present in the U.S. for at least one year

Registry Eligible if resided continuously in the U.S. since before January 1, 1972

Diversity Immigrant Visa Program lottery winners

Person born in the U.S. to a foreign diplomat whose title is ambassador, minister, charges d'affaires, counselor, secretaries and attaches of embassies and legations, member of the Delegation of the Commission of the European Communities, or other accredited title listed in the State Department Diplomatic List (Blue List)

Section 13 (diplomat) Entered the U.S. as an A-1, A-2, G-1, or G-2 visa holder and failed to maintain such status

Cuban Adjustment Act of 1966 A native of or citizen of Cuba that has been physically present in the U.S. for at least one year after inspection and admission or parole into the U.S. after January 1, 1959

American Indian born in Canada Eligible if 50% or more American Indian race and seeking to enter the U.S. to reside permanently

Change of Status, Extension of Status

Change to Another Nonimmigrant Status If plans change, you may change your nonimmigrant status to a different one. You cannot change to another nonimmigrant status if you entered in any of the following nonimmigrant categories - C, D, K-1, K-2, K-3, K-4, S, TWOV, WT, or WB. If you entered as a J-1 or M-1, you will have restrictions in the ability to change nonimmigrant status.

Extension of Nonimmigrant Status If you need to remain in the U.S. longer than originally planned you can request an extension of the authorized period of stay noted on the Form I-94 or the admission stamp in your travel document. You are not eligible for extension if you entered the U.S. in the following nonimmigrant categories - C, D, K-1, K-2, S, TWOV, WT, or WB.

E-1 Visa for Treaty Traders & E-2 Visa for Treaty Investors

E-1 visa allows the trader or the trader's employee to conduct substantial trade in goods or services, mainly between the United States and their country of citizenship or nationality. The initial period of stay is up to two years. There is no limit to the number of extensions, but the E-1 holder must intend to depart the United States when their status expires or is terminated. Spouse and dependent children are allowed to accompany the treaty trader. The spouse of the E-1 holder may apply for work permit.

E-2 visa allows the investor or the investor's employee to invest or actively be in the process of investing a substantial amount of capital in an enterprise and to develop and direct the investment enterprise. The initial period of stay is up to two years. There is no limit to the number of extensions, but the E-2 holder must intend to depart the United States when their status expires or is terminated. Spouse and dependent children are allowed to accompany the treaty trader. The spouse of the E-2 holder may apply for work permit.

E-1 and E-2 visas require a treaty of commerce and navigation to exist between the United States and the holder's country.

H-1B and Other H Visas

H-1B Visa is for "specialty occupation" workers, Department of Defense cooperative research and development project workers, and fashion models. H-1B holder can have the intent to remain permanently in the U.S.

Specialty occupations normally require bachelor's degree or higher in a specific specialty (or its equivalent).

Fashion models must establish distinguished merit and ability.

The initial period of stay is up to three years with subsequent renewals up to six years. One-year extensions beyond the sixth year available for individuals in the process of obtaining a green card. The H-1B worker is allowed to pursue a green card while in H-1B status. There are H-1B equivalent visas for certain nations, such as the E-3 for Australia and the H-1B1 for Chile and Singapore.

H-2B Visa is for workers needed temporarily because here is not enough U.S. workers who are able, willing, qualified, and available to do the temporary work. The H-2B worker can stay in the United States for up to three years.

H-3 Visa for individual coming to the U.S. as a trainee or special education exchange visitor. The trainee is provided job-related training that will be performed outside the U.S. and the proposed training is not available in the individual's home nation. A special education exchange visitor must be petitioned by a facility with professionally trained staff and program that provides education to children with disabilities and training and hands-on experience to trainees.

H-4 Visa is for the spouse and dependent children of the H-1B, H-2B, and H-3 visa holders In H-1B cases, the H-4 spouse may be eligible for work permit if the H-1B spouse has an approved Form I-140 or granted an extension beyond the sixth year (already started the process of seeking a green card through employment).

L-1 Visas

L-1 visas are for executives, managers, or specialized knowledge employee, coming to the United States to work in the office affiliated with the foreign office. The visa allows the foreign office to send a qualified employee to the United States to establish one. Qualified employee entering the United States to establish a new office is allowed an initial one year. All other qualified employees are allowed an initial maximum of three years. Extension of stay can be granted at two year increments, until the maximum limit of seven years is reached for those in L-1A status, and a maximum limit of five years is reached for those in L-1B status. L-1A is for executives and managers. L-1B is for specialized knowledge workers. L-1 holder can have the intent to remain permanently in the U.S.

Spouse and dependent children can accompany or follow to join the L-1 holder as L-2 visa holders. The spouse of the L-1 worker may apply for a work permit.

O Visas

The O-1 visa is for the individual with extraordinary achieivement in motion picture or television (and recongized for those achievements, internationally or nationally) or the individual with extraordinary ability in business, athletics, art, science, or education.

O-1A visa is for those with extraordinary ability in business, athletics, science, or education.

O-1B visa is for those with extraordinary ability or extraordinary achieivement in the arts, motion pictures or television.

O-2 visa is for those that will accompany an O-1 artist or athlete to assist in a specific event or performance.

O-3 visa for the spouse or dependent children of the O-1A, O-1B, or O-2 holders. No work permit given but can attend school.

The initial period of stay is up to three years. Extension of stay is given in increments, up to one year, in order to accomplish the initial event or activity.

Employment & Investment Based Green Cards

For certain qualified individuals, NO job offer or Department of Labor certification (PERM) is required to petition for a green card (i.e., self-petition allowed).

EB-1A for extraordinary ability in business, arts, athletics, sciences, or education The extraordinary ability must be through sustained national or international acclaim.

EB-2 National Interest Waiver (NIW) This can apply to an individual starting a business in America or a physician that agrees to work in a designated underserved area for five years. The beneficiary is requesting the labor certification be waived because it is in the interest of the United States.

EB-5 for employment creation The visa requires capital investment, as of 2020, of either $900,000* or $1,800,000* in a new commercial enterprise in the United States that results in creation or preservation of 10 full-time jobs for qualified U.S. workers. "Capital" means cash, equipment, inventory, tangible property, cash equivalents, and indebtedness secured by assets owned by the investor, if they are personally and primarily liable and the assets of the new commercial enterprise is not used to secure any of the indebtedness. The investor must establish she is the legal owner of the capital invested and the capital was acquired by lawful means. [* Minimum investment amount will adjust to inflation every 5 years.]

The following requires full-time job offer but no PERM certification.

EB-1B for outstanding researchers and professors The beneficiary must demonstrate international recognition for the outstanding achievements in an academic field, along with 3 years experience in teaching or research in that academic field. The beneficiary must pursue tenure or tenure track teaching or a comparable research position at a university, institution of higher education, or private employer. Private employers must show documented accomplishments and at least 3 full-time researchers.

EB-1C for certain multinational executives and managers The beneficiary must have been employed outside the U.S. for at least 1 year in the 3 years before the petition or the most recent lawful nonimmigrant admission if beneficiary already working for the U.S. petitioning employer. The U.S. petitioning employer must have been doing business for at least 1 year, with a qualifying relationship to the entity outside the U.S. where beneficiary worked, and the U.S. petitioning employer will employ the beneficiary as a manager or executive.

The following requires a full-time job offer and PERM certification.

EB-2 for members of the professions holding advanced degrees U.S. advanced degree or a foreign degree equivalent or baccalaureate's degree (or a foreign degree equivalent) plus five years of post-baccalaureate, progressive work experience in the field.

EB-2 for exceptional ability in business, arts, or sciences "Exceptional ability" means a degree of expertise significantly above that ordinarily encountered.

EB-3 for professionals, skilled workers, or other workers

"Professionals" are persons whose job requires at least a U.S. baccalaureate or foreign equivalent degree and are a member of the professions.

"Skilled workers" are persons whose jobs require a minimum of 2 years training or experience, not of a temporary or seasonal nature. The skilled worker must meet the educational, training, or experience requirements of the job opportunity. Relevant post-secondary education may be considered as training.

"Other workers" are persons peforming unskilled labor requiring less than 2 years training, education, or experience, not of a temporary or seasonal nature.

Green Card as a Special Immigrant

Reglious Worker (Minister) Must be a member of non-profit religious denomination and working continuously as religious minister for at least two years before filing green card application and will continue to work as a minister.

Special Immigrant Juvenile Certain children who have been subject to state juvenile court proceedings because they were abused, neglected, abandoned, or other similar grounds under state law and have SIJ status.

International Broadcaster Individuals coming to the United States as a braodcaster for United States Agency for Global Media or for a grantee of the USAGM. Individual may be a reporter, writer, translator, editor, producer announcer, news broadcast host, news analysis, editorial and braodcasting features or news analysis specialist. The individual cannot be performing purely technical or support sevices or working in the entertainment field.

Long-term Employees of Recognized International Organizations The individual can be a retired officer/employee, a surviving spouse of such officer/employee, or the unmarried son or daughter of a currrent/former officer or employee (apply for visa or green card by the 25th birthday).

Afghanistan or Iraq National Afghan or Iraqi transaltor for U.S. government, or employed by or for the U.S. government in Iraq for at least one year on or after March 20, 2003, or an Afghan employed by International Security Assistance Force (ISAF).

P Visa

P-1A Visa for internationally recognized individual athlete, internationally recognized athletic teams, professional athletes employed as a team member, amateur athletes or coaches as part of a team located in the U.S. and a member of a foreign league/association, or professional or amateur theatrical ice skaters to perform individually or as part of a group.

P-1B Visa for a member of an internationally recognized entertainment group (not as an individual entertainer).

P-2 Visa for an artist or entertainer (individually or as part of a group) who will perform under a reciprocal exchange program recognized by the U.S. government.

P-3 Visa for individual or group to come to the U.S. to develop, interpret, represent, coach, or teach a unique or traditional performance or presentation that will further the understanding or development of the art form.

P-4 Visa for the spouse and unmarried children under the age of 21 of the P-1, P-2, or P-3 visa holder. Family may attend school but not work.

TN NAFTA Professionals

TN visa permits qualified Canadian and Mexican citizens to temporarily enter the U.S. to engage in a recognized profession in a position requiring a NAFTA professional that is on a full-time or part-time basis with a U.S. employer. Canadian citizens may obtain TN visa at the time of admission into the U.S. by presenting required documents. Mexican citizens apply for the TN visa at the U.S. embassy or consulate in Mexico.

TD visa is for the spouse and unmarried children under the age of 21 of the TN holder. No work permitted but may attend school.

Foreign Media Representative

I visa for a reporter, film crew, editor, and other similar occupations on behalf of a foreign press, radio, film, or other foreign information media.

I visa also for the spouse and unmarried children under the age of 21 for the principal I visa holder. No work permit but allowed to attend school.

Students (Academic and Training)

F-1 visa for academic students

Practical training A F-1 visa holder has the option of training in the U.S. during the academic program or after it ends. There are two types, curricular practical training (CPT) and optional practical training (OPT).

CPT must be integral to the major and the experience must be a part of the study program. If full-time CPT accumlates to 12 months or more, then OPT is no longr an option. CPT can be part-time. Graduate level study program allows CPT in the first semester of the program if the program requires CPT. The school's DSO must approve the CPT and employer must provide necessary documentation.

OPT must relate to the major. You are allowed 12 months of OPT at each education level (for example, 12 months at bachelor's degree level and 12 months at the master's degree level). The DSO must recommend OPT and USCIS must issue work authorization before OPT can start. During school, OPT must not exceed 20 hours per week.

24-Month STEM OPT Extension The F-1 with a science, tehonology, engineering or mathematics (STEM) degree from an accredited SEVP-certified college or university may qualify for an additional 24 months of OPT.

F-2 visa for the spouse and children of the F-1 student

F-3 visa for academic commuter student from Canada or Mexico

M-1 visa for vocational (training) students

Practical training for M-1 student must be after the program completion that is directly related to the program of study and USCIS must give authorization before starting. For every four months the M-1 student is enrolled, the student earns one month of training eligibility.

M-2 visa for the spouse and children of the M-1 student

M-3 visa for the vocational commuter student from Canada or Mexico

Exchange Visitors

J-1 visas can be for professors, scholars, research assisants, students, trainees, teachers, specialists, au pairs, camp counselors, and others coming to the U.S. to participate in an approved exchange visitor program to teach, instruct, lecture, study, observe, research, consult, demonstrate a special skill, receive training, or receive graduate medical education/training. The U.S. Department of State plays a crucial role in administering the J-1 exchange visitor program.

J-2 visa for the spouse and unmarried children under 21 years of age of the J-1 holder. Spouse and children are entitled to work permits but their income cannot support the J-1.

J-1 Waiver of 2-Year Foreign Residency Requirement A waiver may be granted on one of the five bases.

  1. No objection statement from the home nation's government (medical physicians cannot use this option).

  2. Request of a waiver by a U.S. federal government agency.

  3. Persecution based on race, religion, or political opinion.

  4. Exceptional hardship to a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident spouse or child.

  5. Request of a waiver by designated state public health department (Conrad State 30 Program).

Temporary Visitor for Business or Tourism

B-1 visa to conduct a legitimate business activity of a commercial or professional nature for a specific limited time period.

B-2 visa (tourism) for the spouse and children of the B-1 holder.

Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA)

DACA renewal application must be filed between 150 and 120 days before it expires. Currently, the Trump administration is not accepting first-time DACA applications.

Citizenship and Naturalization

U.S. citizenship through naturalization If you are born outside the U.S., naturalization is the way to become a U.S. citizen at birth or after birth.

Citizenship through your U.S. citizen parent(s) If you are born outside the U.S. to a U.S. citizen parent, the parent conveys citizenship to you at birth or after birth before turning 18.

Naturalization for U.S. military members and their families The law waives the filing fee and provides expedited and overseas processing.

Preserving residence for naturalization The law allows one to preserve residence if leaving the U.S. for more than 1 year because of qualifying employment.

Writ of Mandamus

Writ of Mandamus A lawsuit against the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) asking a federal court to force the USCIS to make a decision on an immigration matter.

Form I-9 Inspection

Employers may have to verify all of their workers are legally allowed to work in the U.S. Every employer has to submit a properly filled out Employment Eligibility Verification Form I-9 (Form I-9) for every new worker hired within a specified period of time. Federal agents can inspect these Form I-9 for accuracy and timeliness usually after issuing the employer a written Notice of Inspection three business days before the request to produce the Form I-9s. The employer may correct procedural and technical violations on the Form I-9s within ten business days. Uncorrected violations can lead to monetary fines and in some cases criminal prosecutions and also be denied participation in federal contracts and other federal benefits. Ally Law can assist with immigration law compliance and representation in Form I-9 inspections.