Frequently Asked Questions

Common questions about the laws of immigration

What is the difference between an immigrant visa and a nonimmigrant visa?

An immigrant visa allows the person to apply for permanent residency. A nonimmigrant visa allows the person to be in the US for a certain amount of time.

What kind of temporary immigrant (nonimmigrant) visas are there?

There are several types of nonimmigrant visas that allow you to stay in the US for a certain amount of time. Temporary immigrant visas allow immigrants to visit, conduct business, study and some allows you to work in the US.

How do I obtain permanent residence or a green card?

The card known as a green card is evidence of your legal status as a permanent resident. Permanent residency gives you the right to live and work permanently in the US and eventually apply for citizenship.

Permanent residency can be obtained by:

  • Asylum
  • Family members
  • Marrying a citizen

Contact an immigration lawyer to see other ways to immigrate.

How do I obtain residency by family sponsorship?

If you have family members who are US citizens or permanent residents, you may be able to apply for permanent residence by that family member. Also, if you become a citizen or permanent resident, there are options that allow you to bring your family to the US.
The Immigration and Nationality Act provides immigration procedures for spouses, parents, children and siblings. Family visas are divided into several categories, based on immigration preference. The following table provides more detail about the process.
* Relatives of Citizens:
Spouse, parents and children under 21 years of age and unmarried.
The time it takes to receive this is only the time it takes to process the request.
There are no limits to this type of visa
* Family One:
Children of unmarried citizens over 21 years of age
It takes 4 years for most countries (10 years for Mexico, 14 for the Filipinos)
* Family Two:
Spouses, children under 21 and unmarried children over 21 years of permanent residents
It takes approximately 10 years (13 years for Mexico)
* Family Three:
Married children of citizens
It takes approximately 7 years (longer if they are from Mexico)
* Family Four:
Brothers of citizens
It takes approximately 12 years

How do I obtain permanent residency for my job?

If you have an employer who is willing to sponsor you, you may be able to apply for permanent residency. As with family visas, there are several categories of preference but the most common is for skilled workers. To qualify for a skilled worker visa, you need at least two years of experience for the position that the employer wishes to sponsor you for and experience can not be with the employer sponsoring.

Can my church or religious organization sponsor me?

Yes. The religious worker visa or R-1 visa is a nonimmigrant visa to work for a religious organization in the US as a minister or professional of an occupation or religious vocation. The religious organization must apply for the immigrant and must have been in the US for at least two years and be willing to support the immigrant economically.

How do I become a citizen?

In order to become a US citizen you have to file for a process called naturalization. With naturalization, you must have your green card or be a resident of the US for at least five years (with some exceptions). In addition, there must be:

  • Lived in the state in which he currently lives for at least three months
  • Not to have committed a crime
  • Belief in the ideas behind the US Constitution
  • Be of good moral character
  • Be able to read, write and understand basic English.
  • The last requirement is knowledge of US government and history. To prove that, you have to pass an exam.

What is the difference between a citizen and a permanent resident?

A natural citizen is a person born in the United States or a person whose parents were born in the United States. Being a citizen gives the most benefits to a person. Born citizens can not be deported and can vote. Permanent resident status is more like citizenship than other immigration statuses. A resident can not vote and can be deported for a crime, other than that they have the same rights as citizens. A resident may eventually apply for citizenship, through a process called naturalization. Naturalized citizens can vote and may be deported only for serious crimes.

Which temporary visas allow me to work in the US?

Some of the most common visas allowed an immigrant to work in the US are the H, L, and R visas.


The employer applies for a nonimmigrant visa that allows foreign employees in specialized fields to stay for up to six years.
Employers may apply for an H-1B visa if the foreigner has one of the following:
Relevant degree from an American university
Relevant university degree outside the US and three years of experience
Twelve years of relevant high level experience
A relevant state or federal license in your field

The employer applies for a one-year nonimmigrant visa for non-skilled immigrants. To obtain that visa, the employer must obtain a labor certification which requires that the position is announced extensively and check that there are no qualified or available American workers to take the position.
The H-2B visa can be extended in increments of one year up to three years but requires a labor certification with each extension.

The H-3B visa
The H-3B visa is a training visa. Immigrants are granted a nonimmigrant visa for on-the-job training. The visa is good for two years, applies to the fields of agriculture, technology, finance, communications, government and almost any other field excluding medical field. To qualify for the job training visa, the training program must not be available in your home country and you should benefit from pursuing a career and obtaining employment in your home country.

How can I extend my visa?

As most nonimmigrant visas expire, an extension may be possible. Check the rules of your visa to see if the visa allows an extension.
NACARA provides immigration benefits and deportation relief to Nicaraguans, Cubans, Salvadorans, Guatemalans, nationals of the countries of the former Soviet Union and their dependents who have applied for asylum. If relief from NACARA is granted, the individual may be a permanent resident.

What is NAFTA?

The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) provides nonimmigrant work visas to citizens of Mexico and Canada if the occupation is on the NAFTA list. Under this agreement, citizens of these countries may immigrate provided that:
-They meet specifications for the qualified profession
-The position requires someone in this professional capacity
-The employer is an American employer

How do I conduct business in the US?

The B-1 business visa is a five-year nonimmigrant visa for business professionals with permanent residency in another country that allows them to conduct business activities in the US.
To qualify for a B-1 visa, you must:

  • Check your attempt to leave the US at the end of your stay
  • Have enough money so you do not need to work during your time in the US
  • Establish a relevant purpose for your trip to the USA.

How can I study in the US?

Student visas come in two different forms. The first, the F-1 visa, allows for academic training. Individuals who come to the US with an F-1 visa, come for academic studies and / or language training programs. The second, the M-1 visa, is for non-immigrants who want vocational or non-academic training.

The requirements to come to the US with a student visa are:

  • Must be enrolled in an educational program, language training program or vocational training program.
  • Must be enrolled as a full-time student.
  • Must master English or be attending English classes in order to master the language.
  • The school must be approved by the US Citizenship and Immigration Services.
  • You must have sufficient funds to not have to work during your stay in the US.
  • You must maintain foreign residency to ensure you plan to leave the US after school is over.

What is an exchange visitor visa?

Individuals looking to participate in an exchange visitor program must obtain this visa. To qualify for an exchange visitor visa, you have to check that you plan to stay a certain amount of time, have enough money to cover your expenses and have social and economic ties to your homeland.
To participate in the exchange visitor program, your program must be part of a designated sponsoring organization. These programs may include:

  • Au pair
  • Camp Counselor
  • University student
  • High school student
  • Government Visitor
  • Doctor
  • Teacher
  • School of research
  • Short term school
  • Specialist
  • Summer job
  • Teacher
  • Apprentice

What happens to my license if I have a traffic violation?

This will depend on the type of traffic violation and the status of your license before the infringement. For DUI, your license will be suspended immediately unless you request an administrative hearing. You should contact an attorney immediately regarding this. The length of the DUI suspension will depend on your BAC (breathing or blood alcohol content) at the time of the events and whether you have a DUI or certain other infractions in your record.

For most other violations, your license may be suspended on conviction of the violation, but again it depends on the type of violation. You should contact an attorney to review the possible consequences to your license of a conviction of a traffic violation, such as Driving While Suspended you will have on your license.

What happens if I do not have a license when the traffic violation occurred?

If you did not have a license when the traffic violation occurred, you are likely to be charged for not having a license. However, if you do not have a license because you have expired, suspended or revoked, it is an independent charge. In this case, it is important to talk to an attorney about your options. Being convicted without a driver’s license may suspend your ability to obtain a driver’s license.

What if I can not get a driver’s license?

If you can not get a driver’s license, this does not mean that you can continue driving without consequences. If you are convicted of not having a license, then the State of Kansas puts you in the system and suspends your legal ability to obtain a license. If you are found driving during this time, you may be charged with a more serious crime.

It is very important to know the status of your license or even the state of your ability to obtain a license in order to know how a traffic violation can affect it. In addition, there may be other collateral consequences for certain charges such as driving above a certain speed.

How will my DUI affect my immigration status and / or case?

Having a DUI does not necessarily prevent you from having immigration relief. However, it will make any relief you seek much more difficult to obtain. If you are detained by immigration officers, a DUI will affect your chances of receiving bail on immigration, as well as significantly impact any relief, as it would be at the discretion of the Immigration Judge. It is important to examine all of your options if you are charged with a DUI, such as the possibility of entering a diversion program.

What is diversion?

Diversion is a program offered by almost every prosecutor’s office. It is entirely at the discretion of the prosecutor in charge of the case, but a person may be eligible for the diversion, even if charged with a more serious crime. This program is similar to probation and is a contract you would have with the prosecutor’s office. In this agreement, you will generally have to take responsibility for what happened and then abide by certain conditions, such as undergoing drug / alcohol evaluations, drug / alcohol treatment, extra fines, etc. If you are able to comply with all the terms delineated within the agreement, the prosecutor will dismiss the case against you without a conviction. While this may help avoid conviction, the diversion MIGHT have possible consequences with immigration. It is therefore extremely important that you consult with an immigration attorney before entering any diversion program.

I am a permanent resident of the US, How do I bring my fiancé to the country?

K-1 visas or committed visas, allow citizens and permanent residents to bring their committed to the US for the purpose of marriage. After marriage, the spouse can apply for permanent residence. The K-2 visa allows you to bring your children to the US.