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While there are some exceptions for individuals traveling on a short-term basis from certain countries, most foreign nationals looking to enter the United States will need a visa to do so legally. There are literally dozens of specialized visas that U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services makes available to prospective international travelers, and identifying which type you need is just the first step of many in the complex and time-consuming visa application process.

Fortunately, a dedicated Washington DC visa lawyer could offer guidance about what route may be best for you and work hard to make sure the application runs into as few issues as possible. Whether you want to visit as a tourist, come here for work, or immigrate to the U.S. on a permanent basis, assistance from a knowledgeable immigration attorney could be key to keeping your plans on track.

Who Is Eligible for Immigrant Visas?

USCIS only makes immigrant visas available to individuals who meet certain criteria, and often only on a limited annual basis. The two most common ways that foreign nationals qualify for entry into the United States is through a family member who already lives here or a U.S.-based employer who intends to hire them. Family-based immigrant visas are available to the immediate family members of U.S. citizens and individuals with Legal Permanent Resident status, as well as certain extended family members of U.S. citizens.

There is no limit on the number of visas that may be issued to immediate family members of U.S. citizens in a year. However, all other qualified applicants are subject to a “preference order” that may make it more difficult for them to acquire one of the approximately 226,000 family preference visas made available each year. The number of employment-based visas available each year is even smaller at about 140,000. These visas are also subject to a preference system that prioritizes highly qualified workers and high-level employees of multinational companies.

However, it may be possible for certain individuals to qualify for immigrant visas through other means, like declaration of asylum or refugee status, or participation in the Diversity Visa lottery. A Washington DC attorney could determine what type of visa may be the most effective route to immigration.

Applying for a Nonimmigrant Visa

Provided that they meet certain procedural requirements and maintain approval for travel through the Electronic System for Travel Authorization, individuals coming from countries that participate in the Visa Waiver Program are not required to obtain nonimmigrant visas for trips to the United States lasting less than 90 days. Citizens and nationals from other countries, as well as individuals from VWP countries intending to study or work here on a short-term basis, will need to apply for a visa.

There are numerous nonimmigrant categories that are meant for specific types of visitors. For example, most tourists and vacationers would need a B-2 visa, students intending to participate in Study Abroad programs may need F or M visas, and temporary seasonal workers may need a H-2A or H-2B visa depending on the specific nature of the work they will perform. Guidance from a lawyer in Washington DC could be virtually essential to progressing through the application process smoothly and acquiring the correct visa for a particular set of circumstances.

Speak with a Washington DC Visa Attorney Today

Applying for any type of visa requires submitting a variety of forms and documents to USCIS, and potentially participation in biometrics screening and an interview. Getting through these procedures without any issues can be hard for anyone to accomplish, especially if they try to do it without professional guidance.

A seasoned Washington DC visa lawyer could be an important ally to have by your side. Get in touch today to learn more.

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