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Jobs, Family, and the American Way – Secrets to Moving to the USA Visa-Free at Any Age

Moving to the United States is a dream for many across the globe. With its strong economy, abundance of opportunities, and high salaries, America continues to be an attractive destination for immigrants looking to build a better life.

However, immigrating legally to the US can be an arduous process due to the complex visa system and long wait times. This article will provide a comprehensive guide on the easiest pathways to legally immigrate, work, and bring your family to America.

Family-Sponsored Immigrant Visas

Jobs, Family, and the American Way – Secrets to Moving to the USA Visa-Free at Any Age.

One of the most common ways to immigrate to the US is through family reunification. US citizens and green card holders can sponsor certain family members for green cards.There are two main family visa categories:

Immediate Relatives: Includes spouses, unmarried children under 21 years, and parents of adult US citizens. There are no annual limits on the number of visas available.

Family Preference Visas: Includes adult married/unmarried children, siblings, and spouses/children of green card holders. There are annual limits ranging from 226,000 to 480,000 depending on the family relationship.

The main advantage of family-sponsored green cards is that you do not need an employer sponsor, making them more readily accessible. The downside is long wait times, ranging from 1-2 years for immediate relatives up to 10-20 years for siblings from countries like India, China, Mexico or the Philippines.Nursing Abroad scholarships netherlands

Step-by-Step Process for Family Green Cards

If you have a qualifying family member who is a US citizen or green card holder, here is an overview of the process:

  1. Your relative submits an I-130 petition: This establishes your family relationship so you can get in the visa line.
  2. Wait for visa availability: You get a “priority date” when the I-130 is submitted. Depending on your country and relationship, you may have to wait years for a visa to become available.
  3. Submit visa application: Once your priority date is current, submit DS-260 immigrant visa application to the National Visa Center.
  4. Consular interview: Attend an interview at the US embassy/consulate in your home country. Medical exam and other supporting documents required.
  5. Enter US as permanent resident: Upon approval you’ll receive your green card in the mail. You can then legally reside and work in the USA.

The entire process can take anywhere from 1 year to over 15 years depending on your relationship, country of birth, and visa backlogs.

Hiring an experienced immigration attorney can help expedite the process.

Employment-Based Immigrant Visas

Besides family reunification, the other main pathway to US permanent residency is through employment. Every year 140,000 employment-based green cards are issued to foreign nationals with exceptional abilities, advanced degrees, or specific skills.

There are five employment-based visa preferences:

  1. Priority Workers: For foreign nationals of extraordinary ability (achieved national/international acclaim) or outstanding researchers/professors. No employer sponsor required.
  2. Advanced Degree Holders or Exceptional Ability: Includes foreign workers with advanced degrees or exceptional abilities in science/arts/business.
  3. Skilled Workers and Professionals: For foreign nationals with bachelor’s degree or higher. Includes teachers, engineers, scientists, accountants, lawyers, doctors, and hi-tech workers.
  4. Special Immigrants: For religious workers, certain employees of US government abroad, etc.
  5. Investors: For entrepreneurs investing $1 million (or $500k in rural/high unemployment areas) in a new commercial enterprise that creates at least 10 full-time jobs.

The biggest advantage of employment green cards is that they allow you to immigrate based on your skills and education, without needing family sponsors. However, most categories require substantial documentation and employer sponsorship.

But for highly skilled professionals, especially in STEM fields, employment green cards provide the fastest pathway to work permanently in the USA. The process typically ranges from 1-2 years.

Step-by-Step Process for Employment Green Cards

Here is an overview of the typical employment-based green card process:

  1. Employer sponsorship: Employer files labor certification and I-140 visa petition on your behalf.
  2. Submit green card application: If already residing in the US, file I-485 to adjust status to permanent resident. If abroad, go through consular processing.
  3. EAD/AP Combo Card: Apply for EAD/AP combo card for interim work/travel authorization while I-485 is pending.
  4. Interview: Attend biometrics and interview appointment if required.
  5. Green card approval: Receive welcome notice and physical green card in the mail. Enjoy living and working permanently in the USA.

The processing time ranges from 1 year to 3 years depending on your country, visa category, and USCIS processing backlogs.

Nonimmigrant Work Visas

If immigrating permanently to the US seems daunting or unrealistic, nonimmigrant temporary work visas provide an easier avenue to work legally in America short-term.Some popular work visa types include:

  • H-1B: For foreign professionals in specialty occupations like IT, engineering, medicine, academics, etc. Valid for up to 6 years.
  • L-1: For intracompany transfers of executives, managers or workers with specialized knowledge. Valid for up to 7 years.
  • O-1: For foreign nationals of extraordinary achievement/ability in arts, science, education, business, or athletics. Valid for up to 3 years.
  • TN: For Canadian and Mexican professionals under NAFTA. Renewable indefinitely.
  • J-1: For a wide range of temporary work including summer work travel, au pairs, interns, physicians, academics, etc.Nursing Abroad images 3

The biggest advantages of these visas are short processing times and no need for employer PERM labor certification. Many jobs already come with visa sponsorship since employers need to prove no qualified US workers are available.The cons are that they do not directly lead to permanent residency. But they are fantastic alternatives to gain US work experience, earn a good salary, and get your foot in the door for an employment green card later on.

Finding Jobs Offering Visa Sponsorship

If you’re looking for US jobs that provide visa sponsorship, here are some tips:

  • Check company career pages for statements like “visa sponsorship available” or “H-1B transfers welcome”.
  • Search job boards like LinkedInIndeedGlassdoorZipRecruiter using keywords like “visa sponsorship”.
  • Utilize professional networks to connect with recruiters open to visa candidates.
  • Consider larger companies and technology/engineering firms that have dedicated immigration teams and routinely hire abroad.

Some top companies known for visa sponsorships include Amazon, Google, Microsoft, Intel, Apple, Facebook, Oracle, IBM, Qualcomm, Cisco, Tesla, Twitter, Uber, Airbnb, etc.

Bringing Your Family on Nonimmigrant and Immigrant Visas

Whether you secure an H-1B visa or an employment-based green card, a common question is whether you can bring your family members along.

Luckily both nonimmigrant and immigrant visas allow you to bring your spouse and unmarried children under 21 years on dependent visas.

For Nonimmigrant Visas

If you get an H-1B, L-1, O-1 or other temporary work visa, your spouse and kids can accompany you on H-4, L-2 or O-3 dependent visas respectively.

Dependent spouses on H-4 or L-2 visas can also obtain Employment Authorization Documents (EAD) to work legally in the USA, thanks to recent policy changes. And dependent children on nonimmigrant visas can enroll in US schools and colleges. So with temporary work visas, you can still bring and support your nuclear family in America short-term.

Cost of Immigrating to the USA

A common concern is the high cost associated with obtaining US work authorization and permanent residency. Here is an overview:

Nonimmigrant Visa Costs

For temporary work visas like H-1B and L-1, employers typically cover all legal and filing fees. So workers incur very little out-of-pocket cost besides routine visa application expenses.Costs for a typical H-1B visa include:

  • H-1B Visa Fee: $460
  • Fraud Prevention and Detection Fee: $500
  • ACWIA Fee (for H-1B dependent employers only): $1500
  • Premium Processing (optional): $2500
  • Dependent Visas: Around $370 per family member

So in total expect to incur $1000-4000 in fees if you’re the main visa holder. Employers cover the remaining legal costs.

Immigrant Visa Costs

For employment-based and family-sponsored green cards, you must cover most expenses out-of-pocket, which can total $3000-$5000 including:

  • I-140 Legal Fees: $2000 attorney fees
  • I-485 Application: $1140 USCIS filing fee
  • Biometrics Fee: $85 per person
  • Medical Exam: $200-300 per person
  • Interview Travel: $500+ for airfare, hotel, etc
  • Green Card Production: $220 per person

Costs are higher if you opt for premium processing or need to file additional documents like affidavits of support. While the costs may seem high paying upfront, it is well worth it in the long run to obtain lifetime permanent residency and high-paying US employment. Many employers also provide relocation/immigration allowances to offset some costs.Nursing Abroad TSI Classroom Boy and Girl 04 1560x560 1

Path to US Citizenship

Finally, once you obtain your employment-based or family-sponsored green card, you must wait a few years before applying for US citizenship.

Here are the main requirements:

  • Permanent Resident: Must hold unexpired green card for at least 5 continuous years (or 3 years if married to a US citizen).
  • Physical Presence: Must have lived within the United States for at least 30 months out of the previous 60 months.
  • Good Moral Character: Requires good moral character and no history of certain crimes.
  • English & Civics: Must pass English and civics tests (exemptions available for elderly/disabled).
  • Oath Ceremony: Take oath of allegiance to the United States.

After naturalizing you gain extensive rights including the ability to vote, obtain a US passport, sponsor foreign relatives for green cards, and more. So in summary, the road to US citizenship typically takes 7-10 years from start to finish. But permanent residency provides most privileges of citizenship, besides voting rights and the full security of no longer facing deportation.

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