PEOPLE that are looking to come and legally stay in the United States to live and work will need a visa to remain in the country. There are many different types of visas available in the United States, which one you need will depend on why you are coming to the U.S.

What is a Visa?

A visa is a permit that enables the holder to lawfully enter a country for specified period of time. When the citizen of a foreign country wants to enter the United States, they must first obtain a visa. The document is often affixed to the person’s passport but can be issued separately. It is important to be clear on the type of visa you apply for. If you come to the U.S. on a student visa for instance but decide to not go to school and work instead, you can be deported. This is often referred to as being “out of status.”

What types of Visas are there?

There a different type of visas, each type is based on the purpose of your coming to the United States. There are two basic types: non-immigrant visas for temporary visits and immigrant visas that enable to holder to live and work permanent in the U.S.

Non-Immigrant Visas

If you were planning on a temporary stay in the U.S., you would need a non-immigrant visa. There are however, certain countries that participate in a visa waiver program with the U.S. If you are from one of these countries, you may be able to visit without a visa if you meet various requirements. The categories of non-immigrant visas are extensive (there are 20) but includes categories such as business, tourist and visitors, exchange visitors, students, and fiancé to marry U.S. citizen.

It is important to apply for your non-immigrant visa as early as possible, as wait times can be long. A good rule of thumb is between 60-120 days before you would like to come to the U.S.

Immigrant Visas

To live and work permanently in the United States, an immigrant visa is required. The major categories of immigrant visas available include immediate relatives, family-sponsored, employer sponsored and special immigrants. In order to be eligible for this type of visa, a U.S. citizen relative, permanent resident, or prospective employer must sponsor you. You must also be the beneficiary of a petition that has been filed and approved by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). The processing times of actually obtaining an immigrant visa number can be extremely long, and requires a multi-step process.

What’s Next?

If you are clear on your purpose for coming to the U.S., and would like to stay temporarily or permanently, the next step is to seek out an immigration lawyer for assistance. Whether you are seeking a temporary, non-immigrant visa or have decided to make the United States your home, U.S. immigration laws are confusing at best. The forms and paperwork involved can be daunting, and the wait times for paperwork processing can be frustrating. Having an experienced lawyer assist you in the process will make your experience much easier, and will prevent you from making common errors that could postpone your visa from being issued.

Contact the Law Offices of James G. Beirne for guidance. Our office has helped thousands of clients gain lawful entry into the U.S., and we can help you too. We provide immigration services including family, fiancé and employment petitions, student and investor visas, visa extensions, naturalization and much more. We will provide you with sound legal advice as well as a free consultation. Contact us today. We have three locations to serve you, Glendale (818) 552-4500, Cerritos (562) 865-4480 and West Covina (626) 262-4446. With your first appointment, you will receive legal guidance and a free consultation, so call today.


An active member of the State Bar of California and the State Bar of Nevada, James G. Beirne is also a member of the highly respected American Immigration Lawyers Association and Los Angeles County Bar Association Immigration Section. He is admitted to practice before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, all federal district courts in California and Nevada, California state courts, and Nevada state courts. Mr. Beirne has represented clients in numerous immigration cases. His offices are located at 520 E. Wilson Ave., Suite 110, Glendale, CA 91206, and 17215 Studebaker Rd., Suite 380, Cerritos, CA 90703, with telephone numbers (818) 552-4500; (562) 865-4480; and (866) 903-4522. He also has offices at 2640 E. Garvey Ave., Suite 104, West Covina 91791, with tel. no. (626) 262-4446.
(Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only. Results may vary depending on the facts of a particular case. We make no prediction, warranty or guarantee about the results of any case, nor do we assume any legal liability for the completeness of any information and its impact on the results of any case. Each case is different and results depend on the facts of each case. Consult with and retain counsel of your own choice if you need legal advice.) â–