US emigration


US emigration usually refers to the relocation of persons to the United States of America out of another country. US emigration is different to studying abroad or visiting because it indicates a permanent move.

What visa should I apply for?

Emigration to the US can be acquired through various different types of visas, more than you would probably expect.

  • If you wish to secure a US visa for a short period then you will need to apply for a B1 business visa or submit a B2 travel visa application
  • If you wish to enter the country for a longer period then you will need to apply for a L1 visa or H1-B visa
  • If you would like to open your own American business then you need to obtain either an E1 or E2 visa. Both have a maximum validity period of 5 years and also offer the holder an opportunity to pursue a US Green Card

Green cards

The most complicated part of emigrating to America is securing permanent legal status. The US immigration authorities (formally the Immigration and Naturalization Services, or INS) have increasingly strict regulations regarding the issue of permanent work visas, more commonly known as ‘green cards’.

Those wishing to live in the USA on a permanent basis will need to apply for a green card. You can emigrate to America by applying for a Green Card through specific categories of family connections such as a sibling, parent or spouse or through the annual lottery aimed at allowing candidates from under-represented countries to commence living and working in the USA.

US emigration is normally made easier if the candidate has:

  • Very high academic qualifications
  • A trade or profession which is in short supply (providing the candidate has several years of experience)
  • Business relationships which ensure the candidate will secure employment

As a result of the strict rules affecting US emigration, many British citizens opt to enter the country as tourist, or on student visas. Once in the country the rules do not change, but it is easier to find an employer who will sponsor their green card application. However, many expatriates eventually find themselves ‘out of status’, meaning they have overstayed their allowed time in the US.

The next steps

If you are interested in emigrating to the US, many law firms specialise in this field. If you are emigrating because your employer has asked you to transfer, you (or your employer) will probably need the help of a corporate immigration law firm.

If on the other hand, you are planning to relocate for personal reasons, we can recommend a solicitor who specialises in personal immigration matters, rather than business. You are likely to benefit greatly from a professional’s advice since one small mistake on the form can mean high costs in appealing a refused application.

For further guidance on how an immigration lawyer can help you, see our information page on immigration lawyers.

Do you want to emigrate to the US and unsure how to go about it? Contact Law can put you in touch with immigration specialist solicitors who deal with applications to the US. Please call us on 0808 129 5772 or complete the web-form above.

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