To the immigration newcomer, the world of United States immigration can be a daunting place.
Lets break it down.
Generally speaking, immigration matters can be divided into two major subcategories:
IMMIGRANT matters, and NONimmigrant matters.
Immigrant matters concern permanent immigration (greencard) status, and can be based upon employment, family relationship, asylum, or refugee status. There are other bases for permanent immigration status that depend on a variety of facts specific to each individual. USCIS provides an overview of these other options here, but if you think you may fall into one of these "other" categories, it is usually best to consult an immigration lawyer to determine your best option.
Nonimmigrant matters concern temporary immigration status, and can similarly be based upon employment or family relationship, as well as other qualifying factors that fall into an alphabetical chart of temporary visa types that can be found here (arranged by type, not letter) at the State Department website. Here is the list I use for my own quick reference in practice:
B-1/B-2 Visitor : B-1 - for Business / B-2 - for Pleasure
E-1 - Treaty Trader / E-2 - Treaty Investor
F-1 - Academic Student
G - Representatives of International Organizations
H1B - Specialty Occupation – General Applications, and Benching/Nonpayment Complaints
H1C - Registered Nurses
H2A - Agricultural Labor
H2B - Other Temporary Labor
H3 - Trainee
I - Representatives of Foreign News Media
J - Exchange Visitor
K - Fiancé(e) of U.S. Citizen
L - Intra Company Transferee
M - Vocational Student
O-1, O-2 - Extraordinary Ability
P-1, P-2, P-3 - Athletes and Group Entertainers
Q - International Cultural Exchange Program
R - Religious Vocation or Profession
TN - Trade NAFTA Professionals
In reality, there are a number of other nonimmigrant temporary immigration status options, and often an individual may potentially qualify for more than one option. That is why it is usually best to consult an immigration lawyer to be sure that you know all your options.
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