Before 2002, the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) oversaw immigration and naturalization issues; in September 2002 President Bush signed the Homeland Security Act, transferring the powers of the INS to the Department of Homeland Security.

As a result, immigration has become rigid and complex. With the threat of terrorism and the question of the security of our borders, to obtain a visa one must now cope with long waiting periods and stringent requirements. Fees have been raised as well as penalties.

Biometrics is employed by the U.S. government to collect data about those already in the system. Biometrics are the physical identifiers unique to each person. They include retina (eye scans), fingerprints and handprints and hand shape. This is one of the security methods employed in an attempt to better monitor who enters and moves about in the United States.

Types of Visas

A visa allows the holder to apply for entry into the United States. It does not grant a right to enter the United States. There are two main categories of visa applicants:

• Immigrant Visa
• Nonimmigrant Visa

Immigrant Visa

Immigrant visas are for persons who wish to become permanent lawful residents in the United States. A green card is necessary in order to become a permanent resident or become naturalized (citizen). To obtain a green card Form I-551 must be filled out.

Nonimmigrant Visa

Nonimmigrant visas are given to short-term visitors such as students, business people and tourists.

Temporary Worker

A nonimmigrant temporary worker is an alien who is allowed entry and work in the United States for a short period of time. The following is a list of classifications for temporary worker visas:

Registered nurses

Workers with "specialty occupations". This is based on education, relevant experience and skill

Registered nurses to work in areas lacking sufficient health professionals

Workers performing temporary services of labor if unemployed persons within the United States are not found to perform those exact jobs
Trainees receiving instruction in field. This does not apply to aliens coming to seek medical education and training

O-1, O-2, O-3
Workers with extraordinary achievement in the arts, sciences, business or sports and those accompanying them for the sole purpose of providing assistance
P-1, P-2, P-3, P-4
Internationally recognized athletes and entertainers and their spouses and children
R-1, R-2
Workers in religious occupations

Ways of Entry

The main way to gain entry into the U.S. is through sponsorship or petition.

• Spouse or blood relatives
• Employment

Spouse or Blood Relative

In order for a relative or spouse to be a sponsor the following requirements must be satisfied:

• Sponsor must be a citizen or lawful permanent resident of the United States
• Sponsor can support relative at 125% of the mandated poverty line
• Provide proof of relationship
• Must file I-130, Petition for Alien Relative


In order for an employer to sponsor foreign nationals the following conditions must be met:

• U.S. employer must file a labor certification request, Form ETA 750
• Form I-140, Petition for Alien Worker must be approved
• State Department must assign an immigrant visa number to the applicant
• When already in the U.S., the applicant must apply to permanent visa status when visa       number becomes available
• When applicant is outside the U.S. when a visa number becomes available, they must complete process at their local U.S. consulate

The following is a list and description of foreign workers granted permanent resident status based on employment qualifications:

Foreign nationals of extraordinary ability in science, art, business and athletics. Professors, researchers, managers and executives subject to international transfer

Professionals with advanced degrees in science art or business. Physicians who will practice medicine in underserved areas of the United States

Professionals with bachelors degree, skilled workers with a minimum of two years training and experience

Religious workers, former employees of the United States government abroad

Investors who have contributed required capital to enterprise which will create employment for American citizens and benefit the United States economy

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