Law FAQ: What to do if I am in the U.S. on a Temporary Visit and Wish to Obtain a Permanent Visa

immigration law


immigration lawAmerica is a land of immigrants and many foreigners have made major contributions to the country’s economy and culture. In spite of this, It is still very hard to get a permanent visa in this country and the immigration law rules regarding visa and green card applications can be highly confusing.

Immigrant visas in the US give the holders the right to stay in the U.S permanently, as distinct from a nonimmigrant visa, which requires the holder to return to their home country upon expiry of the visa.  An immigrant visa, by contrast, does not expire and it is not necessary to renew or extend it.

An immigrant visa is valid permanently unless you engage in an illegal activity in the U.S or if you have your immigrant visa revoked. The other major advantage of an immigrant visa is that it does not constrain you to stay in the U.S but permits travel in and out of the country at any time without incurring the danger of visa revocation or cancellation, as long as you have a valid re-entry permit. .

If you are visiting the US and you decide you want to get a permanent visa, you will have to meet very specific criteria. When you got your visa to come for a visit, you were promising the United States government and the government of your country of origin that you would return home after your visit.

Before you are even issued a visa, you will have to state the purpose of your trip. When you arrive in the U.S. you will have to again state the purpose of your trip.

How to Get a Permanent Visa in the U.S.

A permanent visa is called an immigrant visa. If a foreigner intends to live and work in the United States, they must have one of these visas. In some cases, a prospective employer will sponsor an immigrant for a visa, and in other cases, a spouse or other relative will sponsor them.

If you are a worker who has exceptional abilities or training in a certain industry, you may be able to advocate on your own behalf. You can also petition on your own behalf if you have invested a significant amount of money in real estate in the U.S.

Permanent visas are also issued to religious workers and international broadcasters. If you hail from a country that does not have many US visa applicants, you may be able to apply for the diversity lottery.

The US also allows victims of domestic violence and refugees to apply for residence. No matter what category you fall into, it is important to hire a trained immigration lawyer to represent you and to help navigate the various and often confusing immigration law requirements.

Steps to Getting a Green Card

If you are eligible for a green card, you will want to go on the U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services Website and fill out an I-485 form.

A green card provides official immigration status and is also a requirement for those seeking to naturalize as a US citizen.  You need to first find out if you are eligible to apply for a green card.  There are various categories that permit eligibility, including family issues, employment, victims of abuse, refugee and other ‘special immigrant’ categories.

Remember that you must pay a fee of $1,140 to apply for a card. You will have to provide certain documents to the American Consulate in your country of origin. You can check the progress of your application online. You will need the receipt number in order to do this.

The last step in the green card process is your interview. You will have to show them a photo identification card at the interview. You will also have to swear to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. 

They will ask if you have ever committed a crime and if you have been arrested. They will also ask if you have ever voted in America. They will ask you if your circumstances have changed since applying for the card. 

If your employer is sponsoring you, they will ask questions about your job and if your spouse is sponsoring you, they will ask questions about your marriage.

A Green card can take anywhere from 7 months to 33 months to acquire. Immigration is not the kind of thing one should do on a lark. However, if you love the country and take all the appropriate steps, you may be able to stay in the land of opportunity. 

Authoritative Sources:


Cascadia Cross Border Law is an immigration law firm based in Washington.