Methods of Obtaining Temporary Legal Status in the U.S.

The following is an overview of the current law applying to applications for temporary and permanent visas in the U.S. based upon employment or business purposes.

There are many different kinds of nonimmigrant visa types. The following are the most commonly used visas to obtain status here:

Persons obtaining these visas are permitted to enter the United States for temporary, specifically defined periods of time and in most cases must show intent to return to their home country at the end of their temporary stay.

Those applying overseas have their eligibility reviewed twice before coming to the United States. The State Department Consular Officer decides whether the individual's purpose in coming fits one of the approved categories, and whether the person meets all other eligibility criteria for admission before issuing a visa to allow the individual to come to the United States. Upon arrival, all nonimmigrants are inspected by the USCIS to reconfirm their qualification for admission, and to authorize a specific length of stay. This process at the border has become more difficult in the past several years, as border officials aggressively scrutinize a person's reasons for coming here before admitting them. Simply the fact that a person has a visa in his or her passport does not guarantee entry into the U.S. The person has to expect questioning at the border, especially if they have previously been in the U.S. for extended periods of time.

Every person's unique case must be evaluated specifically to determine which non-immigrant visa (or rather direct application for permanent residence) offers the best chances for legalizing their status or extending their legal status here.

More Information:

  • Directory of Visa Categories (US Department of State)

  • Apply for Nonimmigrant Visas to the U.S (USA.Gov)