The LawGives Immigration Guide provides information on immigrant visas and non-immigrant visas. Each visa description details: who can apply for the visa, work authorization status, and the length of stay.


Visa Applications

There are 2 main types of visas. Immigrant visas and non-immigrant visas.

  • An immigrant visa is the visa issued to persons who wish to live permanently in the United States.
  • A nonimmigrant visa is the visa issued to persons with a permanent residence outside the U.S. but who wishes to be in the U.S. on a temporary basis (i.e. Tourism, medical treatment, business, temporary work, or study.

Green Card Application

The steps to becoming a United States Green Card holder (permanent resident) vary by category and depend on whether you currently live inside or outside the United States. The 4 main categories are:

Marriage-Based Citizenship

Naturalization for Spouses of U.S. Citizens

Generally, you may qualify for naturalization under Section 319(a) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) if you:

  • Have been a permanent resident (green card holder) for at least 3 years
    • **NOTE: in unique cases, spouses of U.S. citizens employed abroad may qualify for naturalization regardless of the amount of time they've spent as a permanent resident. These spouses may qualify under Section 319(b) of the INA.
  • Have been living in marital union with the same U.S. citizen spouse during such time
  • Meet all other eligibility requirements under this section:
    • Be 18 or older
    • Be a permanent resident (green card holder) for at least 3 years immediately preceding the date of filing Form N-400, Application for Naturalization
    • Have been living in marital union with the U.S. citizen spouse, who has been a U.S. citizen during all of such period, during the 3 years immediately preceding the date of filing the application and up until examination on the application
    • Have lived within the state, or USCIS district with jurisdiction over the applicant’s place of residence, for at least 3 months prior to the date of filing the application
    • Have continuous residence in the United States as a lawful permanent resident for at least 3 years immediately preceding the date of filing the application
    • Reside continuously within the United States from the date of application for naturalization until the time of naturalization
    • Be physically present in the United States for at least 18 months out of the 3 years immediately preceding the date of filing the application
    • Be able to read, write, and speak English and have knowledge and an understanding of U.S. history and government (also known as civics)
    • Be a person of good moral character, attached to the principles of the Constitution of the United States, and well disposed to the good order and happiness of the United States during all relevant periods under the law

Travel Visas


Generally, a citizen of a foreign country who wishes to enter the United States must obtain either a nonimmigrant visa for a temporary visit or an immigrant visa for permanent residence.

Visitor visas are non-immigrant visas for persons who want to enter the United States temporarily for business (B-1 Visa), tourism, pleasure or visiting (B-2 Visa), or a combination of both purposes (B-1 Visa / B-2 Visa).

Visa Denial

With only a few exceptions, every visa applicant is interviewed by an immigration officer at a US Embassy or Consulate. After all application materials are reviewed, the visa is either approved or denied based on U.S. immigration law.

Common reasons for the denial of a visa include, but are not limited to:

  • Health grounds
  • Criminal grounds
  • Security grounds
  • Public burden
  • Illegal entrants or immigration violators
  • Failure to produce required documents
  • Ineligible for citizenship
  • Previously removed from the United States
  • The spouse of a U.S. citizen is almost always denied a visitors visa on the grounds that the spouse will likely want to stay in the United States. However, the spouse of a U.S. citizen is typically able to immigrate to the United States without much trouble.

Re-Applying for a Visa

If you have been found ineligible for a visa, you may apply again in the future. Typically, you must submit a new visa application and pay the visa application fee again. Keep in mind that it is important to analyze why you were previously denied a visa, and then work to strengthen those areas for your next application.



Deportation occurs when the Federal Government formally removes an "alien" from the United States for violations of either immigration or criminal laws. Once deported, aliens may permanently lose the right to return to the United States, even as a temporary visitor.

Removal is the term used to describe the legal proceeding used during deportation. An alien who is subject to a removal procedure has the legal right to challenge the removal itself on procedural or constitutional grounds.

Classes of Deportable Aliens

  • Is an inadmissible alien according to immigration laws in effect at the time of entry to the U.S. or adjustment of nonimmigrant status;
  • Is present in the U.S. in violation of the Immigration and Nationality Act or any other U.S. law;
  • Violated nonimmigrant status or a condition of entry into the U.S.;
  • Terminated a conditional permanent residence;
  • Encouraged or aided any other alien to enter the U.S. illegally;
  • Engaged in marriage fraud to gain admission to the U.S.;
  • Failed to register or falsified documents relating to entry in to the U.S.;
  • Engaged in any activity that endangers public safety or creates a risk of national security; or
  • Engaged in unlawful voting.

Deportation or Removal Process

Deportation or Removal Process

  1. A Notice to Appear (NTA) is issued by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, served to the alien, and filed with the immigration court. In addition to containing general information about the immigrant (name, country of origin, etc.), the NTA also states the reasons for the deportation or removal.
  2. A deportation hearing is scheduled, at which the immigration judge asks if the alien is ready to proceed with the case, or if he or she needs time to secure an attorney. If the alien needs time to secure an attorney, a hearing is scheduled for a later date.
  3. Once the alien has an attorney, or chooses to proceed without an attorney, the alien will be asked by the immigration judge to verify the contents of the Notice to Appear (NTA).
  4. If the immigration judge determines that the information in the NTA is correct and the alien is eligible for deportation, the alien is given the opportunity to apply for any form of relief from deportation. If the alien is eligible for relief from deportation and chooses to apply for it, then an individual hearing date is set. If not, the judge will order deportation.
    • If an individual hearing is held, then the alien can give testimony and have witnesses testify on their behalf. At the conclusion of the individual hearing, the immigration judge will make an oral decision on the matter, or release a written decision at a later date. The immigration service has the opportunity to appeal an unfavorable individual hearing decision.
    • If a deportation order has been made, the alien has 30 days from the date of the decision to appeal their decision to the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA). If the BIA decides against the alien, the alien can appeal to the appropriate U.S. Court of Appeals. The immigration service may not appeal an unfavorable decision by the BIA. An appellate court decision can be appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court by either the alien or the immigration service.
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