You may have heard all kinds of stories about the complexity of the US immigration and the difficulties in securing a permanent visa but let's look at the facts behind the stories:
- Over 1 million people emigrate to the USA every year
- Over 90% of British visa applications are successful
- Around 2% of the total American immigration figures are from Britain
- There are around 185 different types of visas
So yes, it may well be a complicated process but British citizens have a better chance than most of being granted a visa. This brief guide is designed to give you an overall view of some of the relevant visa requirements but bear in mind that legislation is always changing so do seek expert advice before taking the plunge. Find out more about applying for a US Visa.
Generally US visas fall under 2 categories; non-immigrant visas for tourists or business people and immigrant visas which can lead to permanent residency and as we are dealing with US immigration we'll focus on the latter group.
E Visa – mainly for investors these visas last up to 5 years and can be renewed, so you could in theory survive indefinitely with an E Visa. E-1 visas are suitable for business owners or partners of a US business which largely trades with the UK. E-2 visas require an investment of 50% in a US company. Holders of an E-2 visa can apply for a Green Card and can apply for spouses and children to join them.
H Visa - temporary working visas which require a firm offer of employment first.
- A H-1B visa is for migrants educated to degree level and who have obtained sponsorship. This is one of the most
common visas that British expats have applied for and whilst it is a temporary visa it does allow for application of a
- H-1C is for registered nurses
- H-2A and H-2B are for skilled and unskilled workers whose occupations are in demand
- H-3 for trainees who cannot train in their home countries and who are seeking employment outside the USA - H-4 for spouses and dependants. A H-4 visa does not allow for employment.
I Visa - for those working within the media sector in their home countries. You can apply numerous times and the visas are valid for extended periods. Immediate family may also join you with a H-4 visa.
J Visa - Exchange visa programme for students, trainees, teachers, au-pairs etc. These visas are valid for up to 18 months and once expired, the applicant must remain in their home country for 2 years before applying for another.
K Visa – For betrothed partners of US citizens who must prove their intention to marry. They must wed within a 90 day period after the issue of the visa.
L Visa - Employees can be transferred via their company to lend specialist knowledge in the USA. This route can also lead to a Green Card.
O and P Visas - For applicants with a special talent at the top of their professions.
For more information on visa types visit the official US Immigration website.