Apply to get an American visa with 5 easy steps that are listed below:
- Preparing your application,
- Submitting your application at the American Embassy,
- Performing your interview and testing,
- Waiting for approval or denial,
- Sending in your documents to complete the process.
Each of these steps will be explained in greater detail below.
1) Know Your Visa Options
There are four types of visas issued by American Embassies around the world, and they’re all based on specific travel intentions. If you’re traveling to America temporarily for work, study or tourism purposes, then you’ll need a different visa than someone who plans on immigrating permanently.
For example, if you want to immigrate permanently to an American Embassy in Europe, your visa needs will be different than someone planning to attend college in New York City. Make sure you know which type of visa is right for your situation before heading to an American Embassy.
It can save you a lot of time and frustration.
American Embassies usually have three offices—the American Visa Office, which deals with temporary visas; the Immigrant Visa section, which deals with permanent immigration; and Citizenship Services, where applicants go to apply for citizenship after living in America for five years as a permanent resident.
Regardless of what section you choose to visit at an American Embassy when applying for your visa, it’s important that you understand how much time each step takes so that your trip abroad doesn’t turn into one long waiting game.
2) Choose a US Employer to Sponsor You
There are two ways that you can get an American visa. You can apply as a refugee, or through immigration. To come as an immigrant, you’ll need to choose an employer who will sponsor your application for permanent residency.
Before applying, you should make sure that they meet certain criteria—the company must be registered with either USCIS (the US Citizenship and Immigration Services) or DOS (the Department of State). Once you’ve chosen an employer, it’s time to start planning your trip.
Depending on where in America you want to live and work, there are different rules and requirements—but in general you should start by making sure that all of your paperwork is up-to-date and in order.
This includes your passport, which must have at least six months left before expiring. If you have any criminal convictions, now is also a good time to disclose them; otherwise, you might not be allowed into America at all.
For example, if you have ever been convicted of driving under the influence (DUI), even if it was years ago and abroad, then don’t forget to mention it on your visa application form! If everything checks out though, then it’s finally time to book your trip!
If possible, try to arrive during business hours so that you can go straight from customs into an interview with immigration officials.
3) Find an Agent or Lawyer
Search for an immigration attorney, as he or she will be able to help guide you through each step of getting a green card.
Ask around; friends, family and coworkers may have used an attorney in their own visa-acquisition process and can offer advice.
If you’re interested in learning more about what it takes to get U.S. residency on your own, find an immigration consultant with an online search engine
you should be wary of lawyers who call themselves consultants because they don’t have any additional formal education or experience regarding immigration law—and speak with him or her about your options before hiring them.
You could also visit your local American Embassy where there are regularly expat meetings and events held.
This is a great way to network and ask questions from people who are going through similar processes.
Attendance is free, so why not take advantage? While at these events, ask about different services that might be available for immigrants looking to apply for permanent residence.
Remember that these services come at a cost (which you should absolutely research beforehand), but attending one of these gatherings is an easy way to learn more about how visas work while connecting with people in similar situations.
4) Process your paperwork
If you’re going on a short trip (less than 30 days) to visit family or friends, there is generally no need for your travel plans to be submitted beforehand.
If you are going on a longer trip and/or moving permanently, you’ll need to apply for immigration benefits ahead of time. It can take weeks or months—and multiple steps—to get approval for these kinds of trips, so it’s best not to wait until the last minute.
Before you get your green card, however, you’ll need to complete an application for U.S. citizenship. You can start that process now, or wait until you have your permanent residency before applying. But if citizenship is on your radar
and if it gives you more job security, which it does—it’s something to consider early in your employment in America (since becoming a citizen doesn’t affect how long you can stay).
While there are several steps involved in applying for citizenship, you don’t need a lawyer to help you; most of what you need will be included with your green card packet.
Here are key steps to getting a permanent visa and working toward citizenship:
Make sure you’re eligible for a green card by filling out Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status.
In addition to information about yourself and your spouse (if applicable), you’ll also need details about your employer, such as their name and address, along with information about where they were founded and their tax ID number.
This part takes some time because you’ll also need proof of any job offers from them—like pay stubs showing they intend to hire you once your green card comes through—as well as copies of any contracts related to work at their company.
All these documents should be kept together in one folder so they’re easy to find when it’s time to apply for citizenship later on down the road.
5) Apply For A Green Card
It’s easy to overlook, but if you want an American visa, you’ll need a green card. A green card is proof that you have permanent residence in America and it serves as your identification inside U.S. borders.
Without it, you can only stay in America for six months before needing another visa or a different form of ID like your passport. Green cards can be tricky to obtain, so use our guide on how to apply for one and avoid running into any potential issues while doing so!
We’ve included tips from our immigration lawyer partners at Pangea3 and immigration law firm Fragomen. They specialize in helping foreigners relocate to America, which means they know exactly what works when it comes to getting approved.
Whether you’re applying for a temporary work visa or planning to make America your home forever, these steps will help get you there.