General Immigration Information
The United States of America is and always will be a country of immigrants. The United States owes its rich heritage, cultural diversity and incredible ingenuity to the people from all over the world that chose to immigrate here. Unfortunately, immigration laws have become stricter and increasingly complicated.
The most direct route to living and working in the United States is to become a Citizen. Anyone who is born in the United States is a U.S. Citizen. Additionally, anyone who had a United States Citizen parent or a grandparent may potentially derive (inherit) citizenship from them. If a foreign national cannot derive citizenship, then he or she must first become a permanent resident. After 5 years of permanent residency (or 3 in the case of marriage to a U.S. Citizen), a permanent resident is eligible to apply for citizenship.
The most common way to become a permanent resident is through either having a family member petition or one of the employment based categories. Some individuals may also be eligible for permanent residency because they are victims of a crime or abuse, through asylum, or another category such as the Cuban Adjustment Act (only Cuban nationals are eligible). Additionally, wealthy individuals may obtain a green card by investing $500,000 or more through the EB-5 investor green card program.
The other way to come into the United States is on one of the many categories of temporary, non-immigrant visas.