What is Visa Law?U.S. Visa law is a subset of U.S. Immigration law. U.S. visas permit entry into and travel within the country. There are two main types of visas in the U.S. Immigrant visas are issued to individuals seeking to relocate to the U.S. permanently and are more closely related to Immigration law. Non-immigrant visas are for visitors traveling to the U.S. for a specific time period. When visitors from another country want to enter the U.S. temporarily, they must apply for a non-immigrant visa, which is an official authorization that's attached to their passport.
Visa law covers the procedures required to obtain a non-immigrant visa and oversees various agencies. The U.S. Department of State (DOS) manages consulates and embassies around the world, where applicants must begin the visa application process. Visa law also determines grounds of inadmissibility, such as a history of drug abuse, terrorist or criminal activities, and infectious medical problems, which preclude individuals with these characteristics or behaviors from entering the U.S.
The many types of non-immigrant visas are categorized by the purpose of the applicant's visit to the U.S. and vary in the length of time for which they may be issued. Although these visas are issued expiration dates based on the applicable laws, most can be extended more than once. There are many classifications of visitors to the U.S., which include some of the following: NATO and foreign government officials, students, temporary workers and trainees, intra-company transferees, religious workers, international representatives, visitors for business and for pleasure, representatives of foreign information media, treaty traders and investors, fiancés of U.S. citizens, and aliens in transit through the U.S. Business people and students compose the largest percentage. Spouses and unmarried minor or dependent children may usually accompany or join non-immigrant visa holders.
There are some visitors who do not require a visa if they are from one of the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) countries and are only visiting for up to 90 days for business or pleasure. Visitors who meet these VWP requirements will be issued green I-94 cards which cannot be extended, and they may not change their status.
U.S. Visa DefinitionA U.S. visa is an official authorization added to a passport, which permits entry into and travel within the U.S. Citizens of a foreign country who seek to enter the U.S. for a limited period of time must comply with U.S. visa immigration law and specific procedures to apply for a nonimmigrant visa. They must submit an application, or often a series of applications, to one or more of the U.S. agencies responsible for carrying out the immigration laws. Usually part, if not all, of the visa application process must be done in the country where the applicant resides, at a consulate or embassy managed by the U.S. Department of State (DOS). For the protection of the United States, people with histories of criminal or terrorist activities, drug abuse, infectious medical problems, or certain other characteristics or behavior will never be allowed a visa, green card, or U.S. entry. In immigration law terms, these characteristics are known as the grounds of inadmissibility.
There are several types of nonimmigrant visas, which are classified by the reason the visitor is seeking to enter the U.S. These include: foreign government officials, visitors for business and for pleasure, aliens in transit through the United States, treaty traders and investors, students, international representatives, temporary workers and trainees, representatives of foreign information media, exchange visitors, fiancés of US citizens, intra-company transferees, NATO officials, religious workers, and some others. Most nonimmigrants can be accompanied or joined by spouses and unmarried minor, or dependent, children. Students and businesspeople make up the largest groups of nonimmigrant visa holders.
Nonimmigrant visas allow the visitor to enter the United States and to engage in certain activities while there. Just as nonimmigrant visas vary in purpose, they also vary as to how long they last. Each nonimmigrant visa is given an expiration date according to what the law allows. Most can also be extended a certain number of times.
A visa is not necessary for short-term visitors from one of the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) countries. The DOS's Bureau of Consular Affairs provides a list of countries that participate in the VWP on it's website. Nationals from these countries can come to the U.S. for up to 90 days for business or pleasure purposes. Visitors coming to the U.S. under the VWP will be given green-colored I-94 cards. They cannot extend their stay or change their status.
Visas - Know Your Rights!
Visa and Immigration Laws Articles
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- ICE Investigations: What Employers Need to Know in 2023For employers in Texas and other states around the country, the risk of facing scrutiny from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is one of many risks they face—and need to manage—on a day-to-day basis. The Immigration Reform and Control Act requires employers and companies to verify the eligibility for employment of their job candidates prior to hiring. Immigration and Customs Enforcement works together with the Department of Homeland Security to "protect America from the cross-border crime and illegal immigration that threaten national security and public safety", and conducts investigations to ensure national security. Those investigations can lead to substantial penalties not only for employers, but for their owners, officers, directors, and personnel as well.
- Does Immigration Status Affect Your Workers’ Compensation Benefits?Every employee hopes to get through their workday safely, but getting injured on the job is always a risk - especially in areas with a high rate of injury, like construction, agriculture, trucking, logging, and fishing. Suffering an injury at work has serious implications for an employee’s ability to return to the job, and the wages lost in the meantime. However, employees have protection under worker’s compensation, which is a form of insurance providing medical benefits and wage supplements to injured workers. In exchange for the benefits of worker’s compensation, an employee waives their right to sue the employer for negligence.
- Can a Divorce Affect Your Immigration Status in Texas?There are an estimated 4.3 million immigrants living in Texas, comprising 16.5% of the state’s total population. Many immigrants are married in Texas, which makes many of them wonder, “can a divorce affect your immigration status?” Each situation is unique, which is why it is advisable to discuss your particular case with a Texas divorce attorney. Divorce is, in and of itself, a stressful and confusing process. However, possible immigration issues may add even more stress if you are contemplating a divorce in Texas.
- ICE/I-9 Audit – 5 Keys to a Strong DefenseAre you facing an I-9 audit? Are you worried about whether this audit could affect your business and reputation? If so, then it is important to act quickly because these audits can lead to significant fines and even criminal prosecution. The first and most important step you can take if you are facing an I-9 audit is to hire an attorney experienced in I-9 audit defense.
- Can My Visa Be Revoked If I Commit a Crime Even If There Is No Conviction?Earning the right to live and work in the United States is usually the result of an extensive application process, so the threat of having a visa revoked for having committed a crime is a frightening prospect. The revocation of a visa has severe implications for the visa holder and their family, including inability to re-enter the United States or obtaining visa extensions and renewals. It is important to understand what can happen if a visa holder is arrested and/or charged with a crime, and the necessity of working with an experienced immigration lawyer.
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Articles written by attorneys and experts worldwide discussing legal aspects related to Immigration including: extradition, green cards, naturalization and citizenship, visas, work permits and visas.