All posts by Cheng, Cho, & Yee, Immigration Lawyers

What Is an Investor Visa, and What Are the Requirements to Obtain It?

What is an investor visa? To become an immigrant investor, you may be able to live permanently in the U.S. with an EB-5 investor visa. This visa allows investors abroad to invest in US-based projects in accordance with the requirements in place.

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Curious to know more about the EB-5 investor visa and if you qualify to apply for one? Get some help from the attorneys at Cho Immigration Law by calling 312-853-3088.

What Is an Investor Visa?

Generally, EB-5 visa investment opportunities are those that involve a project based in the U.S. that overseas investors can invest at least $800,000 or $1,500,000 in while living in the U.S. as lawful permanent residents (LPRs).

The specific types of opportunities that fall under this category include expenditures of money, job creation, and new business ventures. The goal of this visa is to allow foreign investors to support new opportunities in the US while giving these investors the chance to live and work in the US.

However, there are criteria in place if you need to apply for this visa as an investor abroad.

What Are the Requirements for Obtaining an EB-5 Investor Visa?

If you would like to apply for an EB-5 Visa, the following are the requirements you must meet:

An Investment Minimum

How much money is required for an investor visa in the U.S.? This depends on the location of the investment.

If you plan on investing in a targeted employment area (TEA) in the U.S., you will need to invest a minimum of $800,000 in the investment opportunity. These employment areas have a minimum of 150% of a rural area’s or the national unemployment rate.

However, if you want to invest in a new business venture in other locations, you must invest at least $1,500,000.

Investing in Commercial Enterprises

Not only must you invest a minimum dollar amount, but that money must also go toward something defined as a “new commercial enterprise.”

According to the USCIS definition, a new commercial enterprise is one that is established no earlier than November 29, 1990. A commercial enterprise, in this case, is any type of for-profit company originating from the U.S. that conducts lawful business.

There are exceptions for enterprises older than November 29, 1990. For example, the enterprise may qualify as an EB-5 investment opportunity if it has undergone significant reorganization or structural changes. It may also qualify if it has seen a 40% increase in its employee body or net worth.

Examples of new commercial enterprises include:

  • Sole proprietorships
  • Joint ventures
  • Holding companies and their wholly owned subsidiaries
  • limited liability companies (LLCs)
  • General or limited partnerships
  • Other publicly or privately owned business entities that can receive investments

When investing in these properties, you have the option of making either regional or direct investments. Direct investments entail investing or purchasing existing enterprises or launching a new company. Meanwhile, regional investments involve investing in regional centers.

Job Creation

Another criterion to consider is the creation of at least 10 jobs in the U.S., which consists of full-time jobs for employees who work a minimum of 35 hours per week. Workers who can apply for these jobs include LPRs, American citizens, and immigrants in the country with an employment-based visa, but they exclude nonimmigrant workers.

The jobs created through the investment can include either direct or indirect jobs. Direct jobs come from the new commercial enterprise and function as the employer in the relationship with the qualified workers. Conversely, indirect jobs result from the activities of the new commercial enterprise, such as jobs created by the demand for more services from a manufacturer that provides equipment for the enterprise.

Legal Funding

Investments must come in the form of legally obtained funds. In the process, you must prove that your investment funds come from a legitimate source, such as accrued savings, sold properties or businesses, gifts, or inheritance.

Not only will you need to show that your money comes from legal sources, but you must also show that the money will legally transfer to the investment.

Most of this proof of legal funding will consist of recent bank statements, along with other types of financial documentation tracing the origins and ultimate path of investment funds.

A Management Role in the New Commercial Enterprise

Another key requirement is that the EB-5 visa holder must play a management role in the commercial enterprise. Managerial responsibility could include daily management or the development of company policies.

You may effectively prove this aspect by providing USCIS with a title statement that includes details about your management role within the company.

“At-Risk” Funds

One last requirement to consider is that your investment funds must qualify as “at-risk,” meaning that they can result in either a total gain or loss. You may satisfy this requirement by using an escrow account to hold your funds, but there must be no guarantee that your funds will go back to you via return of investment (ROI).

What Is the Process of Obtaining an EB-5 Investor Visa?

Obtaining an investor visa in the U.S. follows a similar path to other types of visas.

To get this type of visa, you must follow these steps:

  1. Submit an immigrant petition and all necessary supporting documentation, allowing you to enter the country as a conditional permanent resident.
  2. When submitting Form I-526, Immigrant Petition by Alien Investor, you must show that your investment meets all of the above requirements, including that your investment involves legal funds, that the investment opportunity qualifies as a new commercial enterprise, and you have management duties within the enterprise.
  3. If necessary, you may file Form I-485 to adjust your status if you are currently a nonimmigrant investor, which will help you obtain a two-year green card for conditional permanent residency.
  4. Submit Form I-829, Petition by Investor to Remove Conditions on Permanent Resident Status, which will enable you to extend your conditional status. You must complete and submit this form within 90 days of the end of your status as a conditional permanent resident, and you’ll need supporting documentation that further proves your qualifications.
  5. USCIS will provide you with Form I-797, Notice of Action, to confirm its receipt of Form I-829.

How an Immigration Attorney in Chicago Can Help With Your Application

The process of applying for an EB-5 investor visa can be challenging, but the right Chicago immigration legal services attorney can help you navigate the entire process from beginning to end.

Immigration lawyers understand the many challenges that immigrants face and can work with them to overcome them, including the challenges of applying for investor visas and other visa types. They can also go into the immigration myths that might make you reluctant to apply for a visa.

Additionally, immigration lawyers in Chicago can answer any questions you have, such as “What is the difference between immigrant visas and nonimmigrant visas?” and “How can I choose the right visa?” You may find that another visa opportunity better suits your immigration needs.

There are many services that immigration lawyers can provide based on your unique requirements. For instance, they can help you identify the appropriate visa, assist with the completion of documents like Form I-526 and others, and ensure you successfully navigate the application process. If you face issues such as deportation, attorneys could also represent you to help prove that you are legally capable of remaining in the country, either as an immigrant investor or another type of visa holder.

Having a lawyer by your side when applying for an investor visa will ultimately help make the entire process smoother and simpler. Otherwise, you could face challenges and issues that might compromise your case and limit your options.If you would like help from an experienced immigration attorney, contact us Cho Immigration Law by calling 312-853-3088. We can help you determine if an EB-5 investor visa is right for you, or help you find more suitable opportunities to enter the U.S. as a conditional or lawful permanent resident.

What Are the Different U.S. Visa Categories?

Depending on the nature of your entry into the US, there are multiple nonimmigrant and immigrant visa categories to consider during the application process. Choosing the right visa is crucial to ensure you’re legally able to enter the country.

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If you need help determining the right visa category for you and completing the visa application process, consult with the attorneys at Cho Immigration Law by calling 312-853-3088.

Which Visa Is Right for You?

There are many U.S. visa categories available, depending on the purpose of your visit and the type of sponsor you need to help with your application.

Nonimmigrant Visa Categories

If you’re entering the country temporarily, there are several nonimmigrant visa categories that allow you to gain employment or visit the U.S. for other purposes.

Nonimmigrant visa categories include:

  • H Visas: These include H-1B, H-2A, H-2B, and H-3 visas. H-1B visas are for professionals and experts who receive a job offer in the country that demands their specialized skills. Meanwhile, H-2A visas are for temporary employees in agriculture, and H-2B visas are for temporary non-agricultural workers. H-3 visas, on the other hand, go to individuals who want to receive training in the U.S. outside graduate training or medical school.
  • I Visas: These visas apply to members of foreign press, such as journalist, reporters, and camerapeople, working for a media outlet in another country.
  • O Visas: Nonimmigrant visitors to the U.S. can apply for these visas if they have achievements or abilities that qualify as extraordinary and exceptional, along with people traveling with them.
  • L Visas: If you’re changing positions within your current organization, you may apply for an L visa, such as a one-year L-1B visa for executives and managers or a three-year L-1A visa for individuals with certain specialized expertise.
  • P Visas: Artists, athletes, and performance artists may enter the country on a P visa for events or a limited period of time, along with people accompanying them.
  • R Visas: Individuals working in non-profit religious organizations may enter the country on an R visa to complete work directly associated with these organizations.

F visas are also available to students who want to continue their education in the U.S., such as exchange visitors who may need to temporarily live in the country while receiving their education. However, students on F visas won’t be able to gain work outside their educational institutions, and restrictions will apply to on-campus employment.

Another nonimmigrant visa option is a Trade North American Free Trade Agreement (TN NAFTA) permit, also known as a TN visa, that allows individuals from Mexico or Canada to work in the U.S. in accordance with the NAFTA agreement.

Immigrant Visa Categories

In addition to nonimmigrant visas, there are several types of visas for immigrants to apply for if they wish to work and live in the U.S.

For example, spouses of U.S. citizens may apply for IR1, CR1, or K-3 visas, depending on the applicant’s needs. While IR1 and CR1 visas allow nonimmigrants to apply for an immigrant visa to enter the country, they will need to await the approval of Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative. A K-3 visa will enable spouses of American citizens to legally enter the country as nonimmigrants while they wait for the approval of their I-130 application, which can connect them with their loved ones sooner.

If you aren’t currently married, but are engaged to an American citizen and want to live and work in the U.S., you could also apply for the K-1 fiancé(e) visa.

Individuals may want to move to the U.S. primarily for employment purposes, in which cases they can apply for employment-based immigrant visas. These include EB1 visas, which are reserved for priority workers, E2 visas for professionals with exceptional abilities or advanced degrees, and E3 visas for other types of employees across a range of industries. In these instances, employers would be responsible for sponsoring prospective employees while they apply for immigrant status.

Additionally, there are immigrant U.S. visa categories available for religious workers, Iraqis or Afghans who worked with the American government, translators or interpreters from Iraq or Afghanistan, and other immigrants seeking legal residency or employment in the U.S.

Are There Special U.S. Visa Categories?

The Special Immigrant Visa program allows immigrants to live permanently in the U.S. if they provided aid to the U.S. government.

This visa type started in 1965 as a means of allowing more qualifying immigrants into the country who meet the criteria. For instance, special immigrant visa applicants must be either lawful permanent residents (LPRs) returning from another country, immigrants who served as ministers with applicable religious organizations in the U.S., or Panamanian nationals at risk due to the Panama Canal Treaty.

In recent years, the government has issued more SIVs to help Afghan and Iraqi refugees. If you are an Afghan or Iraqi translator or another worker who assisted the U.S. government, or if your life is at risk because of your association with U.S. government work, you may be able to apply for an SIV.

How to Prepare for the Visa Application Process

Regardless of the type of visa you ultimately decide to apply for, you will need to go through a strict visa application process before you can receive your visa. A mistake along the way could lead to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) rejecting your application.

The following are ways you can prepare for the application process to keep it smooth and increase your chances of success:

Make Sure Your Passport Is Valid

One of the most important pieces of documentation you’ll need during the visa application process is your passport. This passport must be valid and contain all accurate, up-to-date information. It must also be valid for a minimum of six months following your period of stay in the country, with exceptions.

Gather Supporting Documents

You will need other documentation to support your application, with immigrant visa applications requiring more documentation than nonimmigrant visas.

You will need the following documents to support your nonimmigrant visa application:

  • DS-160 confirmation page
  • A 2″x2” photo of you against a white background that’s no more than six months old at the time of applying
  • I-797 approval notice for R, L, and H visa applicants
  • I20 or DS-2019 and fees for J, M, and F visa applicants

Depending on the circumstances of your visit and the desired U.S. visa category, you may also need to provide other types of documentation, such as details about the nature of your trip to the U.S., your ability to cover the expenses of the trip, and proof of your intent to leave the U.S. after your period of stay.

Prepare for Your Interview

Another critical step you must take is an interview with a USCIS officer. To succeed with your interview, you should schedule and complete the necessary medical examination, know the visa program you’re applying for, and know what types of questions the interviewer will likely ask about you.

You should also ensure you have all necessary supporting documentation to help you during your interview.

How an Immigration Attorney Can Help You Pick the Right Visa

The visa application process can be daunting, regardless of whether you’re applying for immigrant or nonimmigrant U.S. visa categories. If you need help identifying the right visa for you and completing the application process, experienced immigration legal services attorneys in Chicago can help.

Lawyers can help you understand the four types of immigration statuses in the U.S. and connect you with the right visa based on your desired status. Additionally, they can provide information about the different types of visas and what you’ll need to qualify for them, such as the differences between a fiancé visa vs. spouse visa.

Not only can they help you pinpoint the right US visa categories, but they can also assist you before and during the application process. They can start by helping prepare all documentation you’ll need based on your visa category, complete the application with all relevant, accurate information, and keep track of your application’s process as it awaits USCIS approval.

Chicago immigration attorneys may also provide representation if you face immigration issues such as removal and deportation, helping to keep you in the country.

If you would like help from a dependable immigration lawyer in Chicago, call Cho Immigration Law at 312-853-3088 for assistance with your case.

How Does the F-1 Student Visa Process Work for International Students Studying in the US?

When applying for an F-1 student visa in the U.S., the process will involve completing the appropriate documents and gaining acceptance into a specific educational program, among other steps. Knowing what to expect and the requirements for a student visa can help international students successfully live in the country as students.

Happy young woman holding passport and boarding pass with globe while standing against blue gradient background. F-1 student visa.

What Is the F-1 Student Visa?

The F-1 student visa is a type of nonimmigrant visa allowing students from other countries to gain an education in the U.S. If you want to enter the country on this visa, you need to enroll in a program with a U.S.-based accredited educational institution. You can remain in the country as long as this visa is valid.

Depending on your situation, you can also obtain another visa to continue living and working in the country, such as an H-1B work visa.

What Are the Eligibility Requirements for the F-1 Visa?

There are criteria you must meet if you want to become a student in the U.S. on an F-1 visa. The requirements for the student visa include:

  • Acceptance into a program at an accredited educational institution in the U.S. that falls under the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP).
  • Proficiency in English or working toward proficiency in English through relevant courses.
  • Enrollment as a full-time student with the SEVP-approved school.
  • Completion of the application from outside the country.
  • Ties with your country of origin, proving that you intend to return to your country after completing your studies on your F-1 visa.
  • Adequate financial funding to support your education and stay in the U.S.

If you meet all of these requirements, you may successfully apply for and obtain a student visa.

Step-by-Step Process for Obtaining an F-1 Visa

Once you’re eligible to apply for the F-1 visa, the process is complicated and lengthy, which is why you may need to consult immigration legal services attorneys for help navigating the entire application process.

The following are the steps involved in the application process for this student visa:

  1. You must gain acceptance into an SEVP-approved school, after which you will be in the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS), which is the system the SEVP uses for tracking nonimmigrant students and educational institutions.
  2. The next step is to pay the application fee for Form I-901, which is currently $350.
  3. After paying your fee, your educational institution will send you Form I-20, which labels you as an official student to further allow eligibility.
  4. Once you’ve completed and submitted Form I-20, you can apply with your country’s U.S. consulate or embassy for the F-1 visa.
  5. You must also complete Form DS-160, which requires many details to prove eligibility for the F-1 visa.
  6. You will then attend an interview with an official at your country’s U.S. consulate or embassy. However, individuals under the age of 13 or over 80 will be exempt from this requirement.
  7. After the interview, you must then pay the $185 application fee to complete the process, but you may also need to pay an additional issuance fee.
  8. Wait for the visa application process to complete and receive your visa.

What Is Considered an SEVP-Approved Educational Institution?

SEVP-approved schools have received certification from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to be a part of the SEVP program. Schools must petition for certification by completing Form I-17, Petition for Approval of School for Attendance by Nonimmigrant Student. Once a school has received certification, it will be in the SEVIS system.

Required Documentation for F-1 Visa Application

You will need multiple documents to prove eligibility when applying for your F-1 visa, including Form I-20, a letter of admission from your SEVP-approved school, bank statements and other financial documentation, a valid passport, Form DS-160, two qualifying photos, a receipt for payment of the SEVIS fee, and a Machine Readable Visa (MRV) fee.

Challenges in the F-1 Student Visa Process

When applying for an F-1 student visa, there are challenges you might face along the way. Knowing what these issues are and how to avoid them could help you keep the process smooth and ensure you’re able to receive your visa.


One of the main challenges you might encounter is ineligibility that leads to a rejection of your application. There are many requirements to apply and steps involved in the application process. Any mistakes, missing information, missing documentation, or other issues could make it difficult or impossible to receive your visa.

Make sure you have everything in order before completing Form I-20 and other forms, and ensure you have sufficient supporting documentation to complement your application.

Overstaying the Visa

Like other types of visas, you only have a limited amount of time to stay in the U.S. and study before your F-1 visa expires. It’s important to know what to do when you overstay your visa if you want to avoid removal and deportation.

Generally, in the case of an F-1 visa, it’s in your best interest to return to your country of origin if you’re in the U.S. when your visa expires. The reason for this is that you won’t have a valid immigration status once the period of authorization is over.

There are four types of immigration statuses in the U.S. to keep in mind. As an F-1 visa-holder, you will classify as a nonimmigrant who doesn’t have the ability to work and live in the U.S. without a student visa.

Once you have returned to your home country, you may begin applying for another student visa or another visa classification. For example, you could apply for an H-1B worker visa if you gain employment with a U.S.-based employer. While you would still need to leave the country during the application process, you could work with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) at your country’s consulate to regain entry into the U.S. on a valid visa.

One exception if you overstay your visa is if you are married to an American citizen. In the event of an overstay, your spouse with citizenship could sponsor you as an immediate family member to help you establish lawful permanent residence in the U.S.

Working in the U.S. on Your F-1 Visa

You may want to seek employment in the U.S. while on your student visa, but you must remember that your ability to work is limited on this particular visa type.

Students in the U.S. on an F-1 visa typically cannot gain employment outside their school, with most jobs relegated to on-campus work. If you attempt to work in the U.S., the government could deem you unlawfully present in the country, which could lead to removal and deportation.

As such, you should go through the necessary channels to gain lawful employment in the country while on your student visa. This could entail applying for an H-1B visa once your student visa has expired, and you return to your home country. You could also go through USCIS to receive an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) that allows you to legally work in the country.

How an Immigration Lawyer Can Help You With Visa Delays or Rejections

The application process for the F-1 student visa can be complex, and there are many points when you might face rejection or delays during the process. To help ensure you avoid issues when applying, it’s important to consult an immigration lawyer in Illinois to discuss your needs.

The right attorney can take several key steps to help you complete the application process. For example, he or she could help you prepare all documentation, including the forms you need to complete and the collection of all supporting documents.

In addition, an attorney can work with you to reapply for a visa if you receive an initial rejection, ensuring you meet all eligibility criteria.

Another way an attorney can help is by assisting with the application for a different type of visa, such as an H-1B visa. The process of applying for another visa type while on a student visa can be challenging, but an attorney may handle this for you while you focus on studying at your SEVP-approved institution.

If you face serious repercussions for overstays or other issues such as deportation, an attorney will provide representation to help prevent removal and deportation in many cases.

Understanding the F-1 Visa Process

The F-1 student visa gives international students plenty of opportunities to study in the country at approved institutions. By completing the necessary forms, collecting critical supporting documentation, gaining approval from an SEVP-certified school, and taking other key steps, it’s possible to successfully secure the F-1 student visa.

What Determines Eligibility to Work in the United States?

Numerous factors influence eligibility to work in the United States, including the type of classification you want to seek as an immigrant or nonimmigrant, current government requirements, and proof of eligibility to work. It’s important to understand the criteria you must meet if you wish to gain employment in Illinois or any other state in the U.S. as an immigrant or nonimmigrant worker.

A U.S. border Security agent, inspecting passport at the U.S. customs. Eligibility to work in the United States.

Types of Immigration Statuses and Their Implications on Work Eligibility

One of the main factors that will gauge eligibility to work in the United States is your immigrant status. Noncitizens may work in the U.S. if they are permanent or temporary workers, with the former being lawful permanent residents and the latter being nonimmigrant workers.

These classifications have different requirements in place that people must meet if they wish to gain lawful employment in this country. The following are requirements for a work visa based on immigrant status:

Lawful Permanent Residents

Lawful permanent residents (LPRs) can gain employment in the U.S. with preference visas. Depending on the category, it may require a job offer from a qualified employer based in the U.S., leading the applicant to obtain labor certification.

The following are the preference visas that could authorize LPRs to work in the U.S.:

  • First Preference EB-1: This preference applies to individuals who display “extraordinary ability” in athletics, arts, sciences, business, or education fields. Additionally, multinational managers and executives along with outstanding researchers and professors may apply for a work visa under this category. Labor certification is not a requirement for this preference.
  • Second Preference EB-2: Individuals who display “exceptional ability” in the fields of business, art, or sciences may apply in this category. It also applies to people in occupations with advanced degrees. You will need labor certification in this category unless you qualify for a national interest waiver.
  • Third Preference EB-3: Skilled workers, professionals, and other job classifications can apply for this preference visa, which requires labor certification in all cases.
  • Fourth Preference EB-4: “Special immigrants” can apply for this visa, including U.S. foreign service post workers, religious workers, noncitizen minors who serve as American court wards, and retired international organization employees, among other noncitizen workers. A labor certification is not needed for this category.
  • Fifth Preference EB-5: Investors who make investments of $900,000 or $1.8 million may be able to apply for this preference if they invest in a targeted employment area. Specifically, this investment must go toward a new business venture with a minimum of 10 full-time workers in the U.S. No labor certification is required for this preference.

Nonimmigrant Visa Holders

Some individuals may want to enter the country as nonimmigrants to gain employment, in which cases they may enter via a petition with their prospective employers with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

These applicants may be spouses and children of American residents, with multiple nonimmigrant categories available for workers.

Some examples of these classifications can include CW-1, which is for a CNMI-Only transitional worker, E-1 through E-3 visas for treaty traders and other qualified employees, H-1B visas for workers in specialty occupations or subclassifications, and I visas for representatives in the field of information media.

Regardless of the category, it’s critical to know what businesses and workers should know about L1 visas and other types of visas before beginning to apply for nonimmigrant work in the U.S. The USCIS website provides more information about these categories and their requirements. These categories also differ, depending on whether you’re a spouse or child nonimmigrant seeking work in the U.S.

Undocumented Immigrants

Today, undocumented immigrants share many of the same rights as documented immigrant and nonimmigrant workers in the country, but there are some key exceptions.

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) helps ensure undocumented immigrants benefit from many of the same protections as documented immigrants and citizens. Specifically, the FLSA establishes that undocumented immigrants have the right to minimum wage based on federal and state laws in place. Generally, undocumented immigrants have access to these benefits in the state of Illinois under the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act.

What Documents Are Required for Immigration Employment Eligibility?

When determining eligibility to work in the United States, immigrants and nonimmigrants may need different types of documentation to prove eligibility. Depending on the situation, a few of these key documents include:

Federal Tax Documentation

Noncitizens applying for work in the U.S. may need to obtain and maintain federal tax information. Details from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) can inform you of Taxation of Nonresident Aliens.

Labor Certification

Some preference visas for permanent workers in the U.S. will also require labor certification from U.S. employers who’ve made job offers. These employers will function as sponsors for the immigrant worker and provide sponsorship through a Department of Labor (DOL)-issued labor certification.

Specifically, the labor certification documentation will indicate:

  • That the position is in need of foreign workers when suffering a lack of available, willing, and qualified workers based in the U.S.
  • That employing the applicant won’t have a negative impact on American workers, including their working conditions or income.

Do You Need a Social Security Number to Work in the United States?

Another critical piece of documentation is a Social Security number (SSN). SSNs are necessary for immigrants and nonimmigrants to gain lawful employment and receive other types of benefits from the U.S. government.

If you are a noncitizen and want to obtain an SSN, you will need to receive permission from the Department of Human Services (DHS) to work in the U.S.

How Does the Eligibility Verification Process Work?

Before you can gain employment in the U.S. with a work visa, you must complete the eligibility verification process, which requires sufficient documentation. One important document involved in this process is Form I-9.

What Is Form I-9?

Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification, determines employees’ eligibility to work legally in the U.S. Employers must complete one form per employee, including citizen and noncitizen employees. Additionally, employees must complete this form to be eligible to work in the country.

To supplement the form, employees need to provide evidence of their identity and further proof of eligibility.

Once completed, employees and employers will submit this form to either USCIS or U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

What Happens if You Lose Your Job?

Immigrant and nonimmigrant workers could lose their job while employed in the U.S., whether for reasons specific to that employee or due to general company-wide layoffs. In the event of losing your job, you should know what happens if you get fired on a work visa.

In most cases, such as if you are on an H-1B visa, you will immediately become “out of status” if you lose your job in the U.S. Without work, you could face deportation if you aren’t in the country with a valid job. However, you still have options available to you to help avoid removal while on a work visa.

Employees who lose their job while in the country on work visas have a grace period of 60 days to find new employment. This grace period starts on the last day of work and continues for about another two months, unless the expiration date of your I-94 is sooner.

If you are unable to find a new job or don’t want to leave the U.S. after losing your job, you also have the option of applying for a different type of visa to remain in the country. For example, you could apply for a B-2 tourist visa that allows you to remain in the country as a tourist while you’re unemployed. While on this visa, you could continue seeking employment beyond the 60-day grace period. This tactic could also work with student visas, O visas, TN visas, and other visa classifications.

Getting Help from an Attorney

If you need help determining eligibility to work in the United States or have other concerns regarding immigration to the country, consider consulting with an immigration legal services attorney in Illinois to discuss your needs. A good immigration lawyer will help you determine eligibility and assist with:

  • Preparing and completing the necessary paperwork, including Form I-9 and other relevant documentation
  • Determining the right visa as an immigrant or nonimmigrant worker
  • Checking on the progress of visa processing

Regardless of your goals, it’s important to determine eligibility to work in the United States if you wish to work legally in this country on a valid visa, which will depend on the type of visa you want to obtain and the requirements currently in place for immigrant and nonimmigrant workers.

What Is the Difference Between Immigrant Visas and Non-Immigrant Visas? | Cho Immigration Law

The two main types of visas in the U.S. are immigrant visas and non-immigrant visas, with immigrant visas applying to individuals who wish to gain permanent residency in the country, while non-immigrant visas go to individuals who only want to stay in the country for a limited period of time, whether for work or another purpose.

US flag and citizenship and immigration paperwork.

Knowing more about the difference between immigrant visas and non-immigrant visas can help you determine which to apply for and what to expect with the application process.

What Is an Immigrant Visa?

If foreign nationals entering the U.S. want to live and work in the country on a permanent basis, they must apply for immigrant visas. In most cases, applying for an immigrant visa involves getting a sponsorship from either a family member or an employer who can support the person filing. However, some applicants, such as investors and those with Extraordinary Abilities on EB-1 visas, may apply.

Upon receiving an immigrant visa, recipients can begin the process of obtaining a green card that officially labels them as lawful permanent residents (LPRs) who can live and gain employment in the U.S.

Categories of Immigrant Visas

There are several immigrant visa categories that foreign nationals may apply for before becoming green card holders. These categories include:

  • K-1 and K-3 Visas: While a K-1 visa allows fiancées and fiancés to marry American citizens, a K-3 visa allows spouses of U.S. citizens to become LPRs as they wait for the approval of their I-130 immigrant applications.
  • IR1 and CR1 Visas: Both of these allow immigrants to enter the U.S. with the help of a sponsor with American citizenship.
  • IR2, IR5, CR2, F1, F3, and F4 Visas: These visas enable immigrants to enter the country through family member sponsors, which could include parents, children, and other immediate family members.
  • F2A and F2B Visas: People entering on these visas will have a sponsor who is an LPR at the time of filing.
  • E1, E2, and Other Employment-Based Visas: Different types of workers could enter the U.S. with the sponsorship of employers in different industries and lines of work.

What Is a Non-immigrant Visa?

Foreign nationals can apply for non-immigrant visas if they want to enter the country on a temporary basis. They might want to enter the country for a variety of reasons, including work, education, urgent medical care, or leisure.

Non-immigrant visas won’t allow applicants to become LPRs or American citizens, but they could seek an immigrant visa later. These applicants will need plenty of supporting documentation and official authorization before they can apply for a non-immigrant visa, depending on the nature of their visit to the U.S.

Categories of Non-immigrant Visas

Like immigrant visas, there are multiple non-immigrant visa categories for which foreign nationals may apply.

For example, one common type of non-immigrant visa is the B-1 visa, which applies to domestic employees seeking work in the U.S. along with amateur and professional athletes entering the U.S. to compete.

Another type of non-immigrant visa is H-1B, which allows physicians and others in specialty occupations to enter the country for work purposes. Meanwhile, some foreign nationals may apply for an H-2A visa for temporary agricultural work or an H-2B visa for temporary work of another nature.

Students, on the other hand, could apply for F or M visas to seek education in the U.S.

If you’re not sure which category of visa to seek as either an immigrant or non-immigrant entrant, immigration legal services attorneys can help you identify and apply for the correct category.

Also, depending on the type of visa, you may need authorization from U.S. government agencies, including the Department of Labor, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), or the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVIS) under U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

Challenges in Obtaining Immigrant and Non-immigrant Visas

If you’re seeking either an immigrant or non-immigrant visa in the U.S., there are challenges you may face in your path to becoming a temporary visitor or an LPR. These challenges include:

A Complex and Lengthy Immigration Process

Depending on the current situation in the country, such as the backlog of applications the government must review, along with the type of visa you want to apply for, the visa application process can be difficult to navigate and take a long time to complete.

You may need authorization from the government and plenty of supporting documentation that explains the nature of your entry into the country and proves that you can legally enter as a visitor or resident.

By taking the right steps and working with an attorney, you may be able to expedite the process and gain a faster path toward entry or citizenship.

Getting the Help of a Sponsor

Most visa applicants won’t be able to self-petition, meaning they’ll need to seek sponsorship from a qualifying individual to help them gain entry into the U.S. The specific type of sponsor the person has will depend on the visa type, and this individual could include a family member, employer, or another LPR or U.S. citizen willing to support the visa applicant.

It can be challenging finding the right sponsor to help you streamline the visa application process, but this is another area where an attorney can help.

Preparing Necessary Documentation

You will also need to ensure your paperwork is in order to successfully apply for any visa. There may be a lot of documents you need to prepare and complete with accurate information.

Types of documentation may include:

  • Passport
  • Birth certificates
  • Photos
  • Military records
  • Proof of relationship to your sponsor
  • Financial documents

If you fail to submit sufficient or accurate documentation, you may fail to get through the visa application process. An attorney with experience handling these types of cases may help you prepare all paperwork to ensure it’s ready for submission.

Visa Interviews

Before the government approves your visa application, you must complete an interview with an agent. This agent will ask you questions about your application and the nature of your visit to the U.S., along with your history, occupation, and family. You should take plenty of time to prepare for this interview, including answers to questions and supporting documentation that the agent can review.

An experienced immigration lawyer can help you with this and work with you to prepare for your interview.

What Are the Benefits of Hiring an Immigration Lawyer?

There are several advantages of hiring an immigration attorney to handle your case.

An immigration lawyer can lend legal knowledge to help you navigate the application process. The legal landscape is always changing when it comes to immigration law, and an attorney will keep up with it to help you comply with the latest regulations, laws, and policies in place.

You can also get help completing and filing paperwork to avoid clerical issues and mistakes when government agencies review your application. Even small errors on your application or any missing documentation could mean the difference between success and failure in your case.

In addition, you’ll learn all about what it will take for you to succeed with your case, such as how family-based immigration works if you’re entering the country with an immediate family member as a sponsor.

Know What to Look for in a Lawyer

If you want to successfully apply for either an immigrant or non-immigrant visa, and you want an attorney’s help, you must find the right lawyer to assist you based on your unique needs. Knowing what to look for when hiring an immigration lawyer in Chicago can go a long way in helping you achieve success with your application.

Not all immigration lawyers are the same—some might be more capable of handling your case than others.

For instance, you should seek the help of a lawyer who has experience handling cases similar to yours. Say you’re entering the country as a non-immigrant for work purposes; this would warrant the help of an attorney who knows how to handle non-immigrant cases.

Look for an attorney with plenty of experience. A good attorney will have years of experience in his or her practice area, and a large firm will have plenty of people on staff to help with handling client cases, including paralegals and assistant attorneys. You should know exactly who will help you handle your case, whether it’s the attorney you initially discuss your case with or other staff.

Understanding the Difference Between Immigrant and Non-immigrant Visas

If you plan on entering the country for any reason, it helps to know which visa you need to apply for, whether it’s an immigrant or non-immigrant visa. Seek the right category and properly prepare your application accordingly.