There are two categories of U.S. visas: immigrant and nonimmigrant. Immigrant visas are issued to foreign nationals who intend to live permanently in the United States. Nonimmigrant visas are for foreign nationals wishing to enter the United States on a temporary basis – for tourism, medical treatment, business, temporary work, study, or other similar reasons.
An immigrant visa is issued to a foreign national who intends to live and work permanently in the United States. In most cases, a relative or employer sponsors the individual by filing an application with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Certain applicants such as workers with extraordinary ability, investors, and certain special immigrants can petition on their own behalf. The application is later forwarded to the appropriate U.S. Consulate or Embassy overseas for continued processing and issuance of the immigrant visa to the intending immigrant, if eligible. An intending immigrant must present the immigrant visa at a U.S. port-of-entry prior to the expiration of the immigrant visa. An intending immigrant becomes a lawful permanent resident once the immigrant visa and accompanying paperwork is reviewed and endorsed by a CBP Officer.
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