US immigration law controls when and how citizens of other countries may enter the US to visit, live and work here permanently (get a "green card"), or become a naturalized US citizen. If you want to do any of these things, here's a list of what to do, not to do, and keep in mind to help you reach your goal.
- Play by the rules
- Anyone who enters the US illegally will be deported, and it usually can't be stopped
- Here legally? A criminal conviction may lead to deportation, too
- Don't sign any immigration papers, like visa applications, you don't understand
- Be truthful with immigration officials. Lying may bar you from entering the US
- Make certain your employer E-Verifies you when you get a new job
- Don't overstay the time limit on your student, special work or other temporary visa
- A visa is the first step to becoming a permanent lawful resident ("green card" holder), so get it right
- Fill out your application for the visa Diversity Lottery Program as soon as possible, and do it carefully
- With a green card and five years of living in the US, you can start the process to become a US citizen
- You may qualify for asylum in the US if you're in danger or persecuted in your home country
- Contact an immigration lawyer immediately if you have any difficulties with US immigration laws
The immigration process can be long and complicated. No matter what your goal is - a brief visit or a permanent move - any mistake along the pushes you farther away from that goal. Take some time to get it right and you'll see first-hand why so many people from other countries want to come to the US.