Immigrate to the United States: permanently or temporarily

Stati Uniti d'America - immigrare

Immigrate to the United States: permanently or temporarily

Author: Pierre Varasi

Translation by Matteo Gaipa

March 2015

Since 1965 with the Hart-Cellar Act, the United States created the so called “preferences system” in order to facilitate the immigration of certain categories of persons. In addition to family members of citizens, and permanent residents, also workers sponsored by private companies have been favored.

140.000 places were available for them. They had to find a job in an American company willing to start the immigration procedure.

Today the “employment-based” category is divided into five subgroups. Every subgroup has a numerical limit.

1. You may be eligible as first preference with a 40,000 limit if you have an “extraordinary ability” in arts, science, education, business, athletics;

2. You may be eligible as second preference with a 40,000 limit if you have an advanced degree or extraordinary abilities above mentioned;

3. You may be eligible as third preference with a 40,000 limit if you are a skilled worker with two years work experience, graduates, and unskilled workers for jobs in which qualified workers are not available in the United States;

4. You may be eligible as forth preference with a 10,000 limit if you are a special immigrant such as religious workers, and people who has worked for the US government;

5. You may be eligible as fifth preference with a 10,000 limit if you are willing to invest between 500,000 and 1 million dollar for a company which will create at least 10 job. This is the easiest way, but of course it can be pursued by few people.

Unused quotas will be distributed between the underlying categories. Fifth category quotas, which are not assigned, will be added to the first category.

Moreover it is important to remember that there are other ways to be resident, for example the random “diversity lottery”. Once you have reached the chosen destination, the labor market is more flexible and accessible than in Europe, also promotions and career progressions are relatively easier if you know the language and you are willing to rise through the ranks.

If you are a resident worker it is not difficult to get a citizenship, it requires a quite long period, indeed if you have a Green Card you will obtain rights and duties of citizens after five or six years.

This is not an easy path but on the other hand it is possible to obtain a temporary job. In the United States million “non-immigrants” people arrive every year with a temporary visa. In 2013, they were 9,164,349. There are different ways of admission: tourism visas, worker visas, student visas, everyone with a temporary legal status. It is important for economical and political reasons to better describe the H category which includes workers, that in 2012 has obtained 611,912 concessions. 135,911 for people in specialty occupation: 65,345 agricultural workers, 50,000 seasonal workers, 80,015 families of workers with a H visa.

The main temporary worker categories are divided into three visas:

H-1B: this visa allows companies and American companies to hire foreign people in specialty occupations. They are highly skilled workers, and the ones who are likely to become permanent residents. This program allows people to work in the US for up to a total of three years, and it can be renewed only one time. The application for a permanent residence must be followed by the company sponsor. This visa has a 65,000 annual limit, and 20,000 places for students with a specialized degree obtained in the US. Renewals are not deducted from these quotas.

H-2A: this visa allows the entry of seasonal agricultural workers. They must be citizens of one of the 59 states, annually updated, which are allowed to send their citizens. Although there is no acceptance limit, visas are valid for one year and they can be renewed up to three years.

H-2B: these are seasonal visas but not agricultural. The application must be drafted by one of the 59 states annually chosen by the government. Validity and renewability are the same of H-2A visa. However there is a 66.000 limit.



Immigration Policy Center
Report of the Visa Office
JH Wilson , Immigration Facts
Temporary Foreign Workers