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US Visa Options for Visitors, Students & Workers

August 31, 2009 By Mike V in Miami: Local NewsMiami: Travel News  | 3 Comments


In the United States, Miami is one of the cities with the highest percentage share of immigrants. More than a million individuals became Permanent Legal Residents in 2008.  The majority of these foreign nationals came from North, Central, South America and the Caribbean.  The proximity of Miami to these regions can surely explain the popularity of our “Magic city”, but there is more that meets the eye. 

This piece was written to help out foreigners with their endeavor in relocating to Miami like my girlfriend did several months ago.  She formally resided and did her Masters degree in International Law in London before she came to Miami.  She was able to relocate to the US under a J1 Visa (training Visa) to further her professional training.  The J1 Visa is a temporary Visa which lasts a period of 18 months.

Finding a sponsoring company, which is essential for this Visa, involved knocking on many doors but after months of job hunting she finally found a position.  Some employers may be skeptical when it comes to sponsorships but using an intermediary and paying yourself for the Visa makes it much easier to get hired.  HTP, Inc. is an agency specialized in J1 Visas which handled the whole process.  They did all the paper work and informed her and the sponsoring company of all the procedures and regulations.  They were very efficient and most of all they really helped close the deal.  Within a few weeks my girlfriend went to her embassy and was on a plane to Miami with her new J1 Visa.

Do you also want to relocate to Miami and join our community, here are all the visa options available:

There are two types of U.S. visas: immigrant and non-immigrant.  Immigrant visas (permanent visas) are for people who want to permanently reside in the U.S.  Non-immigrant visas (temporary visas) are for those who want to be in the U.S. on temporary basis, such as for study, tourism, medical treatment, business or temporary work.

Permanent Visa (Green Card)


Immigrants to the United States are divided into two categories:

  • I. UNLIMITED IMMIGRANTS (no limits on number of visas given out) A. Immediate Relatives: The spouse, widow(er) and minor unmarried children of a United States citizen, and the parents of a United States citizen who is 21 or older.
  • B. Returning Residents: Previous U.S. lawful permanent residents who are returning to the U.S. after a stay of more than one year abroad.
  • II. LIMITED IMMIGRANTS (limited number of visas given out annually, click on link for more info)

A. USA Family-Based Immigration Visas

Family-based preference categories include:

  1. First Preference: Unmarried sons and daughters of U.S. citizens, and children if any.
  2. Second Preference: Spouses, children, and unmarried sons and daughters of lawful permanent resident aliens.
  3. Third Preference: Married sons and daughters of U.S. citizens, and their spouses and children.
  4. Fourth Preference: Brothers and sisters of U.S. citizens, and their spouses and children, provided the U.S. citizens are over 20.

B. USA Employment-Based Immigration Visas

  1. Priority Workers: Persons of extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics; outstanding professors and researchers; and certain multinational executives and managers.
  2. Members of the Professions: Professionals holding advanced degrees, and persons of exceptional ability in the sciences, arts, and business.
  3. Professionals, Skilled and Unskilled Workers: Professionals holding baccalaureate degrees, skilled workers with at least two years experience, and other workers whose skills are in short supply in the United States.
  4. Special Immigrants: Certain religious workers, ministers of religion, certain international organization employees and their immediate family members, and qualified, recommended current and former U.S. Government employees.
  5. Investors: Persons who create employment for at least ten unrelated persons by investing capital in a new commercial enterprise in the United States. The minimum capital required is between $500,000 and $1,000,000, depending on the employment rate in the geographic area.

C. USA Diversity Immigrant Visa Lottery (USA Green Card Lottery)

The Diversity Lottery makes available a maximum of 50,000 immigrant visa numbers annually to persons selected at random from countries with low rates of immigration to the United States. There is a separate registration for each year’s visas. Information on registration for the lottery is announced each year by the State Department.


Certain applicants such as priority workers, investors, certain special immigrants, and diversity immigrants can petition on their own behalf. All others must have a relative or potential employer petition for them.

Temporary Visas


The U.S. attracts many foreign nationals to its diverse and strong institutions of learning. The F-1 Visa (Academic Student) allows one to enter the U.S. as a full-time student at an accredited (U.S. Government approved) college or university. The student must be enrolled in a program or course of study which culminates in a degree, diploma, or certificate. The M-1 Visa (Vocational Student) is issued to students who want to pursue non-academic programs (health care technician, machinist, dental hygienist etc.) in an established institution. The J-1 Visa (Exchange Student) is for students pursuing graduate / post-graduate studies, visiting scholars, medical doctors undergoing training etc.


Temporary workers (H and L Visas) can work in the U.S. after a petition is submitted by the employer-to-be in the United States and is approved by the INS.  H1B Visas (for Specialty Occupations) are given to college-educated professionals (e.g. software programmers). On this Visa, they can work for a total of 6 years in the U.S.  H1C Visas are for Registered Nurses, H2B for Non Agricultural Workers, H-3 for Trainees. The L Visa is for Intra- Company Transferees who are executives or managers of foreign-based companies or who are essential, specialized knowledge employees.


My girlfriend is loving her time in Miami, she’s currently working in a law firm.  She’s getting hands on training and enhancing her skill by being exposed to the law structure in the US which is different from what she studied in London.  If you fall under one of the options above you have a good chance in acquiring a Visa like my girlfriend.  The key is good planning and dedicating a reasonable time frame for relocation plans as the process may sometimes be lengthy and expensive, however reviewing the options and proceeding according to the guidelines will definitely pay off. Finally, to eliminate errors which can unnecessarily prolong the application process, I recommend dealing with a law firm that specializes in Visas (click on link for a listing). 

Related Categories: Miami: Local News, Miami: Travel News,

Mike Vietz

See more articles by Mike V.

See more articles by Mike V

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3 Comments on

"US Visa Options for Visitors, Students & Workers"

Appointment says:

Good post that can be very useful for would-be applicants.

Posted on 01/10/2010 at 10:43 PM

Ghanian says:

Like. Maimi. Beach. To. Much

Posted on 07/19/2015 at 7:15 AM

niven harry says:

J1 Visa students form India. We wanted to change the status of our students from J1 to long term status.

Posted on 01/13/2016 at 5:46 AM

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