Top 3 Ways to Legally Live in the U.S.

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Today, immigrants make up 13.7% of the US population. As the land of opportunities, the United States continues to attract people from all over the world to pursue the American dream. Have you wondered how you can also legally live in the US? Well, that’s what this article is about. Read on to learn more about the various options available to you.




According to the Pew Research Center, this is the third popular way foreigners get to live and work legally in the United States. However, there are two types; firstly, there’s the non-immigrant visa, which is issued on a temporary basis. Also known as the category J, foreign nationals with impressive abilities or backgrounds in arts, sports, education, or the sciences usually have this visa. Under the non-immigrant visa, there are categories P and B-2, which are reserved for athletes, foreign tourists, vacationers, and lawful pleasure-seekers.

On the other hand, the immigrant visa is usually the first option for most foreign nationals who desire to live permanently in the US. In instances where a non-citizen gains employment in America, the immigrant visa is usually the right choice for this category of people. Family-based options are also captured under these visas. With the exception of thirty-eight countries (which includes Italy, Germany, UK) that don’t require any visa to gain entry here, all others require legal permits.


Family-based immigration


Did you know that each year, the US reserves a total of 226,000 visas, which are made available to family-sponsored applications? This refers to foreign spouses/fiancés and unmarried children (under age 21 years) and widens further to include siblings and parents. For purposes of this article, this point will focus primarily on spousal applications, especially when one party is a foreign national.

It has become quite the norm for non-citizens to apply for legal residency in the US via marriage. For this reason, some foreign nationals have contractual marriage arrangements as a way to fast-track applications for green cards. However, a green card marriage can be lawful or unlawful, depending on how it’s carried out. First of all, it must be bona fide, and a real marital relationship, not one merely arranged to trick immigration officials. Mind you, there are ways and means authorities can detect a marital relationship established only for immigration benefits.














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By far, this is the most sought-after legal status that offers most rights and benefits. If you were born outside the United States, you could still earn legal citizenship by going through the right procedures. If you’re applying as an adult (above 18years), then naturalization is the best way to go. It takes about ten successive months for a US naturalization to be processed. 

However, there are eligibility requirements you must observe as a foreign national. Prominent in these requirements is having lived in the US with a permanent resident’s status for five years minimum. On the other hand, if you’re applying as a US citizen’s spouse, it’s cut down to three straight years. You must also prove your English language proficiency, and appreciable knowledge of American history and government. The essential element of your naturalization is to take the oath of allegiance.

There are other ways not highlighted on this page, but the top ways to live legally in the US are the ones listed here. So, when you’re considering living lawfully and permanently in America, you should know that it’s a thorough process that leaves no room for errors.


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