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Top 4 questions about the visa process answered

State Department answers questions foreign citizens may have about visas.

When immigrants are thinking about working in the U.S. so that they can send money home to their families who live in their native country, one way of going about it is to seeking out a visa.

However, while most immigrants have heard of a visa, they may not be entirely clear about what it does and how it works. To help, the U.S. Department of State has answered several questions people often have about visas.

1. While visas are generally used by people who want to travel to the United States on a temporary basis, there are several visas from which to choose. For instance, non-immigrants need one type of visa, while immigrants needed another. The State Department provides some of examples of visa types for immigrants as well as ones for temporary visitors.

2. Something else that immigrants may be confused about is what a visa actually does. For example, while a visa is the first step to visiting the U.S. legally, it does not necessarily guarantee them entry. What it does do is enables foreign citizens to travel to the U.S. port of entry. From that point, the Department of Homeland Security U.S. Customs and Border Protection authorizes or denies admittance. CBP offers additional admission info on its website.

3. Once foreign citizens have gone through the admission process and everything has been cleared, they may not know the length of time they have to stay in the U.S. According to the State Department, this is generally determined by the U.S. immigration inspector who authorizes or denies entry. What usually happens is the inspector will give the immigrant a Form I-94 – also called an Arrival Departure Record, with a date on it. That date is the time in which immigrants need to go back to their native country or renew their visa so that they can stay longer.

4. Of course, when foreign citizens seek to gain entry into the U.S. by obtaining a visa, their friends or relatives may want to know how the process is going. However, they may not know how they can find that information out. However, because visa application information is a private matter, that information remains confidential. Because of this, friends will need to get in touch with their foreign citizen relative directly and get the status from them, the State Department advises.

The State Department also has additional frequently asked questions foreign nationals may have before beginning the visa application process.

Helpful Links:

Types of visas for temporary visitors
Visa types for immigrants

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