U.S. Immigration Law

In co-operation with our partner law firms in the U.S., we will design your professional visa strategy.
Since the law firm is represented in both countries, you can profit from the expertise and know how of American immigration lawyers as well as from contact partners in Germany who carefully examine your application documents. We are available to answer any questions and to produce appropriate documentation in a timely and efficient manner.

The United States of America has two main categories of visas:

1. Permanent Visas (Immigrant Visa)
This visa, often called the “Green Card” entitles you to a permanent stay and work permit in the U.S.

2. Temporary Visas (Non-Immigrant Visa)
In contrast to the “Green Card”, all visas of this category are temporary. They are issued to allow an applicant to realize specific plans such as working or studying in the U.S. for a certain amount of time.

These are the main Non-Immigrant Visas:

Business & Tourist Visitors (B1 & B2 Visa)
The B visa enables foreign nationals to travel to the U.S. temporarily for business or vacation purposes. Such trips may not involve employment or studying, and the length of stay may be up to one year. Note that nationals of countries participating in the Visa Waiver Pilot Program may enter the U.S. without a visa and stay for a period of up to 90 days. This applies for the citizens of most of the Western European Countries. However, if one enters under the Visa Waiver program, a change of status to other non-immigrant or immigrant categories is not permitted.

Male or Female Registered Nurses (H-1A Visa)
Foreign registered nurses with an employment offer from the U.S. may qualify for this visa.

Professionals (H-1B Visa)
The H-1B visa is the most popular temporary work visa for professionals. It is in extremely high demand. To qualify for a H-1B visa, a foreign national must have:

Recognized occupational groups for this visa category might include architecture, commercial arts, education, engineering, finance, marketing, computer/information technology, law, mathematics & sciences, medicine & health, editing, research, etc.
Fashion models of outstanding merit and ability may also obtain H-1B status. They must show that they are well known either nationally or internationally to obtain an H-1B visa. There are annual quotas under this visa category. 

Agricultural Workers (H-2A Visa)
Temporary foreign workers performing agricultural services unavailable in the U.S may qualify for a H-2A visa.

Workers for other business branches (H-2B Visa)
Non-agricultural workers will receive this visa if they have a concrete offer of employment in a branch that has a shortage of workers.

Trainees (H-3 Visa)
People who show a concrete offer from an American enterprise or state institution to take part in an on-the-job training program are qualified for this visa. The training program has to meet with certain criteria in order to be accepted by the immigration authorities. The overall length of stay is up to 2 years.

Intra-Company Transferee (L-1 Visa)
Managers, executives or individuals with “highly-specialized knowledge” who have worked for a company outside of the U.S. for at least one of the immediately preceding 3 years may be transferred to that company’s U.S. branch or affiliate for a period up to five (for “specialized knowledge”) to seven (for executives and managers) years. Non-immigrant status may later be converted to a Green Card.

Treaty Traders (E-1 Visa)
An alien (spouse and child) coming to the U.S. solely to carry on substantial trade, including trade in services or technology, principally between the U.S. and the foreign state of which the alien is a national may qualify for an E-1 Visa.         

Treaty Investors (E-2 Visa)
E-2 visas are provided for aliens (spouse and child) coming to the U.S. solely to develop and direct the operations of an enterprise in which the alien is actively in the process of investing a substantial amount of capital.

Exceptionally talented people (O-1 Visa)
The O visa is for foreign nationals who can exhibit "extraordinary ability" in the arts, sciences, education, business or athletics and for those accompanying or assisting them.  

Representatives of Foreign Information Media (I Visa)
This visa is provided for representatives of foreign press, radio, or film. It is generally issued for one year and renewable indefinitely. 
Students (F-1 & M-1 Visa)
Students who plan to study in the U.S. must apply for a student visa. There are two different types of visas:

In order to obtain a F-1 visa, you must first be accepted by a school, college, or university that has been accredited by the INS to enroll foreign students.
You can obtain a F-1 visa as well when you attend a grammar school, junior high or high school.

Exchange Visitors (J-1 Visa)
In general, this category is open to foreign students, au pairs, scholars, doctors, medical students, business and industrial trainees and others participating in U.S. government-approved programs for gaining experience, studying or performing research.

Immigrant Visas (“Green Card”)

Regardless of your individual circumstances, the immigrant visa, often called “Green Card”, grants the same rights to everyone. Green Card status allows foreign nationals to permanently reside, work and travel in the U.S., as well as to travel freely in and out of the U.S.(permanent resident status). When a foreign national obtains a Green Card, his/her accompanying spouse (wife or husband) and unmarried children under the age of 21 also obtain green cards. Permanent residence may lead to citizenship in 3 to 5 years.
There are various possibilities of receiving an immigrant visa (Green Card):   

1. Family - Based

United States Citizens may sponsor spouses, parents, children and siblings (brothers or sisters) for permanent residence. Green Card holders may petition only for spouses and children. The availability of a family-based visa is determined by the type of relationship between the petitioner and the beneficiary.

2. Employment - Based

Foreign employees often receive their Green Card through a U.S.-employer willing to file for a Green Card petition on an employee’s behalf. This is an extensive procedure. Employment – based preference categories are subject to a quota limit on the number of Green Cards that can be issued.    

(a) Employment First Preference

Priority workers, including the following three groups:                            

This category does not require a labor certification from the U.S. Department of Labor. 

Labor Certification
Based on an unavailability of U.S. workers in the workforce, a U.S. employer may enable an alien to obtain a Green Card through an offer of employment. In many cases, the job offer alone is not enough to make you eligible for a Green Card. First you must prove that there are no qualified U.S. workers available and willing to take a job. The U.S. agency to whom you must prove this is the U.S. Department of Labor and the procedure for proving it is called Labor Certification. People who fall under the employment second and third preferences usually need Labor Certifications in order to get Green Cards.

(b) Employment Second Preference

This category does require a labor certification from the U.S. Department of Labor, unless the alien is eligible for a National Interest Waiver.        

(c) Employment Third Preference:                                          

This category requires a labor certification by the U.S. Department of Labor.   

(d)  Employment Fourth Preference

This category does not require a labor certification from the U.S. Department of Labor.

(e) Employment Fifth Preference
Individual investors willing to invest $ 1,000,000 in a new or existing U.S. business (or $ 500,000 in economically depressed areas) and creating a certain number of jobs for U.S. citizens or legal immigrants with this investment (without counting the investor and his family) may receive a Green Card without the support of an American employer.

This category does not require a labor certification by the U.S. Department of Labor.                 

Each immigration case is different and requires individual strategies. Contact the German American Law Group, APC for further information and detailed legal advice.
3. Diversity Visa Program

50,000 Green Cards are distributed by the U.S. Immigration authorities by lottery through the Diversity Immigrant Visa Program. Participants must have either 12 years (or more) of education or 2 years experience as a skilled worker. Winners' spouses and children under 21 years of age also receive Green Cards.

GreencardRegistration handles your application. Click here to apply online.


Information on this site is subject to changes in U.S. law. It is general and not case-specific in nature.  Gathering information from this Web site should not be construed as receiving legal advice, and does not establish an attorney-client relationship.