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How Soon Can I Apply for Citizenship in America After Obtaining a Visa?

Many people that come to the United States do so with a visa that allows them to live in the United States and enjoy many of the same rights and freedoms as naturalized citizens of the United States.

A visa though, is not the same as a green card, and unless you have a specific work visa, you may not be able to work in the United States.

The other big difference between a visa and a green card is that visas do expire – green cards allow a person to stay in the United States as long as they wish as long as they don’t break certain laws and meet basic requirements for continued eligibility.

While it can be difficult to become a United States citizen if you only have a visa, there are a few ways you can attempt to get a green card and become a permanent resident of the United States.

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Work Opportunities

If you have a visa that allows you to work in the United States, it can be much easier to become a permanent citizen if you’re sponsored by your employer. Typically, only highly-skilled or unique positions are sponsored by employers.

Examples of these jobs could include anything in the medical profession, technology field or in specific fields like architecture or industrial design.

If you are working in the United States and your employer is willing to sponsor you so that you can remain in the United States and continue working after your visa expires, contact the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) office for more information about filing the appropriate paperwork.

Diversity Visa Program

The diversity visa program, sometimes referred to as the green card lottery, is a program put in place by the USCIS to help people from countries with low rates of immigration to the United States come here to work and live.

Unlike other visa and green card programs, diversity visa candidates do not need a United States sponsor in order to apply.

However, people entering the United States through the diversity visa program do need to meet certain basic requirements. In most cases, people applying for this program will need to provide an affidavit of support from a public official or religious leader, copy of their birth certificate and police record, and pass a basic medical examination.

Diversity visa applicants will also be interviewed by the USCIS before they are accepted to the program.

How Long Will It Take?

The process of filing for a green card or permanent residency through these different methods can be somewhat time consuming, and there is often a considerable processing time because of the amount of applications the USCIS receives.

The short answer is that there’s no exact time-frame, but the USCIS will do what they can to process your application before your visa expires in many cases.

Filing the appropriate paperwork, especially if you need to stay in the country for work, can be difficult and time consuming.

Consider working with a qualified company that can help you file the paperwork in a timely manner and get your application on the fast-track.

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