Immigration Law: What is the difference between an “Immigrant” and a “Non-Immigrant” Visa?

There are two broad categories of Visas that are available to an Alien who wants to travel to the United States – one type is an “Immigrant Visa” and another is a “Non-Immigrant Visa.” Of Course, there are many subsets of these two broad categories. So what is the difference between the two? Well, it depends on whether the alien is intending to come to the United States to live permanently, or whether the alien is intending to stay in the country for a period of time, but not indefinitely. An alien would apply for an “Immigrant Visa” if the person is intending to come live in the US permanently. An alien would apply for a non-immigrant visa if the person is intending to come to the country for a particular task or reason and then return to their country of residence. An example of a non-immigrant visa would be any of the following: (a) Student visa, (b) temporary or seasonal work visa, (c) travel visa for vacationing here, and so on. Contrast those with some typical Immigrant visa categories: (a) refugee or asylum visa, (b) finance visa, (c) immediate family member visa. Obviously the last few categories are normally applied for with the intent that the person applying will ultimately stay in the United States indefinitely. For example, the finance visa is designed to allow US citizens or Legal permanent Residents (LPRs) to bring over their finances and marry here. The idea is that after marriage the couple will live permanently in the US with his or her spouse. We hope that this basic concept helps people understand on an elevated level where to begin when thinking of the type of visa to apply for.

Chart of INS Application and Petition Fees

INS Application and Petition Fees
I-17 Petition for Approval of School for Attendance by Nonimmigrant Students
I-90 Application to Replace Alien Registration Card (“Green Card”) $110
I-102 Application for Replacement/Initial Non-immigrant Arrival-Departure Document (I-94) $85
I-29L Petitions for Nonimmigrant Workers $110
I-129F Petition for Alien Fiancé $95
I-130 Petition for Alien Relative $110
I-131 Application for Travel Document $95
I-140 Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker $115
I-191 Application for Advance Permission to Return to Unrelinquished Domicile $170
I-192 Application for Advance Permission to Enter As a Nonimmigrant $170
I-193 Application for Waiver of Passport and/or Visa $170
I-212 Application for Permission to Reapply for Admission into the United States After Deportation or Removal $170
I-485 Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status $220
I-526 Immigrant Petition by Alien Entrepreneur $350
I-539 Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status $120
I-600 Petition to Classify Orphan As an Immediate Relative $405
I-601 Application for Waiver on Grounds of Excludability $170
I-612 Application for Waiver of the Foreign Residence Requirement of Section 212(e) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, As Amended $170
I-751 Petition to Remove Conditions on Residence $125
I-765 Application for Employment Authorization $100
I-817 Application for Voluntary Departure Under the Family Unity Act $120
I-824 Action on an Approved Application or Petition $120
I-829 Petition by Entrepreneur to Remove Conditions on Residence $345
N-400 Application for Naturalization $225
N-565 Application for Replacement of Naturalization/Citizenship Certificate $135
N-600 Application for Certificate of Citizenship $160
N-643 Application for Certificate of Citizenship in Behalf of an Adopted Child

Immigration Law: How can I adjust my status if my abusive husband won’t help me petition?

It is a common problem for abused spouses who are admitted to the US on a finance visa – they are abused by the husband who is a US citizen or Legal Permanent Resident and he will not petition the USCIS to adjust the new wife’s status to that of an LPR. Often the abuser spouse would use the petition process as leverage to further control the immigrant wife and the wife was helpless as she needed the abuser husband’s assistance in petitioning for LPR status. The good news is that the US government addressed this issue a few years back in the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). The VAWA has a provision where the abused fiance (or wife) can “self-petition” for an adjustment of her status. Therefore, if any immigrant woman is currently suffering from an abusive husband, she is no longer at his will as to whether she will ultimately be granted LPR status. She simply needs to go see an immigration attorney and he or she can assist the woman in adjusting her status without the cooperation of the abusive husband…