Douglas Adams wrote in his book The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy about the Vogon species, “[An order must be}… signed in triplicate, sent in, sent back, queried, lost, found, subjected to public enquiry, lost again, and finally buried in soft peat for three months and recycled as firelighters.” Although it is satire and intended to be humorous, it is not that far off from the complicated process involved in obtaining a work visa for entering the United States. According to the U.S. Department of State – Bureau Of Consular Affairs, Work Visas Department, there are over 25 different non immigration visas available for people looking to work in the United States temporarily, plus many more available to the workers who look to obtain permanent residence in the United States. With each visa type having another set of paperwork that needs filled out, it’s easy to see how, even with an immigration lawyer’s help, someone could get confused along the application process. So it is important to examine this process fully, from having a sponsor file the petition, to properly filling out the appropriate paperwork, and then finally having your visa approved.


The First Step in Obtaining a Work Visa

Find a sponsor in the United States to file a petition on the immigrant’s behalf. A sponsor has to be either a relative who is a United States Citizen or permanent United States resident, or a prospective employer. The sponsor is the person who is financially responsible for the soon to be permanent resident. For a family member of the incoming resident, it means having to be able to provide proof that their income is sufficient enough to maintain a non-poverty lifestyle for themselves and the incoming resident at the same time. For a prospective employer, this means agreeing to provide a living wage to the incoming resident. This validation, as well as information such as relationship to the incoming resident and purpose for sponsorship, is gathered in Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, or Form I-140, Petition for Alien Worker. Once these petitions are filled out entirely, signed, and sent in to either the Phoenix or the Chicago Lockbox Facility, along with a 420$ filing fee, the waiting begins as the USCIS looks over and approves the petition.


The Second Step in Obtaining a Work Visa

Submit all the proper paperwork and filling out all the right legal forms. This step is where an immigration lawyer plays the largest role, helping to fill out the correct legal forms correctly and helping the soon to be permanent resident obtain all the proper personal paperwork. This step requires the immigrant to provide many different personal documents, including their passports, educational documents, resumes, birth certificate, and any visas they may have had in the past. Most visas also requires documents from a trained medical professional, not only clearing the immigrant, medically, to travel, but also providing assurance that the immigrant does not have any diseases that could endanger the American people. This information helps the lawyer choose which visas their client are eligible for. Different visas have different qualifications, varying from geographic distance from the United States, the form of workplace that is being pursued, the level of education of the worker, to the income of the immigrant’s sponsor. The more visas the immigrant is eligible for, the better, because it gives options that they and their lawyer can choose between for the best visa for their situation. This prevents the immigrant from having to pay any additional fees for services that aren’t necessary for their migration.


The Third Step in Obtaining a Work Visa

After working with a lawyer to choose and submit a visa application, only a few steps are left to get into the United States. The first step is an interview with a consular officer at a US embassy or consulate.  These interviews, costing 120 dollars, are the last step to getting the immigrant’s visa application approved. It is important that the immigrant does not sell their possessions or resign from their job until after this interview, because this interview does not guarantee the visa will be approved. In this interview, the consular officer is going to go over all the information on the visa application, double checking the financial documents and the legal documents with the information on the application,  seeking elaboration on any concerning areas, and looking for consistency on any answers that appear suspicious. After the interview is over, the consular officer decides whether or not to approve the visa application. If the visa is approved, the officer will tell the immigrant when they will receive their visa and passport. Now that the visa is approved, the immigrant is clear to travel to the United States. In order to enter the United States, the travel route must first go through a port-of-entry, typically an airport in a border state. At this airport, the department of Homeland Security will look over the documents that came packaged with the visa and approve the immigrant’s entry to the United States.

The steps to getting entry into the United States are numerous, starting at getting a United States citizen to sponsor to sponsor the immigrant, requiring many different documents and fees to be provided and filled out, and finally the travel and approval of the entry to the United States. But once these steps are followed, the immigrants are provided with a life full of opportunity in the United States. Along with an immigration lawyer’s help, this extremely complicated process can be navigated. Now, pertaining to getting an intergalactic visa from the Vogon species, that’s a much more complex process with a much more involved explanation required.