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How to Immigrate to USA: Moving to the USA

Thinking of moving to the USA? The US immigration process can appear confusing for people planning to relocate. From the different visa categories, to the eligibility requirements, and application procedures, sifting through all the information can be difficult. 

This article would walk you through all you need to know to simplify the relocation process. And if at the end of this article, you have any questions or desire a personalized response, feel free to reach out.

Things Worth Knowing When Planning on Moving to the USA   

The United States is located in North America. It is made up of 50 states, a federal district, five major unincorporated territories and some islands. As the third most populous country in the world, it has a population of over 334 million people from different races and ethnicities.

The USA’s geography comprises mountains, forests, deserts, plains, and coastlines. It has a strong economy and military with thriving industries like technology and real estate.

Quick Facts About The USA

  • The Capital of the USA: Washington, D.C
  • Currency: US Dollar (USD)
  • Independence Day: July 4th
  • Ethnicities: Caucasian, Hispanic, African American, Asian, African, Native American
  • Sometimes referred to as: The Land of the Free, The Land of Opportunity

Time Zones in the United States

There are four standard time zones in the United States.

  • Eastern Time (ET): Observed in the East Coast, from Florida to Maine.
  • Central Time (CT): Covers the Midwest to parts of the South.
  • Mountain Time (MT): Observed in the Rocky Mountain States.
  • Pacific Time (PT): Covers the West Coast states and Nevada

Aside these time zones, states like Alaska and Hawaii have their own time zones:

  • Alaska Time (AKDT): One hour behind Pacific Time
  • Hawaii-Aleutian Time (HST): Two hours behind Pacific Time

Different Types of Immigration to the U.S

There are two main ways of immigrating to the United States: the immigrant visas and the non-immigrant visas. The immigrant visas are also known as green cards and they allow holders to live and work permanently in the U.S.

The non-immigrant visas are for temporary stays in the U.S. They often are for specific purposes like tourism, business, or studies.

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Family-Based Green Cards

Family-based green cards are offered to people who have relatives in the U.S. It can be a way to permanently relocate to the U.S if you have close relatives who are U.S citizens or lawful permanent residents. 

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On average, these visas are easier to get compared to employment-based green cards. The two main categories of family-based green cards include the immediate relative visas and the family preference visas.

Immediate relative visas are for spouses, unmarried children under 21, and parents of U.S citizens. The family preference visas are however meant for distant relatives like married children, adult children, or siblings.

Employment-Based Green Cards

These green cards are offered to skilled workers employed by a U.S based company or employee. It is another path to permanent residency  and there are five categories of employment-based green cards.

  • First Preference (EB-1): Priority workers.
  • Second Preference (EB-2): Professionals with exceptional skills or advanced degrees.
  • Third Preference (EB-3): Skilled workers and professionals.
  • Fourth Preference (EB-4): Certain special immigrants
  • Fifth Preference (EB-5): Immigrant investors

Humanitarian Green Cards

These are green cards reserved for people who qualify for refugee or asylum status. They may be granted these visas due to persecution or because they fear persecution in their home country. These cards are often granted after one year of living with the refugee status.

Diversity Lottery Green Cards

The green card lottery or the diversity visas is a program by the U.S Government that grants a limited number of immigrants visas every year. Individuals who benefit from these programs are from countries with low rates of immigration to the U.S. 

The aim is to increase diversity in the immigrant population. Selection is done at random and those selected are given a chance to live and work in the U.S permanently.

Immigration Requirements

The requirements for migrating to the U.S varies depending on the visa you are applying for. 

  • Family-based visas 

These require proof of relationship to the family member sponsoring you, including medical examinations and background checks.

  • Employment-based visas

 To get this visa, you would need to be offered a job by a U.S employer then submit a documentation of your qualifications for the selected category.

  • Humanitarian visas

Refugees and asylum seekers would need to demonstrate their eligibility for the refugee or asylum status based on feared persecution in their home country.

  • Diversity visas

There are no specific requirements for these categories of visas but one must be a native of a target country to qualify.

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Applying for a Visa

The first step in moving to the U.S is applying for a US visa. In general, here are the steps involved:

  1. Decide on the type of Visa you want

What visa category would suit your travel purpose the most? If you are traveling for a temporary stay like for vacation or a business trip, or study, there are temporary visas. For longer stays, you would want to consider permanent residency options.

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  1. Complete the Online Application (DS-160)

After deciding the visa type you would be going for, you would need to fill out the DS-160 online nonimmigrant visa application form and submit your biographical information, travel details, and other data.

  1. Schedule a Visa Interview

Upon submission of your application, next is to schedule a visa interview appointment at the US embassy or consulate in your home country. Wait time for the interview would depend on your location and visa category. 

  1. Gather Required Documents

Get documents like your passport, proof of financial support, and any other required documents ready ahead of your interview.

  1. Attend the Visa Interview

At the interview, the visa officer would review your application and ask questions to determine if you qualify for the visa.

  1. Pay the Visa Application Fee

The fees for the visa application vary according to the visa category. The payment often comes after the interview and can also be before scheduling.  

  1. Await the Visa Decision

Visa processing times are not fixed but you would be notified by the embassy once they decide on your application.

Types of US Visa

  • Non-Immigrant Visas

  • B-1/B-2 Visa (Visitor Visa)
  • F-1 Visa (Student Visa)
  • H-1B Visa (Specialty Occupation Visa)
  • J-1 Visa (Exchange Visitor Visa)
  • Immigrant Visas

  • Family-based visas
  • Employment-based visas
  • Diversity visas
  • Humanitarian visas

Global US Visa Interview Wait Times

After applying for a visa, it is natural to want to know the expected wait time for an interview. Factors that generally affect wait times include the visa category, location, season, and staffing at the US embassy or consulate. As such, there are no fixed times.

However, there are a few things you can do to minimize wait times. You can plan ahead so you finalize visa procedures before your trip. There are also waiver programs that you can check to see if you qualify.

What is a Permanent Resident Card?

The permanent resident card or green card is a document issued by the U.S Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS). It grants foreign nationals the opportunity to live and work in the U.S permanently. 

US Immigration Numbers By Year

The US immigration numbers by year refers to the number of legal immigrants admitted to the United States each year. It is published in an annual yearbook of immigration statistics released by the US citizenship and immigration services.

What are K1 Visas?

K-1 visas are a type of nonimmigrant visas offered to foreign nationals who are engaged to marry a U.S citizen. They are also called the fiance or fiancee visas. They allow the foreign partner to enter the United States to get married within 90 days of arrival. After that, they can apply for a permanent residency.

Immigration Processing Times

This refers to the time taken by the USCIS to approve or deny an application outside of the mailing times and potential paperwork related delays.

Immigration processing times vary based on the form and location and the current workload at the consulate. You can make use of the processing time tool on the USCIS website to calculate the estimated processing time for your specific form and service center.

Legal Ways To Immigrate To The United States

  • Family-based immigration
  • Employment-based immigration
  • Humanitarian programs
  • Diversity visa lottery

Green Card Lottery

The green card lottery is the diversity visa program. It is run by the U.S. Department of State and grants about 55,000 visas annually to individuals from target countries. It is done to diversify the immigrant population in the US. 

The selection is done randomly through a computer-generated lottery system giving anyone from the target country a fair chance of being selected. The application process is generally short and opens around October every year.

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Labor Immigration To America

Every year, skilled foreign nationals move to the United States to work. They are able to achieve their goal of moving to the USA through the various visa categories.  

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There are also employment based immigration cases where the employers may need to obtain a labor certification from the US Department of Labor (DOL). This way, the employers can prove there was an equal opportunity effort to hire local workers before going for skilled foreigners.

What Visa To Open for Employment While Moving To The US?

The most suitable visa to apply for when moving to the USA based on employment would depend on your qualifications and job offer. Be sure to discuss visa options with your employer and where you run into confusion, you can reach out to experienced consultants for support.

E1 visa: priority worker and persons of outstanding talents

This visa category caters to two groups of people. The priority workers and those extraordinary skills. Priority workers include professionals like researchers and multinational managers. 

The group for those with outstanding talent include individuals in science, arts, education, business, and athletics who have achieved international recognition or are in the top of their fields.

E2 Visa: Specialists with higher education and persons with exceptional abilities 

To qualify for a visa in this category, you would have to be an investor or a specialist. Investors must have a thriving business located in the US and worth over $150,000.  

The specialists are professionals with advanced degrees or expertise in a given field looking to develop a business. In this case, what passes as a qualifying business requires an ownership of at least 50%.

E3 Visa: Skilled workers, professionals, and non-skilled employees

The E-3 visa caters to three groups of workers. The workers with skills and at least 2 years of experience, professionals with a bachelor’s degree in a relevant field, and then workers with less than 2 years of industry experience. 

Each category requires a job offer in the US and labor certification with the exception of professionals. It is also a path to permanent residency although it faces long backlogs due to limited yearly visa quotas.

E4 Visa: Certain special applicants

This is the least common visa category for specific treaty traders, investors, and employees. However, to qualify, your home country must have a treaty with the US. 

Also, you must provide proof of your work for a company or significant trade investment in the US. The visa allows for extended stays and can be renewed indefinitely. 

How to find jobs with relocation to the USA

Company Websites

Most multinational corporations with offices in the US advertise jobs that come with relocation packages on their website career pages.

Job Boards

There are some job boards that specialize in posting jobs with relocation opportunities. You can narrow your search by using filters like “relocation” or “visa sponsorship”.

Recruitment Agencies

You can reach out to recruitment agencies that specialize in hiring foreign workers interested in moving to the USA. These agencies can connect you with companies offering relocation packages and guide you through the sponsorship process.


You can also find jobs with provisions for relocation to the US at networking events. Try attending events that are relevant to your industry and build relationships.

Business Immigration

This refers to the process of foreign nationals moving to the United States to establish, manage, or invest in businesses. The US attracts entrepreneurs, investors, and highly skilled professionals who upon relocation to the US contribute to the economy through job creation. 

How To Obtain a Business Visa

  • Identify the category that is right for you

The visa that would suit you the most would depend on your business goals. The E-2 Treaty Investor Visa for instance is a visa for investors from countries with a treaty with the US. It requires a substantial investment in a US business that the investor hopes to manage.

  • Get the required documents

Documents you would be needing include your passport, business plan, proof of investment funds, and financial records. There may be other requirements depending on the category.

  • Invest In Your Business

Follow the investment process outlined in your chosen visa category and make the investment.

  • Submit a Visa Application

Complete the appropriate visa application form and submit it with supporting documents and fees to the US embassy in your home country.

  • Attend a Visa Interview

You would be required to attend an interview with the US consular officer to assess your eligibility as well as your proposed business plans. 

  • Await the Visa Decision

The consular officer would then review your application and decide on your visa issuance. 

If you are considering this route for relocation to the US and you are unsure of how to navigate the process, you can use the help of the consultants with experience of how the system works

Relocation to the USA to study 

The US is a dream destination for many. It offers a great educational experience with lots of career opportunities post graduation. If you are planning on relocating or moving to the USA via study route, you would first need to apply for the F-1 student visa. 

In addition, you would need to be accepted by a school in the USA and provide proof of financial support. To start, you can research schools with programs you are interested in, take the standardized tests, and apply. 

Obtaining an entry permit

Visas are also called entry permits. Obtaining an entry permit involves a couple of steps. First, you have to research the visa type that suits your needs. Next, fill an application form and gather the required documents like passport and proof of funds. 

Then, submit the application with the fees to the US embassy in your home country, attend the visa interview and wait for the visa decision. 

Legal Residence in the United States After Studying

It is not uncommon to transition to legal residence after studying in the US but this would require a work permit. To get this, you need an employer to sponsor an H-1B visa or a work visa in your field.

If you perform well in your field and maintain employer sponsorship, you would be able to apply for a green card via the employment based route.

Best Cities to Live in The USA

Below are 10 best cities to live in the US:

  1. Austin, Texas
  2. Seattle, Washington
  3. Portland, Oregon
  4. San Diego, California
  5. Raleigh-Durham, North
  6. Minneapolis-Saint Paul, Minnesota
  7. Boston, Massachusetts
  8. Atlanta, Georgia
  9. Honolulu, Hawaii
  10. Denver, Colorado

Renting vs. buying

The choice of whether to rent or buy would depend upon your long term relocation goals. With renting, there is flexibility especially if you want the option of being able to change location. It also comes with monthly costs that are predictable and little to no maintenance responsibility. 

However, when you buy, you get to build equity and benefit from future appreciation. Though this would require a downpayment and careful financial planning.

Renting Property in the USA 

When renting a property in the USA, factors to consider include proximity to work, amenities, and pet policies. There are apartments, condos, and houses available for rent depending on your interests. Landlords generally require credit checks and security deposits.

Buying a House in the States

To buy a house in the states, you would first need to secure your visa then make research on neighborhoods of interest. Next you get pre-approved for a mortgage, find a reliable realtor and then begin your inspections. 

US Property Prices: Most and Least Expensive States

The cost of housing in the US varies widely. You can find a home on the low side of $160,000 and on the high side of $850,000. When it comes to state housing costs, houses in cities like Hawaii are known to be pricier and more affordable options in cities like West Virginia.

Marriage to an American citizen

Marrying a US citizen can be a route to getting a green card but it does not guarantee immediate citizenship. You would need to follow the typical process and apply for a spousal visa. Then if you fulfill the requirements for permanent residency, it would be granted.

Family Reunification 

This is also a means of moving to the US. It allows close relatives of US citizens and permanent residents to relocate to the US, ensuring families can live together. Those who qualify include spouses, parents, unmarried children under 21, and some adult children. Though the process is typically lengthy, it is a path to permanent residence in the US.

Political Asylum

Political asylum status is a legal status. It is granted by the US to people who fear persecution in their home country due to race, religion, nationality, or beliefs. It offers such individuals protection and a path to permanent residence.

Relocation by a Tourist Visa

The tourist visa is meant for a temporary stay and not permanent residence. As such, one cannot move to the US with a tourist visa and would have to explore other permanent residence options.

How a Family With a Child can Immigrate to the United States

A family with a child planning on moving to the USA can do so with the US citizen relative sponsorship program or the employment based options.

Costs of U.S. Immigration 

The cost of US Immigration can vary widely. The things you would have to pay for include government fees, medical exams, and lawyer assistance. On average, this can cost between $4,000 and $12,000.

Opening an US Bank Account

There are several options you can explore when opening a US bank account. Although you would need to provide a valid US address, social security number, and a minimum deposit.

Getting a Job In The States 

Although the US job market is quite competitive, you can get a job with effort and determination. Put your resume together highlighting your strengths and submit to roles offering visa sponsorship. Follow up, attend Interviews, and wait for an offer.

US Education System

The education system in the US follows the K-12, that is elementary to high school, and then college. The K-12 is funded by local governments. For college, there are private and public options with the public options offering lower tuition.

Choosing Health Insurance

When selecting a US health insurance, you need to consider your needs. If you’re still quite young and healthy, the high deductible plans with lower premiums may be better suited. However, if you would be needing more coverage, plans with lower deductibles and higher premiums may be a better fit.

American Public Transport

Public transport in major cities in the US differs greatly from public transport in suburbs and rural areas. Major cities have subways, buses, and light rail while the rural areas rely mostly on cars.

US Culture and History

The United States has come a long way with a history filled with revolutions, civil rights struggles, and technological advancement. The country has attracted lots of immigrants from around the world, contributing largely to its diverse culture.

Shipping to the USA

The cost of shipping to the USA depends on the weight and dimensions of the material being shipped as well the speed. Popular choices for shipment include DHL, FedEx, UPS, and National Postal Services. 

Living In The U.S. As An Immigrant

Life as an immigrant in the US comes with rewards and challenges. Some of the challenges you may encounter include the change in culture and being away from loved ones. However, the rewards often outweigh the challenges as you get a chance to build a new life in the land of opportunities!


Moving to the US is a dream for many and while relocating to the USA can be a hectic process, the moving tips in this article can offer a smooth landing. Where you run into difficulty either with planning, visa, immigration, or other issues, our consultants at IBS consulting would be here to help. 

We have helped many settle into some of the best cities in the USA and we can help you too. Book a free consultation here.

Frequently Asked Questions About Immigrating to the U.S.

Is it hard to move to the USA?

Moving to the USA as a foreign country can be tasking but very achievable with the right support.

How much money do you need to immigrate to the USA?

You would need between $2000 and $8000, depending on your visa category.

Is it a good idea to move to the USA?

This would depend on your priorities as moving to the USA offers rewards but there may also be challenges.

What are the requirements to move to the USA?

The requirements needed for moving to the USA would depend on your visa category.

How much money do you need to relocate to the USA?

Relocation to the USA can cost you several thousands of dollars, for initial expenses and visa fees.

How difficult is it to move to the USA?

Moving to the USA can be challenging. How difficult it would be depends on your chosen path.

How to legally move to the United States?

Moving to the US legally requires a visa.

What to do when moving to the USA?

You can make housing arrangements and read up to acquaint yourself with the new culture.

How much money do you need to move across the US?

The cost of moving to the US can range from $2,000 to $15,000 in your checking account.

What do you need to do when moving states?

Moving states involves updating your addresses, transferring utilities, or getting a new driver’s license.

How to move across the country in the USA?

Plan, budget, pack, rent a truck or buy plane tickets, then hit the road. Make sure to search online for the best moving services and compare costs. Be prepared for some culture shock if you’re moving to a different region, as American culture can vary widely across the country. You might also want to explore the entertainment industry in your new city and understand how the income tax regulations might affect you. If you’re renting a new place, ensure you have the necessary funds for a security deposit.

How can I immigrate to the USA?

You can immigrate to the USA legally through visa sponsorship, the green card lottery, or the refugee/asylum status. Once you receive your visa, you will need to coordinate with the national visa center for further processing and documentation. After arriving in the USA, it’s important to visit the local social security office to obtain your Social Security Number.

What are the 5 requirements to become a U.S. citizen?

You must be a green card holder, pass an English and Civics test, be present for a certain duration, and swear an oath of allegiance. Additionally, you will need a valid passport and might be required to undergo a medical exam. For students, having student visas is crucial, and understanding the role of private institutions in your education can be beneficial. It’s also important to acclimate to American culture and might be helpful to get involved in community activities to ease the transitio.

Who can sponsor me in the USA?

A US citizen or permanent resident can sponsor you.

What are the types of visas for the USA?

Non-immigrant visas i.e temporary visa for temporary stays and immigrant visas for permanent stays.

How do I get a visa for the United States?

Decide on your visa category, complete an online application, submit the needed documents, and attend the interview.

How long can parents stay on visitor visa in USA?

Parents can typically stay on a visitor visa in the USA for up to six months.

How to get a work visa for USA?

You need to get a job offer from a US employer offering visa sponsorship.

How soon can I ‘re enter the usa on tourist visa?

It’s often best to wait at least 6 months.

How much is a visa to USA?

The visa application fee ranges between $185 to $315.

What is EB3 visa in USA?

The EB-3 visa is a green card option for skilled workers, professionals, and other workers. As such green card holders can continue working out on the rest of the application.

How hard is it to get a tourist visa to the USA from philippines?

The success of your visa application depends on the details provided.

What is J1 visa in USA?

The J-1 visa grants foreign visitors the chance to participate in exchange programs in the US for study, teaching, research, or cultural exchange. 

How much is a tourist visa to USA

The application fee for a US tourist visa is $185.

What is L1 visa in USA?

The L-1 visa enables foreign companies to transfer managers, executives, or specialized employees to their US branch offices. 

How long does it take to bring spouse to USA with citizenship?

Bringing a spouse to the US with citizenship can take anywhere from 10 to 27 months.

What is TN visa in USA?

The TN visa allows citizens of Canada and Mexico to work in specific professions in the US.

How to extend B1/B2 visa in USA?

You can’t extend the b1/b2 visa in the USA but you can apply for a new visa in your home country.

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