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Though every situation is unique, our clients share many common worries and concerns. Our experienced team provides answers to our most frequently asked questions to provide peace of mind and confidence to move forward with your legal case.
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What is the difference between an A and G visa?
The United States offers many opportunities for relationships with foreign governments and international organizations. Through business and diplomacy, the U.S. often opens its doors to welcome individuals who travel here for official international purposes, and the visa system reflects this wide range of opportunity. The two main types of visas for foreigners wishing to come to the U.S. as part of their duties with a government or other organization are the A and G visas. So, how does one know which visa is appropriate for which situation? Here, we explore these visas and the differences between them.
What Is an A Visa?
An A visa is considered a diplomatic visa for diplomats and officials of foreign governments traveling to the United States on official business for their national government. Those who typically need an A visa include heads of state or government, those coming to serve at an embassy or consulate, a government minister or cabinet member, and European Union or African Union delegation representatives. Typically, an A visa is obtained only for the purpose of official business. In one key exception, any head of state must obtain an A-1 visa regardless of the purpose of their visit to the U.S.
What Is a G Visa?
A G visa is also obtained for official business purposes. G visas are for diplomats, government officials, and employees who will work for an approved international organization while they are in the U.S. There are four main classifications of G visas, which cover a range of international employees and the various types of organizations.
How Do I Know Which Type of Visa I Need?
Most non-immigrant visas in the U.S. system are dependent on the purpose of the visit, so it can become confusing to know whether an A or G visa is appropriate. Both are specifically for the purpose of conducting official international business. There are some key differences between the two, however. To help determine which visa is appropriate, the following questions can be helpful:
Who is sending you? Employees of organizations that are not official governments would require a G visa. If you will be representing your home country’s government, an A visa would be necessary.
Are you a head of state or government? Such individuals always require an A visa.
What will you be doing? Military personnel would fall under the G-visa category, while anyone traveling for tourism or commercial purposes would not be eligible for an A nor a G visa.
Does the American government officially recognize your country or organization? If you are traveling from a country without de jure recognition from the U.S., you would not qualify for an A visa and would need to secure a G visa instead. Additionally, if your home country is not a member of the organization for which you will be working, you would need a G visa.
Is your travel related to IMF or World Bank? Matters related to IMF and World Bank would fall under the G visa category.
What type of visa is required for the primary visa holder? If you are an immediate family member of the primary visa holder, you would need to apply for the same type of visa as the primary holder. If, for example, your father is the primary visa holder and has obtained an A-1 visa, you also should apply for an A visa.
In general, there are stricter requirements for an A visa, as this type of visa is accompanied by more benefits than a G visa. Additionally, both visas address those employed by international organizations or governments. Local organizations or government officials are not eligible to obtain these types of visas.
If you need to visit the U.S. to conduct official business on behalf of your government or organization, the experienced immigration lawyers at Tucker, Nong & Associates can help you secure the documentation you need. Our skilled legal team understands the system and can help you ensure that your stay will smooth and legal. Take a moment to fill out our online contact form to learn more and schedule a free, no-obligation consultation.
What are the benefits of an EB-5 visa?
An EB-5 investment visa is one of many options available to immigrants to gain lawful status to live and work in the United States. This type of visa is aimed at foreign investors in American businesses. To obtain an EB-5 visa, investors must invest either $500,000 or $1,000,000 (depending on location) into an American business and work with that business over the next two years to create or retain 10 jobs. While it does require a significant investment, it can allow an investor, his spouse, and eligible children to pursue a quicker, more efficient path to citizenship and the opportunities that the American dream embodies. Over the past few years, the popularity of this type of visas has grown. In each of the last two years, the government has issued nearly the full 10,000 EB-5 investment visas allotted. While many of these investors have come from China, investors from all over the world have taken advantage of the program. For both those investors wishing to live and work in the U.S. and Americans at home, the EB-5 investment visa program offers a number of distinct advantages.
Advantages of an EB-5 Visa for Foreign Investors
For many immigrants wishing to move to the United States, following a lawful immigration path can be time consuming and tedious. An EB-5 visa offers a number of benefits to immigrants, including:
Lawful status in the U.S. Obviously this is the main goal of the majority of foreign investors who apply for an EB-5 visa. The visa allows the investor, and their spouses and qualifying children, a legal path to live, work, and study in the U.S.
Quicker path to permanent residence and citizenship. In many cases, the EB-5 visa can facilitate the path to permanent residence faster than other types of visas and green cards. The initial conditions of the visa can be removed after two years. Additionally, immigrants with an EB-5 visa may be eligible for citizenship in as little as 5 years after achieving permanent resident status.
No visa sponsorship requirement. An EB-5 visa investor essentially acts as his own sponsor. There are no requirements outside the investment in an American business. They do not have to be sponsored by any American and group.
Monetary return on investment. Though many of the investments serve only to help the investor gain entry into the U.S., the right investment can lead to profits and further income for the investor. The initial investment can pay off in more than U.S. status.
Freedom to live and work anywhere in the U.S. Though this is not true for all those with an EB-5 visa, many investors have the option to live and work wherever they want. Other types of visas have much more strict requirements, which visa holders must follow or lose status.
Education and employment opportunities for children. The EB-5 investment visa allows the children of the foreign investors to enroll in school, with access to the same education and higher education that citizens enjoy. This includes access to public and private high schools, college, and graduate schools (including medical school or law school). After their education is completed, children have access to the same professional opportunities as any other child in the U.S.
EB-5 Visas Also Benefit the United States and its Citizens
While there are obvious benefits for the foreign investors, granting EB-5 investor visas is also good for those already living and working as U.S. citizens. The EB-5 visa program was started in the early 1990s to help stimulate the economy, and it has since grown and added significant value to the U.S. immigration program. Some benefits for the general population include:
Economic stimulation. Economic growth was the founding principle of the EB-5 investment visa opportunity, and it continues to be the most significant aspect of the program. Foreign investors infuse capital into the economy, both through their investment and once they begin their day-today lives in the U.S. They shop in stores, send their children to U.S. schools, buy homes and houses, and much more.
Job creation. The EB-5 visa program requires that each investment create at least 10 new jobs (or in some cases retain 10 jobs). These jobs create more opportunities for Americans to find work.
Improvement to underserved locations. Some investors choose to take advantage of an aspect of the program that targets specific domestic locations and populations that are especially in need of jobs or economic growth. Known as Target Employment Areas, or TEAs, these locations are identified by the government and are typically in rural areas or areas with high unemployment.
Though the EB-5 visa requires a significant investment, it is an excellent option for a faster, more effective path to citizenship for an investor and his family. If you are interested in learning more about obtaining an EB-5 visa for yourself and your family, or even if you are just wondering if it is right for you and your family, don’t hesitate to reach out to the experienced immigration lawyers at Tucker, Nong, & Associates. Call our office in Virginia at (703) 991-7978 or in Maryland at (301) 637-5392 to speak with a member of our legal team and learn more about your options.
What is a U Visa Certification of Helpfulness?
Victims of serious crimes may apply for a U visa, which grants temporary, legal status in the United States. You may apply for a U visa if you have been a serious crime victim and are assisting U.S. enforcement agencies with an investigation or prosecution. In order to qualify for a U visa, you will need to have a completed and valid U visa certification. U visas are similar to other visas. Before proceeding, it is important to learn the difference between U visas and T visas. To learn if you are eligible for a U visa, visit our page:
What is U Visa Certification?
To apply for a U visa, you must complete form l-918, Petition for U Nonimmigrant Status, for the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). In addition, you must have a document, known as a “Certification of Helpfulness” or U Visa Certification, indicating that a law enforcement official has approved your request.
If you wish to apply for a U visa or need to know more about the Certification of Helpfulness, call our office or send a message online to tell us about your case. We can explain your options and will assist you through the entire process.
Which Agencies and Officials May Complete the Certification?
Certification for a U visa is generally completed by local, state, or federal police departments and prosecutors. However, any state or federal agency with the “responsibility for the investigation or prosecution of a qualifying crime or criminal activity” may complete the Certification of Helpfulness.
How Law Enforcement Determines if You Are “Helpful” to the Criminal Case
Although the law does not specifically define what is considered “helpfulness” to law enforcement in the investigation and prosecution of serious crimes, USIS does provide guidelines to agencies that certify U visa applications. You may be considered “helpful” if you:
- Are a victim of and have information about a qualifying crime
- Have given such information to or are currently assisting law enforcement
- Are able to provide useful information in the future that may aid in the investigation and/or prosecution of involved criminals
- Have not refused a reasonable request or cooperation
Law enforcement can decide whether or not you are helpful to them and whether they should grant you the Certification of Helpfulness.
What Type of Information is Helpful?
Law enforcement agencies are interested in the many ways your information will aid the investigation and prosecution of those who victimized you. The more details you can provide, the better are your chances that an official will complete a Certification of Helpfulness. You can best indicate your interest in bringing the perpetrators to justice by being as forthcoming as possible with details and evidence about the crime. This could include but is not limited to providing:
- Identification of the criminals involved, such as names and addresses, or participation in a lineup demonstration
- Information that could help to apprehend the perpetrators, such as places they may be “hiding out,” names of family and friends who may have information about their locations
- Details about vehicles they may be using.
- Details that help the prosecution convince a jury that the accused is guilty of the crime, refute the criminal’s alibi
- Give support to the motive for committing the crime, or help to determine what penalty or sentencing should be requested
- Evidence that could help the prosecution to upgrade the seriousness of the crime or could lead to charging the involved criminals with other crimes
- Agreement to testify as a witness if the case goes to trial
Why You Should Work With an Immigration Lawyer
Many – but not all – agencies agree to provide a Certification of Helpfulness at the start of an investigation in order to obtain credible evidence as well as a potential witness. They do so because they know you will be unable to obtain a U visa without the certification Unfortunately, there are situations when law enforcement does not treat an individual fairly. It is important to work with an immigration lawyer to make sure you are not taken advantage of by law enforcement and that your rights are protected.
We Are Ready to Help You!
In some circumstances, a police officer or prosecutor could use your need for certification to make you an unwilling witness or participant in an investigation, such as wearing a wire to obtain information. For your own protection, you should have an experienced immigration attorney or advocate who is familiar with U visas at your side. Call Tucker, Nong and Associates today to learn if U visas and U visa certifications – we are here to help you.