Immigration Q&A: How can I get a visa to live in the U.S.?
“I'M a 27-year-old Irish citizen, living and working in London as a freelance television producer. I would dearly love to relocate to the U.S., but am struggling to find anyone who can offer me advice as to whether it is possible for me to emigrate. I'm an Irish citizen through my grandmother, but was born in England. I did not have a higher education as I wanted to start working in television as soon as possible. I'm not married and have no children. I have no criminal record.
“I really hope you'll be able to offer me some advice, as moving to America is something I have been thinking about for a while.”
We've answered letters similar to yours before, and it’s not surprising that there’s been an uptick of “how can I come to America” questions in the past weeks and months, given the state of economic affairs in Ireland and, indeed, globally.
The short answer is that your quest to legally reside in the U.S. won’t be easy. There are basically three ways in which someone can do so – via a close family connection, employment offer, or being selected in the annual DV-1 green card lottery.
Regarding the lottery, as you were born and presumably raised in England, you would not be eligible to take part in the lottery. Natives of the U.K. (Northern Ireland being the exception) cannot apply for one of the 50,000 green cards annually on offer because of the relatively high number of legal immigrants coming here from the U.K.
However, this fact is really nothing to get upset over. Millions and millions from all over the world apply for the green cards each year, and actually being selected is akin to hitting the lottery. In other words, the DV-1 lottery is not something that anyone should pin their hopes on.
Now to the U.S. family connection. You don’t mention any U.S. relatives so we’ll assume there are none.
Immediate relatives of U.S. citizens – unmarried children under 21, parents of citizens aged over 21, and, of course, a spouse of a citizen – can immigrate quicker and easier than other eligible citizen family members, which include siblings of citizens, and married children.
Then there’s the employment option, which would likely be your best bet. This can be done on an immigrant basis – i.e., having a U.S. employer sponsor you for a green card – or as a non-immigrant, when a U.S. employer acts as a sponsor for a temporary visa.
You’ll notice that in both instances, a U.S. sponsor is imperative. As far as coming here as an immigrant, it would be next to impossible as the employment-based green card categories -- barring only one that is reserved for “unskilled” workers but has a years-long waiting list – require at least a college bachelor’s degree.