Visa or green card

If you have a friend in a different country, say Canada, and you want them to be able to come to the US for an indefinate period of time but be able to work, and such, if they felt like it, what is the best procedure? And I mean inexpensive, basically and extended visit. I’ve heard you have to apply before leaving the country or they send you back to start over. What’s the procedure. I know nothing about imigration laws and rules, so, basic info is what I’m looking for.

Get a lawyer!

The red tape involved is far to thick for we mere mortals to sever.

Elmer J. Fudd,
I own a mansion and a yacht.

Well, maybe that’s an easy way out, but I live in Texas and the place is crawling with Mexican imigrants that can barely afford clothes, yet, have green cards or at least are legal to hire and aren’t just visiting. So, what’s the deal? To come here to stay and get a descent job, you need to pay a lawyer several thousand dollars to fill out the paperwork, but to come here and stay and dig ditches is easy?

I work in the hotel industry and we have lots and lots of foreign immigrants. They come from all over are legal and have no trouble getting a green card.

So, markxxx, do you know if the process starts after they arrive or is it started before they leave thier country. And how long can they stay here?

Here ya go, Jim B.

BTW; I sure don’t to “dig ditches” for those shitty wages. Around here it’s mostly service work. Like in Markxxx’s industry. None of us native boys and girls want to buss tables, it seems.

Work like you don’t need the money…
Love like you’ve never been hurt…
Dance like nobody’s watching! …(Paraphrased)

Thanks, mangeorge. I really wasn’t trying to be demeaning, just draw a contrast. In another thread they were talking of the thousands of dollars and lawyers to get visas and green cards were more involved. I just felt there was an easier way. I know the service workers can’t afford all that. Sorry if I offended.

I work at manufacturer in Wisconsin; part of my job is handling visas and green cards for the significant number of non-Americans we permanently employ.

If you’re applying by yourself, yes, you sit outside the country and send papers after papers after papers to the INS, after which you might be denied.

If you do it the way my company does it, you come and start work, and the company lawyers (who have a flat rate for visas) start the paperwork. You’re labelled a consultant for the six months it takes to fill out the paperwork properly, and no income taxes are deducted, though you’re liable for them and all the trouble not paying can get you, so choose carefully whether or not to report that income. If company lawyers are handling it, you’re almost guaranteed approval, since they know exactly how to fill in the blanks. After that, you’re an papered employee.

Flat rates range up to about $3000, but none of the aggravation is yours. You legally don’t have to be outside of the country, but if you’re working without a visa, you’re breaking the law. It’s a relatively minor infraction with little chance of getting caught if you’re not Mexican (or some other group the INS watches closely), but you’re risking a permanent mark on a file at the INS which could forever fuck up getting legitimate papers.

What’s important with visas is entering the country with them. When mine came through, I returned to Canada and came back through the border, offering papers to the great bureaucratic god. That’s a required step.

There’s no way to get a visa that’s easy and cheap: it’s one or the other. A standard, H-1B work visa lasts three years, and is good for two 2 year renewals.

Green cards, on the other hand, are a multi-year process, and (as I understand it), require one to have held a work visa previously. First, there’s a labor certification process in which you first prove that there’s no American available for the job: the job description is approved by three government agencies; the company posts the job offering in a well-known paper for at least three days, and is obligated to interview applicants in good faith; if no one applies who’s qualified, you prove that you’re qualified. Once that’s complete, you get a police certificate (your criminal record, if it exists, from your homeland, or a statement saying you have none), a doctor’s certificate (stating that you have no diseases for which you’d be denied entry, like AIDS or ebola), and the final application. Once that’s approved, you’re interviewed by the INS, and passing that, you get a green card. Our lawyer’s bill for each is about $10,000, and employees for whom we do it sign an agreement stating that they’ll work for us for at least three years, or pay that sum, pro-rated (100% if you quit right away or are fired for cause, 75% after one year, 50% after two, 25% if you quit after your third year, 0% after four).

There are other means to a green card, like company transfers, lotteries, and applying in labor-deficient areas, but I don’t handle those so I can’t get into it.

I’d say start the paperwork, and if he wants to visit and work black market (or as a consultant, if he’s able to), that’s his and your choice. But he’d have no health care, and no legal protection under the law. Best bet is to pay some lawyers. If he’s applying directly, and mailing applications to the INS from Texas, even they’ll know something’s up.

Never attribute to an -ism anything more easily explained by common, human stupidity.

This seems as difficult as I’ve heard the horror stories of. This is a female, I thought, ok, come here, we’ll get married for convenince, if nothing more, you can stay and get a job, etc. It doesn’t seem to be that simple.

What happens when you marry an American citizen is that you’re issued a two year, temporary green card while the INS verifies that your marriage isn’t a sham. That means surprise visits to your home to see whether there’s one bed or two, and whether or not you’re still together in two years.

If you can fake it that long, she’s in.

Never attribute to an -ism anything more easily explained by common, human stupidity.

One other wrinkle I forgot with a visa: it’s for a specific job for which you’ve already been hired. That means proof from an employer, and if you loose the job, the visas no longer valid.

Never attribute to an -ism anything more easily explained by common, human stupidity.

Well, Hansel, it wasn’t exactly fake it, more worst case senario. But I had heard that the INS will just send you back and force you thru a whole immigration process or something even if you get married.

From my short discussions with our lawyers on the topic (since I work with a bunch of spinsters who’d dearly love to catch a husband), you have a much shorter process since you don’t have to go through labor certification. Your main wait is for paperwork processing. You don’t have to wait outside the country, but until the green card arrives, it’s illegal to work in the way I described above.

The reason you’re required to leave and re-enter the country is so that a paper record of entering the country as a legal worker is recorded.

Never attribute to an -ism anything more easily explained by common, human stupidity.

Sorry, JimB. Even your marriage solution doesn’t make it easy or cheap. It’s taken three months to get together the completed application for my husband…and our attorney says it could be three years before it’s all over. Get ready to have every bit of your life divulged: tax returns, birth certificates, your prior addresses, work histories…your whole life on paper in a manila file. Even without the lawyer, we’ve paid at least $500 directly to the INS in filing fees. You might want the advice of an attorney, or at least check out the INS’s web pages, because there are additional applications your friend might want to consider, such as a permit to travel in and out of the country in the time (again, could be years) she’s waiting for the greencard.

Hansel wrote

Do I have this right? Step one is to enter the US and work for your company, and step two is for the company lawyers to get the visas? My question: How do they enter the US to begin with, without a visa? If your company gets them their visas, how did they get in to start with? Illegally?

He said he’s in Wisconsin. The “illegal aliens” are probably Canadians.

There are lots of countries which don’t require visas from the US for entry; I imagine that the US reciprocates at least some of those. For instance, I can go to the UK without a visa, I just need a passport. I can go to Canada without even a passport, though it would be a good idea for me to have some proof of citizenship when it’s time for me to get back into the country.

Also, there are some areas that aren’t quite so cut and dried. My company has international offices, and people from the UK office can come here and work at trade shows, or do customer visits, or whatever for short periods of time without work visas. If they actually wanted to MOVE to the US they’d need to get a work visa (this has happened in at least one case).

The “consultant” situation is probably similar: nominally, they’re working for their own “consulting business” which is based in Canada, they just happen to be on-site at a US “customer”.

It’s probably easier to claim this if the “consultation” does not consist of repeatedly asking “Do you want fries with that, eh?”

Actually, I’m not sure about the UK not requiring a visa. What they don’t require is a PRE-APPROVED visa; I can show up at customs there with my US passport and they’ll put a little stamp on it and let me in. That may technically be a visa.

This is in contrast to Taiwan, which requires that you get a visa at a consulate or embassy in the US before entering the country. I don’t know what happens if you show up at customs there without the rainbow-colored humongous stamp already on your passport, but I imagine it would be at least a minor hassle. To get the stamp, I had to take my passport to the consulate and leave it there overnight (I have no idea what they did; I’m guessing some kind of background check to make sure I wasn’t a Chinese communist sympathizer). I also had to prove that I had return airfare (or a round-trip ticket) plus sufficient funds to support myself while in Taiwan (this took the form of a letter on my company’s letterhead stating that I was traveling for business purposes and that my company would be providing for my lodging and accomodation while I was there).

Anyhow, it’s possible to enter the US either without a visa at all or on a “tourist” visa.

Entering the country and starting work as a “consultant” while the paperwork is being processed is a very grey area. It may be technically illegal, but if the situation was exposed, it would probably depend more on the kind of day someone was having whether or not it caused you real trouble. The lawyers told me that it’s an arguable point, and that if things went against me, the worst that would happen is that I’d be told to leave the country and return when I have the paperwork.

I am indeed Canadian, and it’s a management level position, so the INS really only seems to care that the paperwork is filled out correctly.

As far as entering the country, I told them I was visiting my brother (who also works here). Canadians and Americans crossing their border require only proof of identification; a photo driver’s licence is sufficient.

Never attribute to an -ism anything more easily explained by common, human stupidity.

I am not aware of any such reciprocating. I thought the pompous US demanded entry visas from every other country, no exceptions. Mexicans quite obviously cannot get in without one. Any Canadians here? Do you need a visa to enter the US or not?

ooops, I posted too fast. Thanks Hansel. Okay, is the US so easygoing with any other countries besides Canada?