About Visa and More

Published on 04/07/2016

Hello, I’m Vaughan de Kirby. I’m an investment immigration attorney based here in San Francisco. And today we’re going to talk about something a little different. We’re going to do some FAQs. I get emails and questions from my clients and from people around the world, and I thought I’d address some of those questions that I’ve received often.

One is what is a visa, or what rights does it provide? And the other is sort of part of that question, and that is does a visa guarantee entry? First, it’s important to understand what a visa is, and we’ve discussed that in earlier videos where we talked about the differences between a 10-year multi entry visa and EB-5, and the purposes of the two of them. Today let’s just talk about what a visa is. It’s important to understand that a visa is basically granting you the right to come to the United States and appear before a customs officer and request entry into the United States for a specified purpose. It’s important to understand this is no guarantee. Having a visa doesn’t guarantee your entry. And that customs officer will question you on why you’re coming to the United States, and that customs officer has the power to deny your entry, to grant your entry, and to tell you how long you can lawfully stay in the United States with the visa that you entered on.

The other question we get often is who needs a visa? Essentially for the most part everyone needs a visa when they come to the United States, and each visa has a designated purpose, whether it’s a B1 or B2, a visitor’s visa, or possibly an F1 for a particular area of study in the United States. The officer will grant your stay based on the purpose of your entry.

Another question we get and that kind of goes back to the EB-5 question is what’s the difference between a visa, which gives you the right to come to the United States, and a Green Card? Well they’re very distinct. If you have a visa, as I’ve explained, this allows you to appear in front of a customs officer and request entry. If you have a Green Card, we call it a Green Card, but what it actually is is what’s called Permanent Residency. It means that you’re considered a permanent resident of the United States, and there’re requirements that you’ll want to discuss with your immigration attorney, but basically it means you can reside in the United States and absent some problem in your Green Card, or in the length you’ve been gone from the United States, the customs officer will generally grant your entry without any delay.  

What is an I-94? In the past, we had a card; it was called an I-94 card. Now it’s gonna be a stamp in your passport. This is very important to understand the distinction, because sometimes people say, I have a three year visa, why can’t I just stay in the United States? Actually your staying in the United States is based on the grant in your I-94. Your I-94, which is now a stamp in your passport, will say specifically how long you’re allowed to stay in the United States lawfully. It’s very important that you don’t violate the I-94, as it can result in severe immigration problems that you’ll want to discuss with your immigration attorney.

I hope these brief FAQs are helpful to you. If you have questions or you want clarifications on these issues, don’t hesitate to contact us or call 415-221-2345. We’ll be happy to go over that with you. Thank you!

Vaughan de Kirby
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San Francisco California EB-5 Investment Immigration Attorney


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