In general, a citizen of a foreign country must obtain a visa in order to enter the United States. Although a visa normally ensures safe entry into the United States, it can also be revoked for a number of reasons. If a visa holder does not comply with the terms that come with the visa, it may be cancelled at any time. For example, if the government finds out that the visa holder is coming to the United States for a reason other than what he stated, his visa may be revoked. One example of this is the government finds out that a visa holder is using a non-immigrant tourist visa to factually live in the US rather than for a short trip. Another example is when the government receives a notification from the school that a foreign student, who was staying in the US with a student visa, does not attend classes as required. Committing crimes and misdemeanors in the country, does not matter how serious they are, will certainly put the visa at risk.

An “immigrant visa” or a green card will allow a citizen of another country to live in the United States. The permanent resident status that is associated with a green card comes with a variety of rights such as obtaining a driver’s license, working in the U.S., voting in local elections, attending public schools, and owning property. It also helps forge a path towards citizenship. However, since a permanent resident status is not the same as a citizenship, it can be taken away in certain circumstances. These situations include criminal or civil offenses, engaging in conduct that could be seen as an abandonment of their permanent residence (like traveling out of the country for prolonged periods of time, usually over a year), evidence comes out that the green card was obtained fraudulently and other exceptional circumstances. Furthermore, failing to follow the rules related to a green card, like notifying the USCIS within 10 days of moving to a new address and renewing a green card every 10 years, may also cause issues with the permanent status in the country. These are the most common situations that green card holders should be aware of and steer clear of at all costs. If a person thinks he may be at risk, he should immediately consult an experienced immigration attorney. It is much easier to prevent the event than dealing with the consequences post factum.

What makes it harder to get a visa?

The process of obtaining a visa can be extremely tedious and time consuming. Regardless of the fact that a person may qualify on paper or may have a job lined up or were accepted into a school, the U.S. consulate still has the ability to say “No”. For people that entered illegally, current laws make it extremely difficult to obtain legal status in the country. Certain waivers of inadmissibility are available under extraordinary circumstances. Please consult with an experienced immigration attorney if you believe you may qualify.

For citizens of some nations, it is more difficult to obtain a visa than for others. The U.S. consulate’s decision may depend on the person’s country of origin in addition to other considerations. For example, if the consulate observes a high level of people from the foreign country entering the United States with non-immigrant visas and not returning in time, the consulate may be more stringent to other citizens of that country when reviewing the applications. The U.S. does in fact try to keep data on those who enter the U.S. and this data will be provided to the consulates that issued visas. Let’s say, if there is a high number of people come into the U.S. on tourist visas and then apply for green cards, this information will get back to the consulate and have an affect on how the consulate processes future visas.

Anyone who has been in the US for more than six months after the expiration of their legal status, faces a three to ten year bar to readmission, depending on how long a person overstayed. If a person reenters illegally after having been removed or after having been in the U.S. unlawfully for more than a year, that person will be barred from readmission permanently. However, there are rare cases in which, with the help of a good immigration attorney, this rule may be overturned. A situation in which removal would cause extreme hardship to the person’s US citizen/permanent resident parent or spouse is one of the exceptions. Sadly, hardship to a US citizen/permanent resident child does not qualify for the purposes to claim hardship.