How to Start the Process of Moving To the US

The United States has one of the largest economies in the world, so it isn’t surprising that so many people from different countries of the world are considering moving to the US. The search for better life opportunities and growth within the country is endless. Although America opens its doors to migrants from all over the world, the process of getting in can be complicated.

If you have been wondering about how you can move from your current home country to the US, this is a simplified guide that explores different migration pathways and how to get started with them.

The Family or Work Visa Immigration Process

According to the US government website, about one million people annually receive green cards that establish them as permanent residents of America. One of the easiest ways to become a permanent resident is through an immigrant visa. Now an immigrant visa can either be a family-based visa or an employment visa. This means someone in the US, either a family member or an employer, must want you to come to the US and they have to file an immigration petition for you. Once this petition is approved, you can apply for an immigrant visa through a consulate in your country.

After a subsequent interview and a medical exam, you wait patiently to see if your visa has been denied or approved. After approval, you must pay a fee to the USCIS which will be used to process your visa package and green card. Unless you are a child entering the US via an orphan adoption program, an Iraqi or Afghan immigrant, or a permanent resident already, this fee is compulsory for you. It is recommended to pay the fee before even traveling to the US. Failure to pay means that your permanent resident status might be in jeopardy after a year.

DV Lottery Program

Another pathway for moving into the US is via the diversity visa lottery program. The DV lottery makes limited green card opportunities available for citizens in countries with low immigration rates to the US. On an annual basis, the US Department of State puts out a list of eligible and non-eligible countries. Bear in mind that this list changes every year. So to qualify, you must be from a country with a low US immigration rate, be a graduate of high school with some work experience, and your country must be among the eligible countries for that year.

Once you meet these requirements, you have to register for the lottery. For instance, registration for the 2024 DV lottery began on October 5th, 2022, and ended on November 8th, 2022. After the registration, the confirmation number should be kept safe because it will be used to track your entry online. It will also be used to track your lottery results.

Due to numerous scams, the US Department of State does not send winning applicants emails about their success. You can only know you have won by checking your status with your entry number. If you win, you can proceed to fill out and submit your visa application and then go for an interview. You would still be required to pay the USCIS immigrant fee.

Moving to the US for Educational Purposes

If you do not have an employer or a family member willing to sponsor you to the US, you can move to the US to study through the F-1 visa route. This is the most popular visa that allows foreign students to study in the US. An accredited US institution certified by the Student and Exchange Visitor Program must offer you admission before you can move. Potential foreign students need to have English language proficiency, a valid international passport, and sufficient funding to finance their studies and day-to-day living expenses.

The visa application can only begin once you have been accepted into a SEVP-accredited institution in the US. The University then provides 1-20 forms which you as a potential student must sign. The 1-20 form is very important and must be kept carefully. It grants you access to the country and permits you to do things like work while studying. You will also need to pay a visa fee as part of the application process. It is approximately just a bit over 500 dollars which also includes your SEVIS processing fees.

Next, you will be required to complete a DS-160 online nonimmigrant application which costs about 160 dollars. After submission, you must save the printed confirmation with a barcode. The next stage will be to schedule your visa interview at the closest US Embassy in your home country. The following documents will be checked by the consulate officer conducting the interview:

  • Valid Passport
  • 1-20 form
  • School transcripts
  • Proof of Test scores cited on the University Application
  • Bank Statements as proof of financial stability
  • All previous academic records
  • Evidence of intent to depart the US after the degree has been acquired

The F-1 visa is usually granted after the successful completion of an interview

Self Petition Category

Do you possess exceptional abilities in the arts, business sports, or sciences? Do you have accomplishments in these categories as proof? If you believe your abilities can be instrumental to the US, then you can move to the US through the self-petition category. You will need proof of your industry accomplishments and a valid passport for this application. You have to also prove to the US government that you will serve the country’s National interest better than those already in the country with the exact qualifications as you.

The first thing you must do is apply as an immigrant alien worker through consular processing and wait for a response from the USCIS. You will be informed about the status of your application after which you can proceed with the rest of the process. If approved, your application will go to the National Visa Office. When your visa immigrant number is available, the NVC will notify you and give a detailed breakdown of processing fees and any other additional documentation you might need. A visa interview is usually scheduled once your immigrant number becomes available.

After the interview, you will be informed as to whether your case has been approved, denied, or in need of further processing. If your self-petition immigrant visa application is successful, you will get a visa packet from the consular officer. You must present this at the US point of entry. Upon admission into the states, the green card is sent via mail after 45 days.


Whatever path you choose to go through, your chances of success are greatly enhanced if you follow all instructions to the letter, and provide every single thing the US requires of you. It is also recommended to consult experienced immigration lawyers or reputable agencies for guidance. Working with an expert like this increases your chances of a successful immigration process.

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