Property buying guide for USA
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Visas, residence permits and citizenship in USA

Foreign citizens in the US should apply to the Department of State, Immigration and Naturalization Service of the Department of Justice and Department of Labour for citizenship and residence permits.


Member countries of the Visa Waiver Program (VWP), citizens of the Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of the Marshall Islands and the Republic of Palau, The Bahamas, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands and Turks and Caicos Islands can stay in the US for tourist and business purposes for up to 90 days without a visa. Citizens of Canada can stay for up to 180 days.

Other nationalities require a visa. There are more than 185 visa categories that are divided into two main types:

  • Non-immigrant visa for temporary stays in (tourism, business or studies)
  • Immigrant visa for long-term stays in the country and immigration

More information on visa requirements and rules can be found on the Department of State website.

How to get a residence permit

The main act regulating long-term stays on US soil is the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965. A residence permit with a Green Card is issued under the following circumstances:

  • family reunification
  • employment by a US employer
  • investment in the US economy (from $500,000 to $1M and creating 10 jobs for US citizens)
  • winning the Diversity Lottery program (“Green Card lottery”)
  • asylum or refugee status
  • Green Card application under the Registry chapter of the Immigration and Nationality Act
  • by decision of the Director of National Intelligence

More information about the procedures, required documents and rules pertaining to residence permits can be found on the Department of State website.

The permanent residence permit (Green Card) allows the holder to leave and return to the US at any time. They enjoy all the rights of US citizens, except for the right to vote and be elected. The document is issued for 10 years with the option to extend.

Residence on the grounds of investment is granted by the EB-5 visa. The investor must create 10 jobs for permanent residents/citizens of the US and invest $1M in a new business or at least $500,000 in a Targeted Employment Area (specific zone with high unemployment rates — 1,5 times higher than the country average). These funds must be invested through special regional centres, the full list is available here.

-> EB-5: how to get an American investor visa

More information about the EB-5 visa, required documents and rules can be found on the Immigration and Naturalization Service website.

How to get citizenship

US citizenship is granted by right of birth, right of blood or through naturalization. The requirements for the latter include:

  • applicants aged 18 or older
  • Green Card holder
  • no less than five years of legal residence on US soil (during which the applicant did not leave the country for more than 30 months or travel continuously for more than a year)
  • residing at least three months in the district or state where the application will be made

Candidates also have to pass tests on language, history and the country’s main rules and regulations. Citizenship can be obtained through marriage with a US citizen (at least three years) or if the applicant has relatives in the US. The USA allows dual nationality.

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    Property buying guide for USA
    Article 4 of 6
    Tranio’s managers offer advice on buying real estate in the USA
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    +44 17 4822 0039
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