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Tourist Legal Status in the USA: Navigating Visa Options

Have you entered the USA on a tourist visa (B-1 or B-2) and wish to change your legal status? If you’re seeking another form of nonimmigrant status, several options may be available. The exact type depends on your eligibility and circumstances.

🚀 In the USA, are some common nonimmigrant visa categories you could switch to (from a tourist visa):

F-1 Student Visa:

You could potentially change your status to an F-1 student visa. This applies if you plan to enroll in a US school or educational institution to pursue full-time studies.

H-1B Visa:

Got a job offer from a US employer for a position that requires specialized knowledge or skills? You may be able to change your status to an H-1B visa. However, the H-1B lottery usually takes place once a year on April 1. You must first have your employer file with the US Department of Labor as the preliminary step. Then, you can enter the April 1 H-1B lottery. Wait until June-July to find out if you won. You must uphold legal status inside the US and be in status until October 1 if you won. If you’re in the US on a tourist visa, you must maintain your legal status from the time of application through the H-1B lottery and potential visa approval.

L-1 Intracompany Transfer Visa:

Perhaps you work for a multinational company with offices in the US. If you initially entered the country with a US tourist visa, you may be eligible to transfer offices on an L-1 visa. This assumes you meet the visa’s specific requirements for intracompany transferees.

E-1 or E-2 Treaty Investor or Trader Visa:

Maybe you are considering switching from a US tourist visa to a long-term visa. Are you a national of a country that has a treaty with the United States? If so, and if you plan to engage in substantial trade or investment activities, you may be eligible for an E-1 or E-2 visa.

O-1 Visa:

The O-1 visa is a potential pathway for individuals who may currently be in the US under a tourist visa. This could be a good fit if you possess an extraordinary ability or achievement in your field. If you work in the arts, sciences, athletics, or business, this could apply for you.

U Visa or T Visa:

Are you a victim of certain qualifying crimes (U visa) or human trafficking (T visa) and assisting law enforcement? You may be eligible to change your status to one of these categories. Holding a US tourist visa and facing such challenging circumstances could qualify you for humanitarian relief. This takes place through the U or T visa categories. This offers a path to legally remain in the country and assist in judicial processes.

Temporary Protected Status (TPS):

Some individuals currently on a tourist visa US cannot return home safely. Is your home country designated for TPS due to armed conflict, natural disasters, or other extraordinary conditions? You may be eligible to apply for this temporary status.

These following legal status options are available to a Tourist in the US: 

  1. Asylum Status:
    Do you fear persecution in your home country? Is it due to your race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or membership in a particular social group? You may apply for asylum.
  2. Marriage to a US Citizen.
    If your marriage works out, you may apply for a 2-year green card with conditions first. If this marriage falls apart, you may qualify for a VAWA abuse-based marriage petition.
  3. EB-1 Immigrant Petition for a Green Card through Work for Extraordinary Ability professionals, stars in their field.
  4. EB-2 with National Interest Waiver – for people with exceptional ability or advanced degrees with super cool work experience. Their work and presence in US should be visible. How will it improve the field as a whole and benefit the United States?

The Importance of an Immigration Lawyer

It’s very important to consult with an immigration attorney to assess your US tourist legal status. They can help you determine the most appropriate visa category for your needs. Changing your tourist visa status in the US can be a complex process. Eligibility criteria may vary depending on individual circumstances and the visa category you are seeking.

Your American dream is within reach, and we’re here to help you achieve it. Until next time, take care and best of luck on your extraordinary journey!

☎️ Contact us today to learn more about how we can assist you in your immigration journey.