Making plans to travel to Kentucky or another location in the United States from abroad can be exciting and stressful at the same time. It might be the first time you’ve ever left your country of origin. Perhaps you have goals and dreams about starting over in life in a new home, community and workplace, or want to stay in the U.S. on a temporary basis.

The process for making such dreams come true can be quite daunting. Many immigrants feel confused just trying to figure out which visa they need. Are you a student who wishes to study at a U.S. university? Have you met the love of your life and want to marry him or her? Do you have a job opportunity in the United States? Each of these issues may help determine which type of visa you need. Like most immigrants, what you want to avoid most is legal status problems.

Proper documentation is the key to avoiding problems

Most people don’t like to have to fill out tons of paperwork. However, if your goal is to legally enter the U.S. with a visa, there’s no escaping it. You must go through the proper channels and fill out necessary applications. The following information helps clarify the difference between immigrant and non-immigrant visas:

  • An immigrant visa is for those who wish to permanently relocate to the United States, while you can apply for a non-immigrant visa if your stay in Kentucky or elsewhere will be temporary.
  • If you wish to obtain an immigrant visa, you’ll likely need a sponsor in the United States. This might be a prospective employer or a relative who is already a U.S. citizen.
  • Perhaps you are coming to the United States to receive medical treatment or as a tourist. These are examples of situations that would require you to obtain a non-immigrant visa.
  • Non-immigrant visas are related to the purpose of travel. In some circumstances, you may need prior authorization before applying for your visa. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services provides much information online regarding visa classifications and requirements you must fulfill according to your circumstances. Many people err in thinking that possession of a visa guarantees entry to the United States, which is not the case. If you have a visa, it simply means the proper officials have reviewed your application and have determined that you are eligible to enter the U.S. for a specific purpose.

If problems arise

Even if you obtain a green card, which means you are a legal, permanent resident of the U.S., any number of issues may arise that can still cause legal problems with your status. This is why it’s always a good idea to know where to seek guidance and support if an unexpected legal status problem impedes your entrance to the United States or existing residence.