The United States of America has long been a land of opportunity, attracting immigrants from all corners of the globe. Among those seeking to make this dream a reality are many Indian citizens, drawn by the prospects of great education, career opportunities, and a higher standard of living.
Relocating to the USA requires careful planning, adherence to immigration laws, and understanding of the available pathways. In this article, we explore some common routes for Indian citizens to move to the USA and offer guidance on navigating the process.
We can generally divide these immigration channels into two: through the diversity visa lottery and other US visa channels. Learn about each of them in this article.
One of the primary avenues for Indian citizens to move to the USA is employment-based immigration. This route involves obtaining a job offer from a US company willing to sponsor the individual for a work visa.
There are several employment-based visa categories, including the H-1B visa for skilled workers in specialty occupations, the L-1 visa for intracompany transferees, and the O-1 visa for individuals with extraordinary ability or achievement in their field.
The requirements are usually related to the employment itself — job contracts, qualification documents, and other related documents — and identity documents of the to-be immigrant, such as passport and visa application photos. Researching the specific requirements and qualifications for each visa category is crucial, and working closely with the employer to gather the necessary documentation.
Another option for Indian citizens to move to the USA is family-based immigration. If you have immediate family members who are US citizens or lawful permanent residents, they may be able to sponsor you for an immigrant visa. Immediate relatives, including spouses, parents, and unmarried children under 21, receive priority in the family-based immigration system.
Other family members, such as siblings or married adult children, fall into preference categories with specific limitations and longer waiting periods. The sponsor must demonstrate the ability to support the immigrant financially, and the process typically involves multiple steps and extensive documentation, one of the goals of which is to prove the future migrant’s ties to the sponsor.
Diversity visa lottery
Indian citizens who meet the requirements can also participate in the Diversity Visa (DV) Lottery, commonly known as the Green Card Lottery. Annually, the US government allocates a certain number of immigrant visas to countries with historically low rates of immigration to the United States.
To apply for the Diversity Visa (DV) Lottery, individuals must meet two general requirements: they must be a native of an eligible country as determined by the U.S. government, and they must have at least a high school education or its equivalent or two years of work experience within the past five years in an occupation that requires at least two years of training or experience.
Unfortunately, people born in India are not eligible. But if your spouse or parents were born abroad, you can claim your eligibility based on their country of birth. If at time of your birth your parents were legal residents in a country outside India, you still qualify.
Applicants for the DV lottery must submit an application form detailing their identity, including a compliant photograph. Additional documents such as birth certificates, educational transcripts, and marriage certificates may be requested for selected winners during the visa application process.
Student and exchange visitor programs
For Indian citizens aspiring to pursue higher education in the United States, the student and exchange visitor programs offer an opportunity to study and potentially work there. Indian students can apply to US universities and colleges, obtain the necessary student visa (F-1 or M-1), and embark on their academic journey.
It is important to research and select an accredited institution, meet the admission requirements, and demonstrate the financial means to support one’s education and living expenses. Upon completion of their studies, graduates may have the option to pursue employment in the United States through optional practical training programs.
The requirements to apply for such visas include proof that you are enrolled in study or exchange programs and have the means to support yourself.
For individuals with substantial financial resources, the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program provides an avenue to move to the USA. By making a qualifying investment, typically a minimum of $1.8 million (or $900,000 in targeted employment areas), in a new commercial enterprise that creates jobs for US workers, Indian citizens can apply for an EB-5 visa.
This program offers a direct path to permanent residency for the investor, their spouse, and their unmarried children under 21 years old. However, it is important to seek professional guidance and carefully assess the financial and legal aspects of the investment before proceeding.
Moving to the United States of America as an Indian citizen is a significant decision that requires thorough planning and adherence to immigration laws. Whether through employment-based immigration, family sponsorship, the DV Lottery, student programs, or investment-based immigration, multiple pathways are available to pursue the American Dream.
It is essential to conduct extensive research, consult with immigration professionals when needed, and carefully follow the application processes and requirements. While the journey may present challenges, with dedication, perseverance, and careful planning, many Indian citizens have successfully realized their dreams of living and thriving in the United States.