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United States of America (USA) - Registration and Residency

Registration and residency is purely based on your visa status but this takes your entry into the US to another level. You must have the appropriate visa before you enter the country and this should be secured before you leave your home country.

At the entry port you will be registered onto the Homeland Immigration Department’s system which will highlight your visa, your address where you will be staying and who you’re working for if applicable or the educational establishment you’re training at. You will be registered there and there is no further registration required with any government department.

Your details will also be entered onto the US Immigration Department’s system when you apply for your visa in your home country.

It is wise regardless of your visa status to register your stay with your own consulate or embassy within the United States and there are local offices available for you to do this.

For British Nationals residing in the USA -

The British Embassy in Washington D.C.

3100 Massachusetts Avenue, NW
Washington DC 20008


Enquiries +1 202 588 6500

The Regulations for Aliens

If you’re on a temporary visa, you can only remain for the period of time on your visa and as these details are entered from your home country and at the port of entry, these must be adhered to.

If you’re on a permanent visa and are intending to register intent for residency then you will be known as an “intending immigrant”. This can be for a number of reasons. You may have a parent who is an American citizen or a grandparent who is or was a citizen. Those aliens will be moved to the top of the list in the Green Card assessments and are usually family-sponsored.

There are also political asylum seekers and this can take a number of years after the asylum seeker has given a proven number of reasons why they cannot return to their home country.

Those who are applying for residency status of the permanent kind under employment status are included in the group of people who can apply for permanent residency (Green Card). There is a waiting period and there can be significant delays; you must maintain your visa requirements while undergoing the application and waiting period. If you are found to be remaining in the US without an appropriate visa you will be deported immediately and your application will be disqualified.

Waiting Time for Permits

There are differing times for different permits and those who are on a temporary permit such as B-Visas and H-Visas can expect to have their visa through in a matter of weeks after the initial interview at the US embassy. Once the interview process is complete and you may be called back for a second one, there is usually a period of time to wait. You will have to submit your passport for your visa to be entered onto the passport and as this is now done bio-metrically, you will be without your passport for that time.

Documentation Required for Visa Application

There are a number of documents that will be required for your visa application at the US embassy.

· Valid passport – the validity of your passport must exceed the period of time your visa application is for

· Proof of your address

· Supporting documentation from employer/training centre/educational establishment in the US/proof of address where you will be staying in the US

· Your return ticket if you’re applying outside of the visa waiver program for any of the exemptions

· Payment

· Signed documentation if any references are required.

Quota System

There is a quota system for permanent visa applications and awards of Green Cards to aliens. There are some aliens who are exempt from the quota system. Exemptions apply to those who have a heritage link (a parent or grandparent who is an American citizen), those who are there for refugee purposes and those who could be classed as special immigrants. All the rest will be under the quota system and the number as it currently stands is 25,000 places per country that is entitled to apply.

Medical Examinations

There is no defined legal requirement which states you may have to undergo a medical examination. However, you may be asked questions about your general health and your insurance requirements may mean you have to take a medical examination.

Financially Solvent

If you are applying for a temporary visa then you will be asked about your financial situation. You will have no recourse to any public funds on a temporary visa. Therefore, you will need to ensure you can display that you’ve enough money to live on before your visa is agreed.

Useful Contacts

There has been plenty covered in this article about certain requirements when it comes to applying for visas. There are a number of websites and contact numbers you can use for further information:

The British Consulate in Los Angeles – covers southern regions for UK expats who should register with the consulate: California, Arizona, Nevada, Hawaii, Guam and American Samoa.

2029 Century Park East, Suite 1350
Los Angeles CA 90067

Tel: +1 310 789 0031

The USA Visa and Consulate of the USA Immigration Department in London:

There are other locations in the UK for these offices and all details can be located on the website under the “Location” tab.

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