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I currently live in London with my partner and our son, after my first trip to California in September, I am now desperate to move there. I approached a few immigration lawyers/attorneys for advice, they all want a substantial sum for a consultation. I am reluctant to pay a large sum of money when I have no idea of my chances, I don't want to be strung along, plus I'm aware of a lot of scams so it's put me off even more! (how do you know these companies are verified/legit?)

My intention is to immigrate to CA to work/live on a permanent basis, we have no immediate family that can sponsor us (yet), it could be years before my partner's father has his citizenship.

Before anyone says "just wait a few years", we don't want to, we are fed up with the UK.

If my only option is to approach this as a 'non-immigrant' and look at temp visa options, what would people recommend? In my position, should someone look to enter the US on a Tourism visa then casually look for work? If you found a job could you even get employed as you aren't a resident, you are basically on a long holiday.

Any advice on this would be great, apologies if I haven't been clear.

Also, if anyone could recommend a legitimate immigration firm to speak with, that would be great. I've read that someone in a similar position approached their local consulate however their advice resulted in them being denied entry so I may avoid this.

migrated from travel.stackexchange.com Jan 6 '16 at 15:31

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    Oh, and working on a tourist visa/visa waiver is very much illegal, as a quick look at the US government website for visas would tell you, and would likley hurt your chances of ever getting legal residency. – CMaster Jan 6 '16 at 13:29
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    For sure, if you can't trust a solicitor bound by the UK Law Society, the preferred option is to throw it open to random people on the net. At least you can trust them! – Gayot Fow Jan 6 '16 at 13:50
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    You don't need a firm for that. The rules are public and quite strict. See immigrationpolicy.org/just-facts/…. You either need to have a US spouse or parent, an employer to sponsor you, be rich and famous, or just be really, really lucky and win the lottery. You can't buy or finagle your way in. – Hilmar Jan 6 '16 at 13:53
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    As I understand it you can buy your way in by setting up a US buisness but you have to invest at least a million dollars upfront in said buisness. – Peter Green Jan 6 '16 at 14:54
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    The risk with internet strangers is not that they would scam you; the risk is that they will not know what they are talking about. Immigration law is pretty complex, and despite the best of intentions there's a lot of incorrect immigration advice floating around the internet. – phoog Jan 11 '16 at 20:30
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I am not an expert, but here are a couple of thoughts based on yoru question and the comments to it:

1) You talk about your partner. You better get married, if you are just living together, you getting a visa will not give your partner a visa.

2) You should at least try the lottery. You just missed it, it closed in early November last year. It is free to apply. Edit: Anyone born in the UK (except Northern ireland)are not eligable for the DV lottery: http://travel.state.gov/content/dam/visas/Diversity-Visa/DV-Instructions-Translations/DV-2017-Instructions-Translations/DV-2017%20Instructions%20and%20FAQs.pdf

3) If you go to the US on a tourist visa (or in the case of the UK on Visa Waiver), you are not allowed to work. If you are found out you will be deported and banned from returning for (usually) 10 years. There are also penalties for any company hiring you, so no reputable company would give you a job without you having a valid work permit. Edit: It is permitted to visit the US for a job interview on a B-1 Business visa, but the immigration officer may suspect that you don't intend to leave the US, so he/she may deny you entry if he is in that mood: http://www.immihelp.com/forum/showthread.php/98901-Can-I-travel-on-B1-visa-for-Job-Interview-in-US

4) There are (as Hilmar says) really just a few ways to immigrate to the US legally:

  • Marry an american citizen and have him/her petition for you to get a green card
  • Win a green card (your wife and child would get one then automatically as well)
  • Be a specialist in your field and have a US company sponsor an H-1B visa. They also need to prove that you have skills that can't be found in the US by americans. I believe your wife would get a visa then too, allowing her to work. This is not a permanent visa, it is only valid for 3 years, with the option to extend it. If you lose your job you have 30 days to find a new job and a company willing to sponsor you.
  • Be a person of extraordinary skills, and apply for a EB visa.
  • Start a company with at least 1 millon dollar invested and 10 employees. This is also not a permament visa, if you close the business you have to leave.

There is plenty of information available at http://www.uscis.gov/

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    Please edit 2--UK citizens (if born there) are not eligible for the Diversity Visa (AKA the green card lottery). – mkennedy Jan 11 '16 at 19:53
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    It is permissible to enter on a B-1 visa, however, for a job interview. It's also permissible to engage in incidental touring while admitted in B-1 status. There are some other obscure options, too. For example, one can work for an international organization in the US for a cumulative total of 15 years, of which 3.5 have to have been during the 7 years before leaving the organization. Of course, getting a job with the UN and then convincing them to post you mostly to New York is easier said than done. – phoog Jan 11 '16 at 20:24
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    The spouse of a person having a H1-B visa would get a H-4 visa, which is valid until the H1-B expires. The H-4 visa doesn't grant the right to work automatically. It has to be applied to, and under specific conditions: uscis.gov/working-united-states/temporary-workers/… – Majuj Jan 12 '16 at 12:32
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This answer is specific to trying to work while on a B1/B2 visit visa or the equivalent visa waiver.

Very early in working at a legal, on-the-books job, usually in the first day, you will be asked to complete the employee information for Form I9. You will lack any document establishing employment authorization - see List A and List C on the last page of the form. That will prevent you from working as an insurance agent or similar.

There are undocumented workers in California, but I would not recommend going that route, for many reasons.

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