The USA originated in a revolution, which separated it from the British Crown.
The constitution, drafted in 1787, established a federal system with a division of powers even at the central level, which, uniquely among modern nation-states, has remained unchanged in form since its inception.
The early settlers came predominantly from the British Isles. Workers from Africa joined them involuntarily in a second wave. Millions of Europeans constituted a third stage of immigration. Today, Asians from the Pacific Rim and Hispanics from the Americas are seeking what their predecessors wanted: political freedom and prosperity.
As we entered the 21st Century, services formerly provided by the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) transitioned into the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) under US Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS). In support of the DHS overall mission, the priorities of the USCIS are to promote national security, continue to eliminate immigration case backlogs, and improve customer services. The USCIS will continue efforts to fundamentally transform and improve the delivery of immigration and citizenship services.
Created as a separate bureau by the Homeland Security Act of 2002, USCIS allows the DHS to improve the administration of benefits and immigration services for applicants by exclusively focusing on immigration and citizenship services. This new Bureau includes approximately 15,000 employees and contractors, and is headed by the Director of USCIS, who reports directly to the Deputy Secretary for Homeland Security.
US Immigration policies, regulations and laws are often complex, change continually, and vary considerably for each type of visa (permit) and for each type of category or reason that a person wishes to enter or emigrate to the USA.
There are two general classifications of US visas: nonimmigrant visas for temporary stays, and immigrant visas to live permanently in the US. Your choice of visa is determined by the purpose of your travel to the United States.
Nonimmigrant US Visas (for temporary visitors):
Temporary visitors to the U.S. must obtain a nonimmigrant visa. This type of visa allows you to travel to the USA. If you are a citizen of a country that's part of the Visa Waiver Program, you may come to the US without a visa if you meet certain requirements.
There are a number of reasons why someone would come to the US on a temporary visa, including: holidays and tourism, short term business, medical treatment and certain types of temporary work, and there are over 20 different visas available in this category.
Immigrant US Visas (for permanent emigration):
An immigrant visa is for those who intend to emigrate to permanently live in the USA. There are four major categories within this type of visa classification, including: immediate relatives, special immigrants, family-sponsored and employer-sponsored work.
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