If you are seeking to immigrate to the Tampa/Clearwater area in Florida, you may need to know more about United States immigration laws. The specific situation you are in may affect how you apply.

Regardless of your circumstances, you will probably need to speak with an immigration attorney. An immigration attorney in the area you are seeking to move to can help you work through the issues involved.

If you are already living in the United States

If you already live in the United States and are a student, undocumented, a refugee or in a similar position, you will need to apply with the Bureau of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). This agency will determine your status and is the agency that would issue a work permit and an alien registration card (often known as a “green card”). However, it is important to file carefully and accurately so that USCIS determines your case properly.

If you currently live in another country

If you currently live in another country and wish to immigrate to the Tampa/Clearwater area of the United States, you should apply for a visa at a Department of State Consular office. Obtaining a visa ensures a smooth process when you enter the country.

Family- and employment-related visas

It is easier to obtain a visa if you are closely related to a US citizen or are returning from a previous job that was overseas. Spouses of US citizens are also eligible for visas, but they must demonstrate that their marriage is valid in some cases. If you are seeking a visa because of an employment offer, you should be aware that the employer must also file documents with the US Department of Labor.

Both processes can be complex and require multiple steps and documents with the USCIS and other agencies. You should work through all these steps carefully to ensure that you protect your rights.