Play in the USA

When it comes to playing, it’s hard to beat what America has to offer.  Beautiful scenery, abundant nature, exciting entertainment venues, theme parks and country or cityscapes attract visitors from all over the globe.  Not to mention the dining and shopping. Culturally distinct regions are united by one language, one currency and a common desire to attract investors and visitors as an economic development strategy.

Just Visiting?

Sports venues live off international competitions and training, and shopping outlets could close if it weren’t for the traffic provided by foreign tourists.  Less fun but nonetheless lucrative is ‘medical tourism’ – hospitals and clinics that offer procedures performed by experienced medical professionals. Almost everything is available for a price.  Visitors just have to decide how much time they want to spend in the United States, apply for admission to the playground and follow the rules, which (for immigration purposes) means: Do not overstay and do not work.

If you hold the passport of a country which participates in the ESTA program, a fairly simple registration is usually all you need for short trips.  If not, or if ESTA does not provide the desired time or flexibility, a visitor visa allows trips up to six months for business or pleasure or to visit relatives or even accompany family in non-immigrant status in some situations.  While applications for such visitor visas should be carefully prepared, they actually require an underlying desire NOT to permanently move to or work in the United States.

*Visitors, including professional athletes traveling to competitions, must be cognizant of the aggregate time spent and nature of their activities in the United States to avoid complications such as a refused admission or the dreaded ‘expedited removal’ which can result in a five-year bar to re-entry.* 

Upon arrival, customs officers may ask about your plan to return and your ability to spend your visit without having or planning to work illegally. Once you have arrived, ESTA entries come with two major caveats:  With very limited exceptions, status cannot be extended and status cannot be changed.  If you find yourself in a situation where you cannot leave, such as pandemic-related flight cancellations or other emergency-type situations, USCIS or Customs and Border Protection may provide relief by granting “satisfactory departure” past the date on your I-94.  Why is this important?  Any overstay on ESTA cancels the registration, which means you have to apply for a visa at your local U.S. consulate, and that may be difficult if you have a history of disregarding the rules.


Playing Permanently

The only way to play permanently in the United States without having to worry about departure dates is to become a Lawful Permanent Resident. Once that status is achieved, you can relax knowing that your retirement or the sale of the business through which you immigrated will not cause a forced departure. Depending on how one obtains permanent residence, eligibility to apply for U.S. citizenship starts within three to five years after the Green Card is issued.

There is always the annual “Diversity Visa Program” also known as the Green Card Lottery designed to attract a number of immigrants, and people do win it. Participation does not preclude the application for non-immigrant visas, so anyone interested might as well try it. Accuracy in completion of the online application is important, as is timely follow-up once notified. (Even though only 50,000 visas are given out annually, 100,000 people receive notification, so it’s important not to dawdle.)

Other than that, shy of close family ties, there is no avenue to come to the U.S. permanently without being classified as an “Alien Worker” in one of the employment-based categories (EB-1 – EB-5). (See “Work in the USA)

A word about Green Cards through immigrant investor programs: Immigrant Investors – the EB-5 category.

At the time the text for this website is being drafted, the popular EB-5 Regional Center Program (which was created in the 1980’s and had been reauthorized by the U.S. Congress periodically for the past 20+ years) has lapsed. Unfortunately, the present U.S. Congress does not appear to be able to agree on anything, even that investment and job creation are important for the United States. This means that this indirect mode of investment with the benefit of permanent residence for “Alien Investors” is currently on hold. Already-filed applications are languishing in processing and there appears to be some movement toward relief for those applicants who participated in the Regional Center program before it lapsed. Attorneys representing applicants and (former) Regional Center administrators are watching the developments. Please stay tuned.

In the meantime, the category itself is alive and well for people who directly invest the required amount (currently still $1 Million or $500,000 in rural or targeted employment areas (TEA)) in a new or failing enterprise and create or save ten direct jobs for U.S. workers. Some regional center operations have developed packages that categorize the formerly managed ‘indirect’ investment as a ‘direct investment’ to address the continued need for US investment and the demand for green cards from qualified investors.



"It was a pleasure to work with Mrs. Henning from the initial consultation until the day our case was approved and green card was in our hand.

She was always very accessible, responsive, and reliable, and was an extremely knowledgeable resource on timelines, procedures, current immigration laws and what to expect from the process from start to finish.

Most important for us is the fact that Mrs. Henning was efficient and timely in preparing the paperwork and forms for every stage of the application and was diligent and thorough in creating a comprehensive case file to ensure we were providing all information necessary for a successful adjudication of our case.

She was on top of things every step of the way and we knew we could rely on her to make sure everything was taken care of. We were in fantastic hands and would not hesitate to highly recommend working with her to anyone. Thanks so much."

— Michaela Worm-Herzner and Heiko Worm

"The immigration process can be a stressful and challenging journey. This is exactly how I felt before I met Norma Henning. I was going through a rough divorce, had an arrest record and did not have any family around. I was not sure if I would be able to have my case approved. Norma was able to prepare everything.

She assured and supported me throughout the entire process. After going through another similar process without an attorney, this was a completely unique experience to have Norma by my side attending my interviews in the USCIS. She was like Immigration Fairy Godmother who made things magically happen.

I am beyond grateful for all the professionalism and care that Norma always provided. After receiving my green card and citizenship, I referred Norma to my parents to apply for their green cards. It was also a challenging case due to my father’s military background. But her level of experience and expertise helped us get the application done the right way.

I told Norma once that I trusted her 110% and if she told me to dress up as a clown for the interview, I would have done it because she knows best. Do not hesitate, get your case managed by a professional immigration attorney who cares!"

— Maria S. and family

"I was referred to Norma Henning by my CPA, who spoke highly about her knowledge when it comes to visa and immigration matters. I wanted to move from Germany to the US and was looking for the best way to get my visa or even permanent resident card (green card).

She analyzed my professional background and found that I qualified for classification as an Alien of Extraordinary Ability in my field. Now some time ago, I opened my own consulting firm and get to contribute my experience and skills to U.S. clients while enjoying the flexibility that permanent residence brings with it.

Traveling back and forth to Europe has been possible even during the pandemic, and I am very grateful to Ms. Henning for guiding and supporting me and my wife throughout the process. She has shown so much knowledge and experience in this matter, that I always felt like I was in the best of hands. And she navigated all matters of the process at the very high standard which I expected as an executive manager.

Also, it has been a lot of fun to work with Norma Henning and I have recommended her in the past more than a dozen times to friends and other entrepreneurs."

— Dr. Ulrich P
Naples FL

"Mrs. Henning has been the key component in our success with my husband immigrating to the USA. During a time when NO ONE knew what to expect (started in late 2018 and it’s now early 2022), I don’t think we could have made it without her. Many couples who have struggled with bringing in their spouses during the Pandemic and Trump administration would know that it has been exhausting to deal with all the changes and closures.

We were separated for SO LONG during COVID but Mrs. Henning has been so patient and encouraging. She was extremely detail-oriented and always knew when there was any new changes to be made on any of the documents. Mind you, we never knew it would take this long and frankly many couple probably would rush the documentation process but due to everything being so difficult in general it took FOREVER.

If you are in need of someone who will NOT ONLY help you with what documents you need for immigration but someone who is compassionate, attentive, and will aid you with any concerns or questions about immigrating… THIS IS HER. I won’t ever consider anyone else and I am grateful to god to have someone like her as my lawyer during these complicated times. Thank you Mrs. Henning!"

— Veronica G
Naples FL