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Immigration to the United States
Many people from around the world want to come to the United States for more opportunities, to be reunited with their families, or for education. Immigration law in the U.S. can be very complicated and many people end up having to wait years before they get approval to legally enter the country. There are different types of immigration cases and understanding the difference can help you find the right type of immigration legal services to help you through the immigration process.
What Are Different Types of Immigration?
Immigration involves coming to the country to remain permanently. There are different ways to apply for immigration to the U.S. Common types of immigration include:
- Employment-based immigration
- Family-based immigration
- Immigrant investor
- VAWA for victims of abuse
There are also visas for temporary entry and limited purposes in the United States. Temporary workers can get a visa to visit, study, work, or have a temporary visa because of trafficking or as a crime victim.
When someone is approved for immigration to the United States, they can get their “green card” as a lawful permanent resident (LPR). A permanent resident can stay in the country and has the right to work legally until they can qualify to apply for citizenship. However, if the resident violates the terms of their status by committing certain crimes, they can have their lawful status taken away and returned to their home country.
Not all people in the U.S. have legal status. There are many undocumented immigrants without legal status. Some undocumented immigrants have even lived and worked in the U.S. without lawful status for decades. For undocumented individuals and their families, the threat of deportation can tear a family apart.
The naturalization and immigration system in the U.S. is administered by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). USCIS handles immigration matters, the immigration application process, and temporary visitor visas.
Can I Immigrate if My Family Lives in the U.S.?
There is an interest in family unification and family-based immigration allows spouses, children, and other immediate family members to come to the U.S. to be with their U.S. citizen or permanent resident loved ones. Immigration to the U.S. based on family connections may depend on the relationship to the sponsoring relative and the country of origin.
Under family-based immigration, children, spouses, and parents of a U.S. citizen can apply to get a family visa. Other family members may still apply for residency but they may have a lower preference. Lawful permanent residents can also apply for family visas for spouses and unmarried children.
There are country-based quotas that limit the number of immigrants that can get an immigrant visa, depending on the country of origin. These quotas are limited to people from some of the most common countries for immigration, including Mexico, China, the Philippines, and India. Some family members from these countries may have to wait years before they can get a visa to join family in the U.S.
How Can I Get Employment-Based Immigration?
Another common way to immigrate is based on employment. There are several business-immigration based visas to work in the U.S. permanently, including priority workers, professionals with advanced degrees, or other skilled workers. Employers generally sponsor a prospective employee to work in the U.S. Family members of employment-based immigrants can also apply for immigrant visas and work permits.
There are also temporary work visas but these are intended to be temporary and may not lead to permanent residency. Some temporary workers can later apply for employment-based immigration to stay in the country permanently.
How Do Business Investors Come to the U.S.?
Foreign business investors can apply for immigration under the EB-5 Visa. A business investor must commit a minimum amount of money to a business and employ a minimum number of U.S. workers. Entrepreneurs who are granted a conditional immigration status can qualify for permanent residency, if they meet the requirements.
What Are Refugees and Asylum Seekers?
Some people come to the U.S. seeking safety from violence or a well-founded fear of persecution. A person who applies for asylum will be allowed to stay in the country as long as returning to their home country would put them at risk. After a refugee or asylee is in the country for a certain amount of time, they can apply for LPR status.
What Is the Diversity Visa Lottery?
People from some countries have limited access to a visa because they come from a place where there are already a lot of immigrants to the U.S. Individuals from these countries can still apply for permanent residency if they are granted a diversity visa. Every year there is a visa lottery to grant a visa to eligible people from qualifying countries.
How Do I Get a Visa to Visit the U.S.?
Visitors can get a visa to visit the U.S. for a limited period. This is for temporary visitors and not for permanent immigration. Common reasons foreign visitors apply for temporary entry include tourism, business purposes, a temporary job, medical care, or education. Individuals from certain countries are eligible for a visa waiver for temporary visits for up to 90 days.
How Do You Get U.S. Citizenship?
Under U.S. nationality law, individuals who are born in the U.S. or born to at least one U.S. citizen parent are considered citizens. Others have to apply for naturalization. To become a U.S. citizen, individuals have to have permanent residency, be present in the U.S. a minimum amount of time, and have good moral conduct. Citizenship requires a citizenship application, fingerprints and biometrics, an interview, a citizenship test, and an oath of allegiance.
Finding the Right Immigration Lawyer
If you need an immigration attorney, it can be difficult to know where to start. Contact an immigration law firm in your area to find out if they are familiar with your legal issues and immigration laws. U.S. immigration law can be complicated and the laws continue to change based on immigration needs. The right legal representation can help you with difficult immigration issues so you and your family can stay in the U.S.