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Immigration law is comprised of a series of complex laws, regulations, and court rulings that seem to change constantly. For those who wish to immigrate to the United States, they will have to deal with immigration law changes until they receive their citizenship, which can take years.
There are generally three main types of immigration in the U.S.:
Family-based immigration allows U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents to petition the government to allow specific family members to migrate to the United States. There is no limit to the number of spouses, minor children or parents that citizens can petition for. However, there are only 480,000 family-based visas available each year for other family members, which includes adult children, siblings, and extended family.
If you wish to secure a visa for a family member, and you are a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident (you have a green card), you must:
Once they arrive in the U.S., they can begin the process of seeking a green card. The process involves a background check, fingerprinting, and having the sponsor complete an application.
If your relative receives lawful permanent resident status, they can later petition to become a citizen. This usually requires the applicant to have lived in the country for at least three years, pass a background check and pass a civics test.
U.S. immigration law allows for both permanent and temporary placements for immigrant workers. There are different visas available depending on the type of work that the individual performs and other factors. For example, there are different visas for farm workers, athletes, engineers, and many other types of workers. Immigrants who receive a work visa are often sponsored by a specific employer. Losing that job could mean losing a visa.
Under current immigration law, there are 140,000 visas per year for permanent employment-based immigration. Additionally, U.S. immigration law restricts the number of immigrants based on nationality.
Foreign students wishing to go to college in the U.S. must also apply for and receive a visa to do so. After graduation, it may be possible to convert a student visa into an employment-based visa.
U.S. law provides protections for individuals who are immigrating for humanitarian reasons. For example, refugees are permitted at times if their homeland is too unstable to return or there is a fear of persecution upon return. This type of immigration petition is usually filed in another country.
Asylum is similar to refugee status, but asylum is sought from individuals who are already in the United States. Immigration law requires such individuals to petition for asylum within 12 months of arriving in the United States; otherwise, their petition can be automatically dismissed. A lawyer may assist with drafting a petition for asylum or refugee status.
The Violence Against Women Act and the U Visa are two tools available to victims of domestic violence and other crimes. In order to receive such protection, an individual must usually have been a victim of a crime and cooperated with law enforcement.
No matter what your need is, immigration law is complex. With the law changing frequently, it can be difficult to stay on top of developments.
There is also a lot of paperwork involved, whether you are seeking a new visa, wish to renew a visa, or are wanting to receive asylum. Any errors in forms can cause long, expensive delays or even deportation.
An immigration attorney can handle this difficult work for you and explain the law to you. They can also represent you in court and help you prepare for interviews with immigration officials.
Any conversations you have with your lawyer will remain confidential. Your lawyer cannot share what you tell them with the government.
This article is intended to be helpful and informative. But even common legal matters can become complex and stressful. A qualified immigration lawyer can address your particular legal needs, explain the law, and represent you in court. Take the first step now and contact an attorney in your area from our directory to discuss your specific legal situation.