Immigration law in the United States is a Federal Law, which is regulated by the Immigration and Nationality Act and its addendums. The Immigration and Nationality Act addresses all issues regarding immigration to the United States including but not limited to visitors, family based immigration (i.e. children, parents, spouses, siblings), and employment based immigration, asylum, refugee, students, deportation and removal from the United States. The process through which an immigrant becomes a United States Citizen as well as the consequences of violating immigration law are also incorporated in the Immigration and Nationality Act.
There are a variety of visas available to non-United States citizens who either want to visit the United States or desire to live in the United States. These visas are classified as either immigrant visas or non-immigrant visas depending on the type of eligibility an individual or family has. The individual’s situation will help determine the choices and decisions to be made regarding the individuals ability to enter the United States. Issues of whether an individual can work, go to school, get medical care, file for asylum and other intricacies are all determined on a case by case basis depending on the circumstances of each case.
The most common method a non-citizen enters the United States is obtaining a visa from a U.S. Consulate abroad which issues a “non-immigrant” visa or a “permanent immigrant” visa. Most of the European Union Nations’ citizens can travel to the U.S. on a visa waiver, which has its rules and regulations.
Business and Visitor’s Visas The B-1 and B-2 visas (Business and/or Visitor Visas) are temporary non-immigrant visas given to people for business purposes, for visiting the United States for pleasure and for medical care but are only temporary and do not allow an individual to work. These visas require that the applicants have permanent residencies in their home countries and have no intention of abandoning their home countries.
Family Based Immigration Family based immigration is the largest area of immigration. United States Citizens, United States Permanent Residents (Green Card Holders), and Refugees may petition for their relatives depending on their relationship to immigrate (permanently live) in the United States.
As a United States Citizen you can petition for a Green Card for your spouse, children (unmarried and under 21), sons and daughters (married and/or 21 or over), parents (if you are 21 or over), and siblings (if you are 21 or over). You can petition for a Fiancé(e) Visa (K1) for your fiancé(e) and children of fiancé(e). In addition, you can petition for a temporary Non-immigrant Visa for your Spouse (K-3) pending the family based sponsorship and the children of your spouse (K-4) pending the immigration process.
A non-citizen permanent resident (Green Card Holder) may petition for their spouse, unmarried children under 21 and for unmarried son or daughter of any age. The preference categories for Green Card Holders are Second Preference and Third Preference respectively.
If you entered the United States as a refugee within the past 2 years or were granted asylum status within the past 2 years, you may petition for your Spouse, and unmarried child who is under 21 years of age when you first applied for asylum or refugee status.
Workers – Temporary and Permanent Temporary Workers: Employers must file for a nonimmigrant work petition for a nonimmigrant worker to enter the United States and work lawfully in the United States. Classifications include E-1, E-2, E-3, H-1B, H-1C, H-2A, H-2B, H-3, I, L-1A, L-1B, O-1, O-2, P-1A, P-1B, P-2, P-3, Q-1, R-1, TN.
Spouses and children may file for dependent Non-immigrant classification with their U.S. Consulate.
Permanent Workers: There are approximately 140,000 immigrant visas available each year for permanent immigrants based on their job skills. Based on your skills, education, work experience and other criteria, you may be eligible for this type of visa. There are five employment based immigration categories for permanent workers: EB-1, EB-2, EB-3, EB-4 and EB-5. Each of these visa categories has certain criteria and nuances, which are specific to the individual, the employer and the position.
Students and Exchange Visitors There are two non-immigrant student categories, “F” category for academic students and “M” for vocational students. The F-1 visa is a non-immigrant, full-time, student visa allows foreigners to pursue education in the United States. The “F” visa is reserved for non-immigrants wishing to pursue academic studies and/or language training programs.
“J” visa is for education and cultural exchange programs designated by the Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs.
Illegal Immigrant An illegal immigrant is a foreigner who either illegally crossed an international political border, whether by land, water, or air, or a foreigner who legally entered a country but overstays his/her visa in order to live and/or work therein. An illegal immigrant faces deportation.
Deportation generally means the expulsion of someone from a place or country. In general, deportation from the United States is reserved for foreigners who commit serious crimes, enter the country illegally, overstay their visa, or face trial by another country (extradition).
If you or your family are considering a visa application or are facing deportation, contact Raslan Pla & Company, LLC to schedule a consultation with one of our knowledgeable and experienced immigration attorneys. Our attorneys are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week to provide you with the legal representation you need.