Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free…
The United States of America’s population reached close to 45-million foreign-born individuals in 2018. That number does not look to be going down any time soon.
If you want to be one of these fortunate individuals, you need to know exactly how to get through the hoops and into the country with minimal hassle. In this article, we will talk about your options and inform you of your immigration options so you can start your new life in relative peace.
The Process of U.S. Immigration
The process of immigrating to the United States requires attaining a visa to do so legally. These break down into two different kinds of documents.
These are various working visas available to immigrants for learning, teaching, or working. If you wish to enter the United States permanently, this is not the path you should be investigating. It is instead useful to enter the country to organize a more permanent trip later, or for a short-term reason.
When looking for an opportunity to enter the country permanently, there are several ways to do so. We have listed your primary options below, and each application has unique requirements. If you should decide to go this route, make sure to consult an immigration lawyer to make sure you do not miss any steps.
There are many ways to get a legal permanent residence in the USA. Each one requires you to follow a different process, as explained below.
Relative of a Citizen
The most common method of getting a “green card” is to be a relative of a U.S. citizen. To go through this, you must either be an immediate relative or be one of the limited numbers of people given a visa for being a “preference relative.”
For the authorities to consider you an immediate relative, you must be either:
- The spouse or recent widow/widower or a U.S. citizen
- A child, adopted child, or parent of a U.S. citizen. This includes stepchildren and step-parents.
Becoming a step-parent is only recognized if the marriage occurred before the child turned 18. Similarly, adopted children may only enter the USA permanently if the adoption occurred before they turned 16 years old.
Each year there are also a limited number of green cards given to other relatives. These get offered on a first-come-first-served basis, so getting the application in early is very important. This is especially true as the process can take up to three years to complete.
Working in the U.S.
If someone receives a job offer in the U.S., they can seek a green card with the employer’s active blessing. Up to 140k green cards are available each year to people using this method.
This method is not instantaneous and may take many years to attain, although there are groups who get priority. In order of preference, they include:
- People who have “extraordinary ability” in their area of expertise. Similarly, particularly notable researchers or professors, as well as company executives, can apply
- Professional individuals with a high-level ability or an advanced degree
- Skilled or unskilled workers
- Religious workers
- People willing to invest $1,800,000 into a business in the United States, or $900,000 into a low-income area
Those seeking refuge based on persecution can do so. They can do this by filling out a specific form (USCIS Form I-589) and sending it to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. If you are in this position, we would encourage you to contact a lawyer for detailed advice on how to resolve your situation.
Some groups will be able to gain a permanent visa who are not listed above. These individuals fit into a wide gamut of exceptions and include:
- Servicepeople with over twelve years’ service
- Former international U.S. government workers or retired employees of international organizations
- People declared dependent by the juvenile court in the U.S.
- Religious workers
- Foreign medical graduates from before January 10 1978 who meet specific criteria
Green Card Lottery
50,000 cards are available via a lottery system to specific countries that tend to send the fewest immigrants to the United States. Applicants through this system can apply online. The list of applicable countries is also at this link.
Regardless of your method of entry, you may be inadmissible for several specific reasons. These include any of the following:
- If you are likely to be dependent on welfare
- You have violated U.S. immigration law
- You do not have all the vaccinations recommended by the U.S. government at the time
- You have ever been a member of the Nazi party or assisted in their actions
- You are or have been a prostitute
- You have a history of committing espionage or terrorism or intend to
- You have a significant criminal record, either in number or severity of crimes
- You have a drug trafficking record or a record of drug abuse
- You have a disorder likely to be dangerous to public health
- You have a disease the Centers for Disease Control consider worth keeping out of the country
What Can an Immigration Lawyer Do For You?
The above is a very brief summary of the ways an individual could achieve immigration into the United States. An immigration lawyer can often be a huge boon to help navigate the American legal system.
For example, if a border service detains you, you may need a bond to be paid for your release. An immigration lawyer will be able to help you with this situation by following the processes of state to the letter.
What Are Your Next Steps?
Choosing the correct path for immigration can be easy, but selecting the right lawyer to assist you in the journey may not be as simple. If you are having trouble, contact us for more information. We service immigration nationwide and can help you start the process of entering and staying in the USA.