Immigration laws are those laws which regulate how individuals from other countries may qualify for an immigration visa as well as under what circumstances they can be deported. There are numerous different categories of temporary and permanent visas which may be available to an individual.
Depending on the reason for an individual’s entry into the United States, there will most likely be a visa that suits their needs. Individuals who are already within the country are required to abide by immigration laws.
Numerous immigrants who are already legally residing in the United States have green cards, or permanent visas. Individuals who hold green cards may seek to become citizens.
However, these individuals cannot engage in any activities that may bring deportation or removal upon them. Resolving immigration law issues may be accomplished more easily by consulting with a immigration attorney.
Applicants for citizenship and naturalization are individuals who are applying to become citizens of the United States. For information for individuals who are interested in United States citizenship, it may be helpful to obtain an understanding of the naturalization process.
To learn more about eligibility requirements for naturalization as well as the application process, see the following LegalMatch articles:
- Applying for U.S. Citizenship;
- What is Naturalization;
- U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS); and
- What If I Can’t Receive Citizenship?
What is Legal Immigration?
Legal immigration occurs when a non-citizen is in the United States legally under permanent resident status. In other words, if the individual is a green card holder.
Permanent resident status can be granted to certain classes of legal immigrants. Obtaining this status is considered to be the most important step an individual takes towards receiving permanent United States citizenship.
The majority of green card holders begin with a more temporary visa and then have their residence status changed once they have been in the country for some time. Permanent resident aliens are individuals who are not citizens of the United States but who are living in the country under a recognized and valid immigration visa.
This grants the individual permanent resident status in order to work and reside in the U.S. indefinitely. In general, the proof of permanent residency status is shown by the possession of a permanent resident card, or green card.
Permanent resident status may also refer to an immigrant who has entered the U.S. under a conditional residency status and they have had their adjusted to that of a permanent resident. A permanent resident receives numerous abilities and privileges which are inherently granted to U.S. citizens.
For example, permanent residents may work and at job legally in the U.S. as well as own property. In addition, these individuals are not required to return to their home countries.
So long as the individual’s green card remains valid, as a permanent resident, the individual may travel to and from their home country freely. In addition, permanent resident status may also allow the individual to apply for U.S. citizenship.
What Are Immigration Services?
Immigration services refer to any type of assistance related to immigration matters that is provided by various professionals and agencies. One major immigration services department is the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
The USCIS is a government operated agency which processes and handles numerous different immigration requests, applications, and forms. The USCIS is the agency that is mainly responsible for handling and issuing visa applications.
In the alternative, immigration services may also refer to a private agency or individual who provides assistance for individuals who are applying for immigration matters, which may include:
- Private immigration agencies;
- Non-profit organizations; and
- Immigration attorneys.
What Are Some Common Immigration Problems?
Immigration law is a broad field of law which includes numerous different legal issues and subjects. Common immigration issues or problems individuals may encounter include:
- Obtaining a green card or lawful permanent resident status: This allows the green card holder to live permanently in the U.S. The process for obtaining a green card can be complex;
- Meeting visa requirements: Visas come in many forms, depending on the nature of the individual’s stay in the U.S. Requirements may vary as well and may often be complex;
- Overstaying a visa: This can lead to legal penalties such as deportation or removal, or a bar on re-entry in the future;
- Removal or deportation: Legal violations can lead to a removal proceeding. In many cases, relief from removal may be available to the individual;
- Illegal reentry after removal: After removal, the individual must follow the proper procedures and wait times if they wish to re-enter the country in the future;
- Change of status: After an individual obtains a visa, it may be possible to obtain an adjustment of status. For example, changing to lawful permanent resident status; and
- Obtaining citizenship after immigration: This process typically takes several years and involves many interviews and exams.
In order to avoid any confusion, an individual should assess what their personal goals are related to immigration issues. This can assist with avoiding common immigration problems as well as make the immigration process easier.
What if I Have Questions or Concerns about an Immigration Problem?
If an individual has any questions or concerns related to an immigration problem, they should consult with a qualified immigration attorney. It is important to consult with an attorney who is experienced in immigration law because this area of law is constantly changing and evolving.
Based on immigration quotas and yearly statistics, certain immigration rules change each year. For example, the number of family-based visas which are issued for a certain year.
It is important to be aware that there are numerous fraudulent scams and entities that target individuals who have immigration needs. In order to avoid these, it is helpful to seek help and guidance from a lawyer.
This applies especially in cases where an individual is required to make an appearance before an immigration board or an immigration judge or for more specific requests, for example, an adjustment of status.
It is important for an individual to compile all of their immigration documents prior to consulting with their attorney. They may discover that their issue can be resolved easily once their documents are examined by a professional.
What is Immigration Court?
There are numerous independent court systems in the U.S. Each state as well as the federal government operate their courts.
Many individuals are not aware that there are also courts which are committed to specialized topics. For example, an immigration court specializes in immigration and only handles immigration cases.
Immigration court is an administrative court system that is run by the United States Department of Justice. There are over 200 immigration judges who work in the 50 nationwide immigration courts.
Do I Need a Lawyer?
The majority of immigration issues may be resolved with the assistance of an experienced immigration attorney. If you or a loved one has any immigration issues, consulting with an immigration lawyer can help your case proceed faster and more efficiently as well as ensure that your chances of your request being granted are increased.
Your lawyer will also represent you any time you are required to appear before an immigration entity or a judge. It is important to be aware that omissions or mistakes on immigration paperwork may be considered attempts at fraud, so it is important to have a professional review your immigration documents.