Georgia Immigration Lawyer
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Immigration is one of the hottest topics related to countries, travel, and citizenship. By its definition, immigration means people moving into a country different from their country of origin. In contrast, emigration is in reference to leaving a country. It has to be emphasized that these two words—immigration and emigration are very different and should not be used interchangeably. Our Atlanta immigration lawyer can help explain some of these areas. There are many reasons why people want to move to a different country or cities, like Atlanta Georgia – some for employment or business expansion opportunities, others to join family and friends, or some to seek refuge and asylum from their conflicted nation of origin. In the United States, immigration laws are enacted by the Congress and the immigration process is managed by the Department of Homeland Security and its agencies the United States Customs and Border Protection and United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS). In the year 2010, CNN reports that 1.04 Million people received legal permanent resident status. The top three home countries of the alien residents that year were Mexico (139,120 people), China (70,863 people) and the Philippines (58,173 people). Early this year, CNN has reported that 80% of EB-5 (investor visas) were granted to rich Chinese nationals. These numbers are not surprising since the United States remains to be one of the top three countries with the most immigrant inflows every year. Different kinds of visas, naturalization, lawful permanent residency, and green card are just some of the terms that are associated with the immigration process. To some the many steps (and requirements) to immigration seems too tedious of a task, but to others, these are necessities to a better and brighter future ahead.
- Various Kinds of Visas and the Reasons for Immigration
The first step in the immigration process is to apply for a visa. A good Atlanta immigration lawyer can help you do this. This goes true for any age, country of origin, employment status, etc. A visa is needed to be able to travel to a port-of-entry to the United States, but it does not automatically mean a guaranteed entry. For those seeking immigration, an immigrant visa for permanent residence needs to be submitted to the U.S. Consulate of the home country and a petition or sponsorship for family visa may be needed. The type of visa can depend on the succeeding factors:
- Family Connection (Family Based Immigration Visa) – seeking to join family members who are citizens or lawful permanent residents of the United States. The U.S. resident family member files for a petition or sponsorship to avail of this. a. Immediate Relative Immigrant Visa – for close family relations of U.S. Citizen
- Spouse - Unmarried child under the age of 21 - Adopted orphan - Parent
- Family Preference Immigrant Visa – for more distant family relationships
- Unmarried adult-children of U.S. citizen and their minor children - Unmarried sons and daughters, spouses, and minor children - Married children of U.S. citizens, their spouses, and their minor children - Siblings of U.S. citizens, their spouses, and minor children
- Diversity Immigrant Visa Program or Green Card Lottery Program – those who do not have relatives in the U.S. can benefit from the 55,000 visas that are handed out by the State Department. In this program, the people considered are those who are from countries with low levels of immigration to the U.S. The list of countries that usually qualify can be found on the USCIS website.
- Fiancé Visa – alien fiancé of a U.S. citizen together with accompanying children may apply for K-visa categories. This expedited step lessens the time apart while the immigration visa processing is still in the works.
- Employment – employers can sponsor a potential employee as long as the necessary paperwork such as labor certification request and Petition for Alien Worker are accomplished. There are different kinds of employment visas depending on the field of work or service.
- Investment – about 10,000 investor visas are made available in the hopes of promoting economic growth, increase in export sales, and generate new jobs. The U.S. grants alien investors an EB-5 visa once the qualifications are met such as a $500,000 minimum investment in rural areas and $1,000,000 in urban areas.
- Adoption – children who are adopted from abroad can be brought to the U.S. and granted a visa as long as the adoption agency processes are carefully followed. Children who are lawfully adopted may qualify for a family-based immigration visa.
- Seeking asylum – people seeking protection from well-founded fear of prosecution in their home country (due to race, politics, nationality, religion, and social group membership) may be granted visas as long as the due process is followed. After 1 year of being granted asylum, the asylee can apply for permanent residence.
- Refugees – the process is similar to those seeking asylum except if a refugee has relatives in the U.S. then an immigrant visa may be applied for. In addition, those who have dual citizenship do not qualify for refugee status. There are several nationalities that can also apply for TPS or Temporary Protection Status that allows them to work while staying in the U.S. After 1 year of being granted refuge to the United States, refugees are required to apply for a permanent resident status.
- Visa Application Process
The forms and some requirements vary depending on the kind of visa being applied for. Our Atlanta immigration attorney can assist you with this, but generally, the visa application process for immigration has the following steps:
- Filing for a visa and/or petition
- Submitting necessary documents (mostly government issued and translated materials as proof of identity)
- Medical examination (consists of a basic physical exam with accredited physicians)
- Visa interview of the applicant with the consular officer at the United States Consulate office in the home country (schedule will be set by the National Visa Center or NVC)
- Issuance or denial of visa depending on the documents presented and the turn out of the interview.
It has to be noted that the visa application takes time and costs some amount of money for processing fees, document translation, and other preparations.
- Lawful Permanent Residency
A person granted an immigration visa is called a lawful permanent resident (LPR). Also known as permanent resident aliens or resident alien permit holder, these LPRs are also holders of the green card. Green Card holders have rights and responsibilities similar to permanent residents of the United States. Violations of the law may lead to the grounds for revocation of lawful permanent resident status.
- The green card is currently actually pink, but was once green, thus its name. It contains vital information, which is why it must be kept by cardholders with them at all times.
- Some green cards fall under the conditional permanent residence category (green card by marriage and green card for entrepreneurs) which means the validity only holds for 2 years. The conditions of the card must be removed during the 90 days before the expiry of the card because it cannot be renewed.
Naturalization is the step after permanent residency; it is the process by which U.S. citizenship is given to a foreign national who has fulfilled all the requirements as posited by the Congress in the Immigration and Nationality Law. Contact our Atlanta immigration lawyer for further clarification. However:
- Those who have been a lawful permanent resident of the United States for at least 5 years and meet all the other eligibility requirements may apply for naturalization.
- Spouses of U.S. citizens who have been permanent residents for at least 3 years may apply for Naturalization for Spouses of U.S. citizens
- Children of U.S. citizens born or residing outside of the United States may be eligible for Citizenship through Parents.
- Some of the additional naturalization requirements comprise of continuous residence in the United States as a green card holder until the time of naturalization, be able to write, read, as well as speak English, have understanding and knowledge of United States government and history.
- Grounds for Deportation
A 1996 law states that a non-U.S. citizen who receives jail time of at least a year may be deported from the United States. This law is especially helpful in curtailing illegal immigration, drug syndication, gang violence, and other organized crimes. Statistically speaking, the undocumented immigrant population has grown to 27% between the years 2000 to 2009 and in 2012, the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement has removed 409,849 undocumented immigrants, most of which accepted repatriation to their home countries. In short, the basic grounds for deportation revolve around illegal activities, and violations of state and federal laws. Immigration to the United States can truly bring forth a myriad of opportunities. For whatever reasons foreign nationals may want to move from their country of origin to the United States, the most important thing to remember is to follow the procedures to the tee to avoid getting into mishaps and having to do things over. As the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) always reminds its applicants, it is important to be wary of fraudulent activities that opportunists may present along the road to immigration. And once immigration has already been granted, it is but just a new beginning in a new country with similar principles of humanity that holds the world over. Call our immigration lawyer in Atlanta for a free consultation.
Consult with our Atlanta immigration lawyer today.