certified specialist in immigrationPermanent immigration is the goal of many people living in the U.S without any status, temporary status, or entering or planning to enter the United States. Lawful permanent residency offers individuals a multitude of benefits, including the freedom to live and work permanently in the US. Potential immigrants should be as informed about the laws as possible. Our firm is dedicated to providing you with an online database of immigration information and encourages our clients to inform themselves by going to credible online resources such as the page of the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to gather information in order to make an informed decision.

A person granted lawful permanent residency is provided a permanent resident card or I-551; this card is commonly known as a green card.  The steps to become a permanent resident are different for each category and the procedures and issues can be different for someone currently living inside or outside the United States.

The most common ways of obtaining lawful permanent residency in the U.S. are listed below:

  1. Family Sponsorship
  2. Employment Sponsorship and Investment
  3. Through Refugee or Asylum Process

 

There are other ways of obtaining lawful permanent residency such as diversity visa, commonly known as the lottery visa. The Immigration law allows up to 55,000 immigrant visas each fiscal year to permit additional immigration opportunities for persons from countries with low admissions during the previous five years under the diversity visa program

FAMILY SPONSORSHIP

A foreign national may be eligible to get a Green Card if you are an immediate relative of a U.S. citizen over 21 years of age. An immediate relative includes spouses, unmarried children under the age of 21, and parents of U.S. citizen petitioners 21 or older.  There is no waiting list or preference category for an immediate relative that requires for someone to wait for a visa. This is not true for other categories.  A family member of a U.S. citizen fitting into a preference category that requires the beneficiary to wait for a visa includes unmarried sons or daughters over the age of 21, married children of any age, and brothers and sisters of U.S. citizen. On the other hand, a green card holder, can only petition a spouse and unmarried children and the preference category/waiting list applies.  People subject to the preference category must look to the monthly published Visa Bulletin to find if there visa is available.

A battered spouse or child (VAWA of a resident or citizenship may apply without filing a petition by the abuser/petitioner.

EMPLOYMENT SPONSORSHIP

Employment-Based Immigration: First Preference EB-1

A foreign national may be eligible for an employment-based, first-preference visa if he or she has an extraordinary ability, are an outstanding professor or researcher, or are a multinational executive or manager. Each occupational category has certain requirements that must be met.

Employment-Based Immigration: Second Preference EB-2

A foreign national may be eligible for an employment-based, second preference visa if you are a member of the professions holding an advanced degree or its equivalent, or a foreign national who has exceptional ability.

Employment-Based Immigration: Third Preference EB-3

U.S. Department of Labor – Labor Certification

Application Process

Third preference petitions must generally be accompanied by an approved, individual labor certification from the Department of Labor on Form ETA-9089. In some cases, the petition may be submitted to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) with an uncertified ETA-9089 for consideration.

The employer/petitioner must file a Form I-140, Petition for Alien Worker. As part of the application process, the petitioning employer must be able to demonstrate an ability to pay the offered wage as of your visa priority date. Your employer may use an annual report, federal income tax return, or audited financial statement to demonstrate an ability to pay your wage.

The different immigrant visa preference category includes skilled worker, professional, or other worker. “Skilled workers” are persons whose job requires a minimum of 2 years training or work experience, not of a temporary or seasonal nature. “Professionals” are persons whose job requires at least a U.S. baccalaureate degree or a foreign equivalent and are a member of the professions. The “other workers” subcategory is for persons performing unskilled labor requiring less than 2 years training or experience, not of a temporary or seasonal nature.

Even though a labor petition may be approved, the applicant must still show that he or she is not inadmissible.  Most people that overstay or have accrued unlawful presence in the United States may be ineligible.

Employment-Based Immigration: Fourth Preference EB-4

A foreign national may be eligible for an employment-based, fourth preference visa if he or she is a special immigrant. The following special immigrants are eligible for the fourth preference visa like Religious Workers.

EB-5 Immigrant Investor

USCIS administers the Immigrant Investor Program. Certain EB-5 visas also are set aside for investors in Regional Centers designated by USCIS based on proposals for promoting economic growth. All EB-5 investors must invest in a new commercial enterprise, which is a commercial enterprise.

UNLAWFUL PRESENCE IN THE UNITED STATES AND APPLYING FOR A GREEN CARD

Normally, an individual will have to go to a consular interview to obtain his or green law permanent residency if he resides in the United States unlawfully.  There is an exception in the immigration law:

SECTION 245(i) of the Immigration and Nationality Act Section 245(i) allows certain persons, who have an immigrant visa immediately available but entered without inspection or otherwise violated their status and thus are ineligible to apply for adjustment of status in the United States, to apply if they pay a $1,000 penalty. The LIFE Act temporarily extends the ability to preserve eligibility for this provision of law until April 30, 2001 and with a presence requirement for when the LIFE Act was signed into law, December 21, 2000. Use of Section 245(i) adjustment of status previously was limited to eligible individuals who were the beneficiary of a visa petition or labor certification application filed on or before January 14, 1998. To be eligible, you must: Be the beneficiary of a Form I-130 immigrant visa petition (“Petition for Alien Relative”), or Form I-140 immigrant visa petition (“Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker”), or Form I-360 [“Petition for an Amerasian Widow(er), or Special Immigrant], or Form I-526 (“Petition for an Alien Entrepreneur”) filed with the INS on or before April 30, 2001, (either received by INS or, if mailed, postmarked on or before April 30, 2001) or Be the beneficiary of an application for labor certification filed with the Department of Labor (DOL) according to DOL rules on or before April 30, 2001, and Also have been physically present in the United States on December 21, 2000, if the qualifying visa petition or labor certification application was filed after January 14, 1998.

There are multiple bars to obtaining a green card. If you someone has resided unlawfully or accrued unlawful presence in the United States, certain bars can apply and it is very important to discuss the facts with an immigration attorney before filing any documents.

WESTERN HEMISPHERE PRIORITY DATES

As part of the immigration paperwork process, individual applicants receive priority dates. These dates indicate the applicant’s place in line, which determines when they are eligible to enter the United States. In most circumstances, the priority date is the filing date of the petition or labor certification application and you can check to see the waiting period by checking the Visa Bulletin published by the State Department at: http://travel.state.gov/content/visas/english/law-and-policy/bulletin.html

There is an exception to the general process called the Western Hemisphere Priority Date. A Western Hemisphere Priority Date is a type of priority date that was part of a savings clause in a 1976 law that preserved the old priority dates for aliens who qualified and registered for immigration before January 1, 1977. As part of this savings clause, certain Western Hemisphere candidates are allowed to assume the priority date of a parent or spouse that had filed for permanent residency before 1977. The old priority date can be used with any properly approved visa petition even if it was recently filed. The new petition filed is deemed to have been filed on the previously obtained Western Hemisphere date, thus moving the applicant to the front of the line. Western Hemisphere Priority Dates apply to those immigration applicants who are natives of a Western Hemisphere country. The included countries include those in North and South America, as well as the Caribbean Islands. The spouse automatically gets the same priority date as the immigrant visa petition of her spouse if the couple was married at the time the priority date was established. Two situations arise if a person marries after receiving a WHPD. First, if the person marries a non-citizen in the United States, the immigrating spouse is not eligible for a WHPD. Secondly, if the person temporarily went to another country to get married, the date of marriage may be the WHPD for the immigrating spouse. In addition, whenever the principal applicant had applied, his children already in existence are entitled to the parent’s original priority date as long as the children are under 21 and unmarried at the time the principal applicant established a priority date. Also, if at the time the priority date was established, there was already a marriage in existence and a child was born of that marriage afterward, that later-born child can still use the priority date. Any backlog category applicant, spouse or child, will be allowed to jump forward in line by using the early priority date.  The main problem with the WHPD is getting the proper documentation to demonstrate that the applicant has an available WHPD. If the applicant does not have the documentation on hand, the we can do a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to obtain the necessary copies of documents to prove eligibility.

ASYLUM

A person seeking protection because they have suffered persecution or fear that they will suffer persecution due to Race, Religion, Nationality, Membership in a particular social group and/or Political opinion can apply for asylum that may lead to permanent resident status. The general rule is that the applicant must apply within one year of your arrival to the United States. The benefit extends to the spouse and children under 21 who are on the application at the time at any time until a final decision is made on the case.