Navigating the Complexities of U.S. Immigration Law

If, in a single day, you talk to ten different naturalized United States citizens, each one will tell you a different story about his or her path to naturalization, naturalized U.S. citizens are anything but a rarity in Los Angeles County. One will say that she first came to the United States as an international student, with a student visa, but she married her husband right before graduation and applied for an adjustment of status. Another will say that her employer sponsored her visa, and she worked as an H1B employee for several years before becoming eligible for permanent residency. Another will tell you that, after a courtship that spanned several continents, he entered the United States on a fiancé visa and married his wife shortly after arrival, at which point he applied for a green card.

People’s naturalization stories may take as their starting point careers, family ties, exceptionally fortunate circumstances that qualified them for investor visas, or exceptionally difficult circumstances that qualified them for asylum status. No two people’s paths to naturalization are identical, and a Whittier immigration lawyer can help you chart your course and avoid unnecessary delays. Here are some things you need to know about immigration law in the U.S.

Immigration Law in the U.S.

Family-Based Immigration

U.S. citizens have the right to sponsor close family members for permanent residency. The waiting period is much less when you are sponsoring your spouse and your children under the age of 21 than it is for your parents, siblings, or adult children. In some cases, the family member enters the U.S. on a nonimmigrant visa, such as a visitor visa or student visa and then files for adjustment of status to permanent residency, with the U.S. citizen relative promising to assume responsibility for the petitioner’s expenses if and when the petitioner requires financial support.

If a U.S. citizen marries a foreign national and the wedding takes place in the U.S., the foreign spouse immediately becomes eligible to apply for permanent residency. A newly married spouse of a U.S. citizen gets a temporary green card, which is valid for two years. If the couple is still married at the end of two years, the foreign spouse becomes eligible for a permanent green card.

Employment-Based Immigration

Each year, the U.S. government issues more than 100,000 immigrant visas to employees sponsored by their employers. The employment-based visa process begins with the employer making a case to the Department of Labor as to why it needs to bring employees from another country to fill particular employment positions as opposed to hiring workers who are already present in the U.S. Therefore, recipients of employment-based visas often hold highly specialized jobs. Some employment-based visa holders are also eligible to apply for visas for their spouses and minor children.

Immigration for Investors

USCIS also issues a limited number of immigrant visas each year to foreign nationals who invest a certain amount of money in business projects for which the government is seeking investments (for example, commercial real estate developments). The required investment amount varies from one year to the next, but it is typically less than $1 million. As with employment-based visas, the spouse and minor children of the investor may immigrate to the U.S. with the investor.  Upon arrival in the United States on an investor visa, visa holders and their spouses and minor children are eligible to apply for adjustment of status.

Seeking Asylum in the United States

Foreign nationals in the United States may apply for asylum status if have a reasonable fear that their safety will be in danger if they return to their countries of citizenship. Applicants must demonstrate that, if they leave the United States, they face a substantial risk of being a target of violence because of war or persecution in the applicant’s country of origin.

You have probably heard about, or even met, people who entered the U.S. without a visa and then applied for asylum. Recent legislation has made it much harder to do this. If you are considering applying for asylum in the United States, it is important to work with an immigration lawyer.

Likewise, citizens of certain countries that are experiencing ongoing political instability are eligible for Temporary Protected Status (TPS). The TPS list currently includes 16 countries.  TPS beneficiaries are eligible to work in the United States, and they must re-register for TPS at frequent intervals.

Contact the Law Offices of Omar Gastelum About Immigration

U.S. immigration law can be complicated. An immigration attorney can help you and your family members achieve permanent resident status. Contact the Law Offices of Omar Gastelum and Associates APLC in Whittier, California to set up a consultation.

A Whittier immigration lawyer can help you with family-based immigration, employer-sponsored visas, investor visas, asylum, and TPS.