US IMMIGRATION LAW
Millions of people come to the United States each year--inspected and admitted by the Immigration Service with immigrant or non-immigrant visas, as conditional entrants or paroles or visa waivers plus undocumented, uninspected/ illegal entries.
A Lawful Permanent Resident can stay in the USA permanently. Proof of this status is a Permanent Resident Card (Form I-55l) or "green card". Persons with green cards enjoy many of the rights and benefits of United States citizens. However, Permanent Residents cannot:
- Obtain a United States Passport;
- Vote in State or National elections;
- Obtain Government employment in certain categories;
- Sponsor or petition for parents, sisters/brothers, or married children or Labor Certification employees;
- Claim to be a US Citizen--a crime in the USA.
A restrictive law September 30, 1996, created a three-year or ten-year bar to immigrating or returning to the USA even in nonimmigrant status for people who remain in unlawful status in the USA for more than 180 days after April 1, 1997.
The Immigration and Nationality Act prescribes qualifications for immigration-- about 140,000 visas for Employment-Based & 465,000 visas for Family-based immigrants.
The US Immigration Law now admits graduate-degree professionals, significant international executives, substantial immigrant investors, RN=s, physical therapists and renowned researchers and professors as a priority.
On the humanitarian front, Temporary Protected Status has been created for short-term work authority for nationals of countries undergoing armed conflict, natural disaster or extraordinary conditions which make immediate return to that country unsafe or ill-advised. Also, a refugee/ asylee quota is set each year.
Immediate Relatives immigrate to the United States in an unlimited number. Immediate Relatives includes: spouse of US Citizen; parent/s of US Citizen (USC must be 21 years of age or over); unmarried, under age 21 children/ stepchildren/ adopted children of US Citizens; some widows/ widowers of US Citizens and their unmarried children.
Generally, after 4 years and nine months as a Lawful Permanent Resident (green card holder), a foreign national can file for US Citizenship. Upon successful completion of the naturalization procedure, added benefits and rights become available. Dual nationality is available if permitted by the other country's laws. The U. K., Canada, Mexico, Nigeria, Australia, Sweden, South Africa, Greece and many other countries permit dual nationality.
EMPLOYMENT-BASED US CITIZENSHIP: 1st-- Extraordinary Ability*; or Multinational Company Executive/Manager; or Experienced (3 years exp. minimum) Professor/ Researcher with Renown
2nd--M.D. (or PhD or Masters) w/ Labor Certification; Exceptional Ability with Labor Certification or National Interest Waiver; or Professional with National Interest Waiver of Labor Certification
3rd-- Professionals (Bachelor Degree Level) ; or Skilled or Unskilled Workers w/Labor Certification
4th-- Religious Professional, Occupation or Vocation
5th--Investor creating 10 full-time jobs & $.5 to $1+ Million investment.
* Extraordinary Ability in Arts, Sciences, Business, Education or Athletics.
FAMILY-BASED US CITIZENSHIP: 1st-- unmarried, over 21 son or daughter of US Citizen
2nd--spouse and unmarried sons and daughters of Permanent Resident 3rd-- married sons and daughters of US Citizen
4th-- brother or sister of US Citizen, if USC 21 or older
Specialty legislation exists, including a Permanent Annual Visa Lottery for 55,000 people to enhance the diversity of people living in the USA. The program is open worldwide, except for countries sending the greatest number of immigrants to the USA over the prior 5-year term. Nationals of the following countries are not eligible for fiscal year 2006: Canada, China PRC, Colombia, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Haiti, India, Jamaica, Mexico, Pakistan, Philippines, South Korea, United Kingdom, Vietnam. NOTE: Hong Kong S.E., Macau S.A. R. and Northern Ireland nationals qualify. The list of excluded countries is set each year. All other nationals can register during October.
Processing times vary by procedure and by ever-changing levels of efficiency of the US Government agencies involved: US Department of Homeland Security, US Department of Labor, US Department of State, US Department of Homeland Security, Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services, US Information Agency, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Central Intelligence Agency.
The immigration law is highly complex with numerous special exceptions. We are practical, yet creative and efficient attorneys with 25 years experience in this field.
Beryl B. Farris