The immigration process in the United States can be lengthy and sometimes difficult to understand and complete. There are many different forms to address many different immigration objectives, so it is important to correctly identify you and your family’s needs and which form will properly address them. Generally, those who wish to immigrate to the United States must acquire an immigrant visa by obtaining sponsorship from a U.S. citizen, permanent resident who is an immediate relative, or a U.S. employer. Obtaining an immigrant visa is usually the first step down a path toward citizenship. Those who wish to simply visit the U.S. for a certain period of time must file for a non-immigrant visa. Non-immigrant visas are usually used for tourism, medical treatment, temporary work, education, or other temporary reasons.
Those who wish to work and reside in the United States as a permanent resident will usually need to apply for an immigrant visa. In most cases, an immigrant will need to have a sponsor who is a U.S. citizen or permanent resident who can begin the filing process with a petition on the potential immigrant’s behalf. If your petition is approved, you will then be required to submit visa fees, forms, and other documents that prove identity and evidence of a sponsorship.
For foreign nationals who do not wish to enter the United States permanently can apply for a non-immigrant visa, which allows them to remain in the country for a prolonged period of time and work in some cases. A non-immigrant visa requires an individual apply directly to the U.S. consulate or embassy in his or her country for either a tourist, student, business, or temporary employment non-immigrant visa.
Approval of a visa application does not necessarily guarantee access to the United States. Upon arrival at the port-of-entry, you will be subject to an inspection that will determine whether or not you are eligible to enter the country. It is important to consult with an immigration attorney to ensure that U.S. immigration law is being properly applied to your case.
I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status
For those who wish to obtain lawful permanent residence status in the United States, filing form I-485 is crucial. This form allows people to obtain a green card, and work and live in the United States, avoiding fear of deportation. Between two and three weeks after filing the I-485 form, you will receive a letter acknowledging your application has been received. Forms that are not filed properly will usually be followed by a Notice of Action to reject the application or a Request for Evidence which asks for additional items to supplement your application.
After filing this form, you will also be required to attend a biometrics appointment, which collects an applicant’s fingerprints, photo and signature, so that a security clearance and criminal background check can be conducted. It is important that you contact an experienced immigration lawyer before attending a biometrics appointment if you have any sort of criminal record. Certain crimes can make an applicant ineligible to receive lawful immigration status or permanent residency, and a lawyer may be able to help you work through this issue.
N-400, Application for Naturalization (Application for Citizenship)
I-130, Petition for Alien Relative (Green Card Through Marriage)
A common way people receive permanent residency status is by way of marriage to a U.S citizen. In order to obtain this status the citizen spouse must file Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, along with evidence of the marriage to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. The couple must prove that their marriage is real and that they intend to stay together forever. While the marriage certificate is one document that proves you are married, it does not prove that you are actually living together and acting as a married couple. For this reason, it is important to provide further documentation that would prove you are living together and plan to remain together.
I-751, Petition to Remove Conditions on a Green Card through Marriage
Asylum (Political Asylum)
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