Immigration Law 101 | New York Immigration

Somair S. Alam, Esq., New York City Immigration Lawyer

New York Immigration Lawyer, Somair S. Alam, Esq.
Immigration laws of the United States are a complex maze of statutes, case law and regulations. Navigating the process of immigration can be a challenge for many, including lawyers who are not familiar with immigration law. This article will help provide you with some basic information on immigration laws and some of the processes involved in immigrating to the United States.
U.S. immigration laws primarily focus on entry of foreign nationals into the United States for any purpose, whether it be with the intent to permanently live and work in the U.S or for the intention of living and/or working in the United States on a temporary basis.

What is immigration?

Immigration is the act of entering a country with the intent to permanently live and/or work there. United States immigration laws encompass a wide range of situations that involve a foreign national coming to this country, whether for a temporary visit, or to live here permanently.

Who can immigrate to the U.S.?

The U.S. immigration system is set up primarily to grant immigration status based on factors such as family unification, in-demand work skills and capital investment. The immigration system also covers refugees and asylum seekers, and provides a “lottery” for immigration status to foreign nationals from countries underrepresented in U.S. immigration.
The procedure for gaining U.S. legal immigrant status will depend upon, among various factors, on which path you are eligible to pursue based on your employment, education and family situation.

Which agencies are involved in immigration?

The administration and enforcement of U.S. immigration laws changed significantly after the the United States enacted the Homeland Security Act of 2002, which created the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).
The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) carries out the administrative functions involved in immigration. The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) enforce the laws and protect the borders of the United States.
Deportation, legally referred to as “removal”, occurs when the federal government orders that a non-citizen be removed from the United States. Removal of a non-citizen can happen for many reasons, but typically it occurs after the immigrant violates immigration laws or the more serious criminal laws of the United States.

What body of law is involved in immigration?

The Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) is the basic body of law of immigration law. The INA is divided into titles, chapters and sections. Although the INA stands alone as a body of law, the Act is also contained in the United States Code (U.S.C.). USC is a collection of all the laws of the United States, arranged in fifty subject titles by general alphabetic order. Title 8 of the United States Code deals with “Aliens and Nationality.”

How does one become a legal permanent resident and U.S. citizen?

While U.S. immigration law provides a path to citizenship for foreign workers and investors, the most common path for legal permanent residence and eventual U.S. citizenship is through family-based immigration. The process of family-based immigration begins when a permanent resident or U.S. citizen files a petition on behalf of their family member in a foreign country.
U.S. citizens can sponsor family members who qualify as “immediate relatives.” Immediate relatives include:
  • spouse of a U.S. citizen
  • parents of a U.S. citizen 21 years or older
  • unmarried children under age 21
  • and children adopted before turning 16
The government does not limit the number of immediate relative visas approved each year. This means that there is no waiting period other than the time required to process the family-based visa petition.

What is family-based immigration?

The family-based immigration is an immigration category that allows U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents to bring certain members to the United States.
The policy goal of this immigration category is family unification. Family unification is an important principle governing immigration law. There are 480,000 family-based visas available every year. Family-based immigrants are admitted to the U.S. either as immediate relatives of U.S. citizens or through the family preference system.
There is no numerical limit on visas available for immediate relatives, but petitioners must meet certain age and financial requirements.
There are a limited number of visas available every year under the family preference system, and petitioners must meet certain age and financial requirements. The preference system includes:
  • adult children (married and unmarried) and brothers and sisters of U.S. citizens (petitioner must be at least 21 years old to petition for a sibling)
  • spouses and unmarried children (minor adult) of legal permanent residents

What is employment-based immigration?

The United States provides various avenues for foreign nationals with valuable skills to come to the United States on either a temporary or permanent basis.
Temporary employment-based immigration:
There are more than 20 types visas for temporary non-immigrant workers. Temporary employment visas include L visas for intra-company transfers, P visas for athletes, entertainers and skilled performers, R visas for religious workers, A visas for diplomatic employees, O visas for workers of extraordinary ability, and various H visas for both highly skilled and less skilled foreign national workers.
Many of the temporary work visa categories have numerical limitations. The USCIS website contains a more complete list of temporary worker categories.
Permanent employment-based immigration:
Permanent employment-based immigration is capped at 140,000 visas per year, and these are divided into 5 preference categories, each subject to numerical limitations.

Is there a ceiling on the number of visas issued to immigrants?

Yes, in addition to the numerical limitations for the preference categories, the INA also places country-based numerical limits. Currently, no group of permanent immigrants (family-based or employment-based) from a single country can exceed 7% of the total amount of people immigrating to the United States in a single year. This limit is designed to prevent any immigrant group from dominating immigration to the United States.

Does the United States accept refugees and asylum-seekers?

Yes, in addition to the numerical limitations for the preference categories, the INA also places country-based numerical limits. Currently, no group of permanent immigrants (family-based or employment-based) from a single country can exceed 7% of the total amount of people immigrating to the United States in a single year. This limit is designed to prevent any immigrant group from dominating immigration to the United States.

Yes, U.S. immigration law provides a number of categories of legal admission for people who are fleeing persecution or who are unable to return to their homeland due to life-threatening or extra-ordinary conditions.

Refugees are admitted to the United States based upon an inability to return to their home countries because of a “well-founded fear of persecution” due to their race, membership in a social group, political opinion, religion, or national origin. Refugees apply for admission from outside of the United States, generally from a “transition country” that is outside their home country.

The admission of refugees into the United States is dependent on a number of factors such as the degree of risk the they face, membership in a group that is of special security concern to the United States and whether or not the refugee has family members in the United States.

Should you hire an immigration attorney?

It is often recommended to consult with and potentially hire a knowledgeable immigration attorney to help you achieve your immigration goals. Applying for a temporary or permanent visa or adjusting one’s immigration status can be quite challenging, especially for individuals who are unfamiliar with the law, language and norms of United States.
Immigrating to the United States requires individuals to submit a number of detailed documents and applications to the federal government. Immigration laws are complex and contain many rules and exceptions. Immigration regulations change often, making the process more complicated.
If you have any questions about an immigration law issue, you can contact me, Somair S. Alam, Esq. at e-mail somair@alamlawgroup.com
New York Immigration Lawyer Somair S. Alam, Esq.
Immigration attorney Somair S. Alam, Esq. E-mail: somair@alamlawgroup.com

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

LEAVE A REPLY