Navigating your way through the United States immigration system can be a very confusing and stressful experience. U.S. immigration laws are very complex and the requirements and procedures for legally immigrating to the U.S. can be very difficult to understand. At Miranda & Weisman, we know how the immigration process works. Every Maryland immigration lawyer at our firm has an in-depth understanding of immigration laws and procedures and we use this knowledge to steer our clients through all stages of the U.S. immigration process.
Individuals seeking to immigrate to the United States must first secure an immigrant visa. In many situations, individuals will obtain visas through the sponsorship of their family members. If you are a U.S. citizen or a green card holder (lawful permanent resident) you may be able to bring certain family members to the U.S. Under the immediate relative family-based immigration, individuals who are immediate relatives of U.S. citizens can apply for a family-based visa.
Immediate relatives are defined as:
In addition to immediate relatives, the U.S. immigration system also permits other more distant family members to obtain a visa through a family-sponsored preference system.
The family-sponsored preference system covers:
Under the preference system there are only a limited number of visas available each year which can result in a lengthy waiting period and the petitioner must meet certain age requirements. While there are no limits on the number of visas available for immediate relatives, the U.S. citizen petitioning must satisfy specific age requirements.
In the United States there are many different ways for immigrant workers with valuable skills to enter the country on either a permanent or temporary basis. The U.S. immigration system provides a number of visa categories for temporary, non-immigrant workers. In general, many of the temporary visa classifications have numerical limitations and some will require sponsorship by an employer for a specific job lasting for a fixed period of time.
In each year, approximately 140,000 permanent, employment-based immigrant visas are available. These employment-based immigrant visas are based upon the job skills of the immigrant and are divided into five visa categories:
The U.S. government places numerical limits on the number of visas available in each category and also limits how many immigrants can enter the U.S. from any one country.
Refugee status or asylum may be granted to individuals who are unable or unwilling to return to their home countries. These protections are available to people who have been persecuted or have a well-founded fear they will be persecuted on account of their race, religion, nationality, and / or membership in a particular social group or political opinion.
Refugee status is granted to individuals outside of the U.S. and asylum is granted to individuals who are already in the U.S. or are seeking admission at a U.S. port of entry and meet the definition of a refugee. Refugees and asylees are eligible to apply to become a lawful permanent resident (LPR) one year after their admission to the U.S or one year after receiving asylum.
The Diversity Immigrant Visa Program (DV Program) offers up to 50,000 immigrant visas each year, selected from a random drawing. This diversity lottery program is available to individuals who are from countries with low rates of U.S. immigration. Most lottery winners are residing outside of the U.S. but each year there are a small number of individuals who are legally residing in the U.S. at the time of the lottery. The U.S. Department of State provides a detailed description of the DV program, including eligibility requirements and restrictions.
If you have questions about the immigration process or would like to review your options with a skilled Maryland immigration lawyer, contact our Towson immigration law firm today by calling 410-321-4994.