IMMIGRATION

Practicing in all areas of immigration law with an emphasis on family based and employment based naturalization.  Additional immigration services include visas and work permits for assignments in the United States.


How many immigration applications are filed each year?

According to the American Immigration Center, the United States Customs and Immigration Services (USCIS) receives and processes approximately 6 million immigration applications annually.

How many different types of U.S. visas are there?

There are 2 basic types of U.S. visas: immigrant visas and non-immigrant visas. Immigrant visas are for persons entering the U.S. permanently. Non-immigrant visas are for persons entering the U.S. temporarily. Combined, there are more than 180 different types of U.S. visas.

How many different kinds of immigrant visas are there?

There are generally 3 different types of immigrant visas: family based immigrant visas (which include immediate relative immigrant visas and family preference immigrant visas), employment based immigrant visas, and a diversity visa based on a lottery system.

What are the criteria for qualifying for an employment based immigrant visa?

There are generally 5 different kinds of employment based immigrant visas defined as EB-1, EB-2, EB-3, EB-4 and EB-5. The criteria for qualifying for an employment based immigrant visa are generally the following: EB-1 (persons with extraordinary ability also known as priority workers), EB-2 (workers with advanced degrees or exceptional ability), EB-3 (professionals and skilled and unskilled workers), EB-4 (special workers including but not limited to religious workers, translators and broadcasters), and EB-5 (ndividual investors who are investing in a U.S. commercial enterprise -- $1,000,000 in a U.S. business or $500,000 in a targeted economic area, either of which must generate or preserve 10 permanent full time jobs for qualified U.S. workers).

What is a targeted economic area?

A targeted economic area is generally defined as a rural area or an area experiencing unemployment of at least 150% of the national average.

How many employment based immigrant visas are granted annually?

Up to 140,000 employment based immigrant visas are granted annually. Of these, only 10,000 are granted to EB-5 immigrant investors plus their family members.

What are the criteria for qualifying for a family based immigrant visa?

Generally, you must be either an immediate relative (IR-1 through 5 visas) of a sponsoring U.S. citizen or qualify under one of the four family preference categories (F1 through 4 visas). A crucial difference between these two categories is that there are no annual limits on IR visas.

Who qualifies as an immediate relative under the IR visas?

Immediate relatives generally include spouses of a U.S. citizen (IR-1), unmarried children under 21 years of age with at least one parent that is a U.S. citizen (IR-2), orphans under the age of 16 adopted by a U.S. citizen (IR-3 and IR-4), or the parent of a U.S. citizen (IR-5).

In addition, a U.S. citizen may file a petition for a foreign national fiance(e) if, among other qualifications, they intend to marry within 90 days of the fiance(e) entering the U.S (K-1 visa).

What happens if an unmarried child of a U.S. citizen turns 21 years of age after their immigrant visa petition is filed but before it is granted?

Their status as an immediate relative remains protected under the Child Status Protection Act so long as they were under 21 years of age at the time their immediate relative immigrant visa petition was filed.

What happens if an unmarried child under 21 years of age of a U.S. citizen becomes married after their immediate relative immigrant visa petition is filed but before it is granted?

In such an event, their status changes from immediate relative to one of the four family preference categories.

What are the four family preference categories?

The four family preference categories generally include unmarried children of any age of a U.S. citizen (F1), unmarried children under age 21 and spouses of legal permanent residents (F-2), children of any age of a U.S. citizen (F-3), and siblings of U.S. citizens (F-4).

In addition, persons who entered the U.S. as a refugee or who were granted asylee status within the past 2 years may petition for certain family members (spouse or child under 21 years of age) to obtain derivative refugee or asylee status.

What is the difference between a refugee and an asylee?

Generally, a refugee is a person granted refugee status before they arrive in the U.S. An asylee tends to be a person who applied for asylum after entering the U.S. as a non-immigrant or illegally. Among other criteria, refugee and asylums must demonstrate that they were persecuted or fear persecution due to race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or membership in a particular social group.

What is he difference between refugees/asylees and a person with temporary protected status?

Temporary protected status only grants a foreign national temporary admission to the U.S. premised on temporary hazardous conditions in that foreign national's country. These hazardous conditions may include ongoing armed conflict, environmental disasters, or epidemics.

Persons who have lived illegally in the U.S. for more than 10 years may attempt to prove that their U.S. citizen spouse or children will face extreme hardship if they are deported.

What constitutes extreme hardship?

This is generally decided on a case by case basis. While still unclear, extreme hardship has been defined as hardship that is greater than what the U.S. citizen spouse or children would normally experience. Certain criteria used to attempt to establish extreme hardship include a U.S spouse/children who rely on the person for medical care or are financially dependent on that person.

How many family based immigrant visas are granted annually?

As stated previously, there is no limit on the number of visas granted to immediate relatives annually. However, only up to 480,000 family-based immigrant visas are granted annually.

How many diversity immigrant visas are granted annually?

Up to 50,000 diversity immigrant visas are granted annually.

What are the qualifying criteria for a diversity immigrant visa?

Diversity immigrant visas are drawn from randomly selected individuals who come from countries with low rates of immigration to the U.S.