Immigration Law – Immigration Legal Advice
Immigration law encompasses the entry and presence of foreign individuals in the United States. Within this body of statutes and regulations, you’ll find numerous categories for admission, each with specific requirements. The foundation for federal laws on immigration lies in the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952, codified in Title 8, “Immigration and Nationality,” of the United States Code. You may also find laws affecting immigration in federal criminal, labor, foreign relations and public benefits laws.
Adding to the complexity of immigration are the number of federal agencies that enforce these laws. The Department of Homeland Security oversees the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The State Department, through consulars and embassies, and the U.S. Department of Justice play significant roles in the immigration process.
If you activities touch upon immigration, you need immigration advice from experienced immigration lawyers to help you whether you employ or have relationships with foreign citizens who want to enter the United States.
Why Are There Laws on Immigration?
Laws on immigration recognize that many foreign citizens want to pursue the economic opportunities and political freedoms afforded to United States citizens and residence. Unfortunately, some foreign individuals have unlawful or harmful intent. Immigration control recognizes these realities. The body of immigration laws also serves the goals of promoting family unification, a skilled workforce in the United States, a diverse population and sheltering the oppressed and other refugees.
Areas of Immigration Practice
Broadly speaking, immigration lawyers addresses issues such as:
- Grounds for lawfully entering the United States
- Your status as a temporary or permanent resident
- Becoming a naturalized United States citizen
- Reasons you may be deported, or removed from the United States
Within these general topics, an immigration attorney can guide you through the specific requirements to meet your immigration goals. The standards you must meet depend upon whether you seek citizenship, permanent or indefinite residency, or desire a limited stay for education or a temporary job. Below are the types of issues our Kent immigration attorneys handle, some of which we discuss below:
How Do I Obtain a Visa?
A visa represents an alien’s written authority to. come to the United States. U.S. embassies and consulates receive and decide upon visa applications from aliens seeking entry into the United States. Online applications are available.
Types of Visas
Visas fall into two broad categories. Those who wish to live as permanent U.S. residents or, eventually, citizens apply for immigrant visas. A nonimmigrant visa affords a temporary stay in the United States. These visa applicants commonly include foreign students, tourists or those here on temporary business or job assignments. Those coming from certain countries do not need a non-immigrant visa, so long as the stay does not exceed 90 days.
In keeping with the overall goals of immigration laws, visas are categorized based upon family, business and occupation grounds.
Generally, the applicant for a family-based visa must intend to live with or have as a sponsor a spouse or close family relationship. Qualifying relationships include marital, parent-child and sibling. You may file a petition for an overseas orphan you are adopting. Grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins and in-laws are not eligible sponsors.
If you want to bring a spouse or family member to Ohio, you must demonstrate the ability to financially support the would-be immigrant. An immigration attorney in Kent will examine your assets and income in helping you file a petition as a sponsor.
To get a visa for your fiance moving to the United States, you petition for a non-immigrant visa using a Form I-129F, “Petition for Alien Fiance.” Upon acceptance, you and your fiance must marry within 90 days. Once married, your spouse may then apply for a Green Card to obtain permanent residency status in the United States.
Employment and Occupational Visas
Immigrants may qualify for visas due to possessing various talents and skills. The federal government caps the number of employment-related visas each fiscal year (October 1 to September 30). The level of specialization or particular skills determines the preference for visa applicants.
Near the top of the preference list rests immigrants with extraordinary ability. These visas go to those with recognized standing in science, athletics, education, business, motion pictures or television. Professors, researchers and executives of multinational corporations also receive high preferences for employment and occupational visas. At lower preference levels lie professionals with no more than a bachelor’s degree, skilled workers and unskilled workers.
With an H-1B visa, foreign citizens can work in the United States for up to three years in specialty jobs. Such occupations normally require that the prospective worker have at least a bachelor’s degree (or equivalent). While many such occupations may make the specialty job list, a sample of these include chemist, biologist, financial analyst, physicians, engineers and computer network administrators.
Foreign citizens who engage in businesses such as communications, banking, insurance and tourism may apply for treaty trader and investment visas. Holders must participate substantially in the activities or assume a significant financial stake in these or other service or technology enterprises. Additionally, the United States must have a treaty of commerce and navigation with the foreign citizen’s country.
What is Asylum?
Much of the recent news in immigration law has addressed asylum claims. Those seeking these types of visas must show persecution or a well-grounded fear of persecution in the home country based upon affiliation in a political, racial, ethnic, religious or social group. Often, those fired upon or imprisoned by the home government, political dissidents, those in groups subject to genocide or those in groups excluded from the government or political process will often qualify.
Many immigration attorneys may represent asylum seekers during “defensive processing” proceedings. Here, an asylum claim represents a defense against deportation, or removal from the country. Often, such seekers have been found in the United States without proper authority to be present or were found to be entering without such authority. In claims that are “affirmatively” processed, the seeker files a petition for asylum prior to entry into the United States.
How Do I Remain in the United States?
The steps you take to stay in the United States depend on how you initially got here.
What is an Adjustment of Status?
With an adjustment of status, an immigration attorney seeks to convert your temporary visa into a green card and render you a lawful permanent residence of the United States. More broady, you use adjustment of status whenever you’re in the United States and wish to remain here as a permanent resident.
In a marital adjustment of status, a foreign resident relies upon marriage to a United States citizen to become an immediate relative to a United States citizen. If you entered the United States under a fiance visa, marriage within 90 days of the visa also allows you to adjust your status. Marital adjustment of status assumes that the marriage is not a sham, or merely a device to obtain a green card.
What if You Are Not Lawfully Admitted?
The “Parole in Place” affords spouses, children and parents of those who have served in the United States Military continued residence in the United States, even if the entry and presence is otherwise not authorized. In these cases, applicants for parole in place were not originally admitted into the United States — such as through a visa. Authority to grant parole in place rests with the Attorney General, who is afforded considerable discretion in these cases.
Under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, children brought to the United States by undocumented or unadmitted parents may avoid deportation temporarily. As with “parole in place,” this humanitarian approach is generally discretionary and decided on a case-by-case basis. At this time, the USCIS, which administers DACA, is receiving only renewal applications from those already granted deferred status.
How Are Immigration Cases Heard and Decided?
Deportations and asylum claims often headline questions presented to immigration courts. These tribunals operate under supervision of the Department of Justice and the Attorney General.
Immigration cases begin in the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR). The Department of Homeland Security issues a Notice to Appear to initiate deportation proceedings in the EOIR. Asylum claims may reach the EOIR as defenses to deportation or direct petitions. Bear in mind that deportation is a civil, not criminal, process. Thus, although due process allows you to have legal representation, you are not entitled to a court-appointed lawyer.
You do not have traditional court trials in immigration cases as you might have in regular civil or criminal cases in Ohio or federal courts. The EOIR takes evidence, determines facts and issues rulings. To contest adverse decisions, you take your case to the Bureau of Immigration Appeals. The BIA normally conducts reviews on documents and the record. Its decisions are final within the administrative process, unless reversed by the Attorney General.
If you are dissatisfied with a BIA ruling and the Attorney General does not disturb it, you must file a petition for judicial review in a United States District Court. Reviews by that court and the federal appellate courts occurs solely on the record, with the administrative rulings being overturned only if legally erroneous or arbitrary and capricious.
Contact Us for Immigration Advice and Help
Wherever you find yourself in the immigration process, contact Williams, Kratcoski & Can in Kent for immigration advice and to protect your rights about coming into and staying in the United States.
As proponents of the concept that immigration builds a stronger, more stable nation, Williams, Kratcoski & Can help individuals, families, small businesses and large corporations get established in America.