Immigration law comprises many different areas of law. Immigration law involves criminal law, DUI law, civil law, appellate law, and administrative law. To make matters even more complex, immigration laws and the rules that govern immigration are constantly changing and being amended. Furthermore, immigration laws are not found in one central location. Instead, immigration law consists of laws passed by Congress, federal court rulings, USCIS policy decisions, executive orders by the president, and international treaties. To make matters even more complex, immigration laws and the rules that govern immigration are constantly changing and being amended. Because of this immigration law is one of the most complex and difficult areas of law. Despite its complexities, people often attempt to handle immigration matters on their own. Invariably, attempting to handle an immigration matter without the aid of an attorney is always a bad idea.
What are the Immigration Laws?
Ultimately, immigration is the formal process of living in the United States. Immigration law covers family-based immigration, employment based immigration, and humanitarian based immigration. Although the laws governing immigration allow an individual to only have one visa category in practice it is common for individuals to move between visa categories as their individual situation changes. For example, a person could be on an H1-B Visa and then marry a U.S. citizen, which would allow the person to change to a family based immigration.
What is a Visa?
A visa is an authorization by the United States that allows a foreigner to travel to, enter, or remain in the country. Typically a visa is for fixed duration of time. Immigration law recognizes nearly 200 different types of visas. Despite the sheer number of different visas available to travel to the United States, the visas available can be divided into two main categories, immigrant visas and non-immigrant visas.
What are the Differences Between Immigrant Visas and Non-Immigrant Visas?
The biggest difference between an immigrant visa and a non-immigrant visa is that a person on an immigrant visa will receive a permanent resident card better known as a “Green Card.” Anyone who immigrates to the United States with a green card can become a citizen of the United States.
On the other hand, non-immigrant visa holders do not receive a green card and they are not on a path towards citizenship. Additionally, immigration law in the United States presumes that all individuals seeking non-immigrant status are actually seeking an immigrant visa. To overcome this presumption, a person must establish that he intends to enter the United States for specific and intended purpose for a specific and limited time and that he has ties to his home country that will ensure his return.
What are some of the Common Non-Immigrant Visa Types?
There are nearly 200 different types of non-immigrant visas. However, many are very particular such as A-visas that allow foreign diplomats to travel to the United States to engage in official activities for the foreign country. The most common types of non-immigrant visas are:
B1/B2 Visas- Allow a temporary visit for business or pleasure to the United States
F Visas- Allow students and their families to stay in the U.S. while attending school
E Visas- Allow a person to stay in the U.S. while controlling a substantial investment
H Visas- Allow a person to temporarily work in the United States
J Visas- Allow a professor or researcher to participate in programs that promote cultural exchange
K Visa- Allow a fiancée of a U.S. citizen to enter the country to marry
U Visa-Allow a victim of a crime to stay in the U.S.
What is Naturalization under the Immigration Laws?
Naturalization is the formal process a person not born in the United States must undergo to become a citizen of the United States of America. Naturalization is available only for individuals who are permanent residents of the United States. To be eligible a person must:
- Be at least 18 years of age at time of filing
- Been a permanent resident for the past 5 years (3 years if married to a U.S. citizen)
- Been a continuous resident and had physical presence in the U.S.
- Able to read, write, and speak basic English
- Demonstrate a good moral character
- Demonstrate a knowledge and understanding of U.S. history and government
- Willing to take the Oath of Allegiance
What is Family Based Immigration?
A main policy of U.S. immigration laws is to unite families together. To that end, U.S. immigration laws allows U.S. citizens and permanent residents to sponsor immediate family members to come and live in the United States as permanent residents. However, citizens of the United States are able to sponsor more family members and generally are able to bring them to the United States much faster than permanent residents. For more information, visit our Family Based Immigration page.
What is Employment Based Immigration?
Employment based immigration can include both immigrant visas and non-immigrant visas. Immigrant visas are available for priority workers that include exceptional athletes, individuals with extraordinary ability in sciences, arts, education, or business; professionals with advanced degrees or who have exceptional ability in the sciences, arts, or business; or skilled workers or professionals. An employment-based green card is also available to individuals who are able to create jobs in the United States based upon making a significant investment in the country. The number of green cards available for employment-based immigration is capped at 140,000 per year.
Non-immigrant employment-based immigration includes the H Visa, which is available to workers trained in a specialty occupation. H visas do not confer permanent resident status and it is not a path to citizenship. H visas require an employer to sponsor the worker and the visa is limited for a specific period of time, which can be extended.
What are Humanitarian Based Visas?
United States immigration law provides several humanitarian based visas. These humanitarian based visas are meant to assist people who are in need of shelter or aid from disasters, oppression, emergency medical issues and other urgent circumstances.
Asylum is a common humanitarian based visa. Asylum allows people who are currently in the United States and have refugee status to stay in the country, gain work authorization, and get a green card.
Aside from asylum, humanitarian based visas are available to battered spouses, children, or parents. These visas are based upon the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). VAWA petitions allow a battered person to gain permanent resident status and create a pathway to citizenship.
Another humanitarian based visa, is Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). DACA does not grant permanent resident status and it does not grant a pathway to citizenship. Instead, DACA recipients receive work authorization and an exemption from deportation.
Why Do I Need Jaleel Law P.C. as My Immigration Attorney?
Immigration law in the United States is a complex field of practice that requires proficiency in multiple areas of law. Immigration, criminal law, and appellate law all go hand-in-hand. Unfortunately, most immigration attorneys do not practice criminal law let alone appellate law. At Jaleel Law P.C. we practice criminal law, appellate law, and immigration law. This distinguishes us from most immigration attorneys who need to hire outside counsel to advise how a prior criminal conviction or a pending criminal case will affect an immigration filing. We know how to navigate criminal cases while filing an immigration petition.
Many times a person is facing deportation, removal proceedings, or is disqualified from filing an immigration petition because of a prior criminal conviction. In these cases, the only hope maybe filing a post-conviction petition. Post-conviction petitions are high-level appellate practice that most attorneys do not practice. It requires a mastery of oral and written advocacy. It requires the ability to research and write a post-conviction petition and then the ability to conduct a trial by putting on evidence, cross-examination witnesses, and making closing arguments. Many immigration attorneys have never been in a criminal courtroom. At Jaleel Law P.C. we handle all of our post-convictions in-house and we don’t need to hire outside counsel to handle your post-conviction matter. At the end of the day, we have the experience to handle your immigration matter from beginning to end regardless of where it leads because we understand to be a top immigration attorney requires knowledge of more than just immigration law.