An Overview of Immigration Law

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US Immigration Law Explained

US Immigration law can be confusing because it includes many different ways foreigners can enter the country. The immigration laws cover people who want to visit the US, want to work in the US, want to get a Green Card, or want to become a US Citizen. The immigration system is also set up to cover people seeking asylum, refugees, and Diversity Visa Lottery Program.

If a person plans to visit the US for a short time and not work, they can apply for non-immigrant visa status. Some countries, are included in the Visa Waiver Program and do not have to apply for a visa, others need to apply through the US Embassy in their home country.

There are several different visas for people wishing to Work in the US. Work visas allow for a person to work in a specific position for a specific employer. Either immigrants or non-immigrants can apply for a work visa.

The Green Card is the term used for legal permanent residency, which allows individuals to stay indefinitely. Green Cards are usually obtained by a petition filed by an employer or family member that is a US Citizen. Also, people who make significant positive economic impacts in the US can qualify.

Achieving US Citizenship is done through the naturalization process. An individual must have permanent residency for a certain amount of years before applying. After three years of permanent residency, spouses of US citizens can apply, and the majority of others must have five years permanent residency before applying.

To be granted refugee (already in the US) or asylum (outside the US) status, the person must be in fear or have suffered past persecution based on religion, political views, race, nationality, or membership of a particular group. They must also meet specific security criteria and medical conditions.

The Diversity Visa Lottery Program is when immigrant visas are open to people from countries that have smaller immigration rates to the US. There are 110,000 applicants selected and from those 50,000 visas issued. If 50,000 visas get issued or the fiscal year ends the lottery is closed.