IMMIGRATION FOR FAMILIES, VISITORS, & STUDENTS
United States’ immigration laws include options for family members to come to the country to live permanently and for individuals to visit temporarily for pleasure, business, or education. It also provides the process and requirements for naturalization.
These laws are complex and require that certain multi-step processes be followed and, in certain circumstance, waivers will be necessary before an individual may apply for a benefit. Here at Private Corporate Counsel, we help individuals understand and navigate the US immigration laws and processes in order for them to bring family members to the US to live permanently, travel to the US for pleasure, business, or education, or become US citizens. We offer a comprehensive approach to this process since, in addition to a competent immigration attorney, we have attorneys, consultants, and mediators with vast experience in the handling of legal issues that impact immigration, who are available to assist throughout the entire process.
FAMILY BASED IMMIGRANT OPTIONS
US immigration laws allow US citizens and lawful permanent residents (LPR) to bring family members to the US to live permanently as LPR’s. However, these laws do not treat everyone equally and only include certain specifically defined categories of family members. There are two main family categories, immediate relatives of US citizens and family preference system. The family based preference system further divides individuals based on their relationship to a US citizen or lawful permanent resident (LPR).
Immediate relatives of US citizens includes the spouse, unmarried children, and parents of US citizens. Visas in this category are always available because there is no cap to the amount of visas that are issued on any given year, therefore as soon as the petition is approved a visa will be available and the foreign individual will be able to apply for a visa in a US consulate abroad or adjust status if they are in the US. Derivative status is not available for the children or spouse of the immediate relative. This means that each individual has to qualify on their own or apply under a separate immigrant category.
- Family Based, First Preference: Unmarried, adult sons and daughters of US citizens
- Family Based, Second Preference, 2A: Spouses and unmarried children (under 21) of permanent residents
- Family Based, Second Preference, 2B: Unmarried, adult sons & daughters of permanent residents
- Family Based, Third Preference: Married sons & daughters of US citizens
- Family Based, Fourth Preference: Siblings of US citizens
Derivative status is usually available in this category, which means that the spouse and unmarried children (under the age of 21) of an immigrant in a relative preference category will be entitled to the same status as the principal immigrant. The visas in the family preference category do have an annual cap, therefore the waits can be anywhere from 2 to 16 years and, if the person is from a country with a visa limit, the wait can be more than 20 years.
TEMPORARY TRAVEL FOR PLEASURE OR BUSINESS
Individuals interested in visiting the US for pleasure or to conduct certain business activities may enter the country with a B1/2 visa. This visa is valid for 10 years and, under normal circumstances, the individual will be allowed to remain in the country for 6 months at the time of entry. If necessary, the 6 month period may be extended.
This visa is useful for individuals interested in visiting the US to research business opportunities and locations, as well as engage legal, accounting, and other professionals in preparation for the opening or expansion of a business in the country.
TRAVEL FOR EDUCATION
Every year, thousands of individuals come to the US to complete their education and are able to do this as a result of provisions in the US immigration laws. These visas allow foreign individuals to study in the US and, under certain circumstances, to work in the US after completion of their studies.
Lawful permanent residents (LPR) are able to naturalize and become US citizens after meeting certain requirements. Factors considered when deciding whether an LPR may naturalize include time in LPR status, time spent outside the US after become an LPR, English and civics knowledge, and good moral character. The benefits of naturalizing include being able to vote, being able to live outside the US without fear of losing your status, and being able to petition certain family members (e.g., siblings, parents, married children).
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