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Immigration Law Sub TopicsBACK TO LEGAL
- Green Cards - Permanent Residence
- Immigration Law Basics
- Nonimmigrant Visas / Temporary Visas
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Welcome to FreeAdvice, home of the web’s best kept information about Immigration Law. This page provides links to free advice regarding citizenship eligibility requirements, process and application; green cards, student, tourist and work visas; asylum and much more.
US Immigration Laws
Immigration law is almost exclusively a federal issue, though some states do attempt to impose their own immigration restrictions. Immigration law is comprised of a set of federal codes, administrative procedures, and international treaties. These codes and procedures govern all aspects of how and when a person may enter the United States. Once a person is in the United States, immigration laws also set out how and when a person may apply for permanent resident status or citizenship.
Work Visas, Student Visas and Tourist Visas
Probably the most important issue in immigration law is entry into the country. Immigration law sets out when and why a person may enter the United States. A person may not enter the United States without permission. The process of receiving that permission usually starts with applying for a visa. The type of visa a person will be granted depends on the purpose of his entry. Most visas are related to work, education, and tourism. These types of visas tend to be limited in duration and purpose, allowing a person entry for a set time and only for purposes of engaging in the activities listed in his particular visa. For example, a tourist visa does not allow its holder to work in the United States. Additionally, a person may only stay as long as permitted by his visa. Staying beyond the noted time frame can result in involuntarily removal from the U.S and a classification of out-of-status, meaning that the person is illegally in the country. It is important to note that this status will prevent a person from obtaining either permanent residency or citizenship. Work visas, student visas and tourist visas are covered in depth in our section on nonimmigrant and temporary visas.
Green Cards and Permanent Resident Status
Immigration law also sets out rules for how a person can become a permanent resident or citizen. The two classifications have different legal effects and procedures. A permanent resident can remain a citizen of a different country, but live in the United States legally and permanently by having a green card. A person can obtain a green card either through his or her employment or through a family member who is qualified to be a sponsor. Failure to comply with the application requirements can result in a denial of a person’s application.
Regardless of the type of residency a person is seeking, one of the most important things is to stay in-status. Once a person falls out-of-status, he or she is considered to be within the U.S. illegally and deportation proceedings can be commenced against him or her. If this happens, immigration laws determine whether or not a person will be allowed to remain in the country or will be deported and may affect future applications.
Pursuing US citizenship is for those who wish to live, work and travel freely in the United States and to enjoy all of the benefits that full citizenship provides. Most US citizens became citizens through parentage (through their parents, who are also citizens), but one can also become a US citizen through the naturalization process, which has its own set of requirements and procedures. US citizenship eligibility and the US citizenship process are covered at length here on FreeAdvice.com.
Asylum and Refugee Status
Immigration law also provides protection – via asylum or refugee status – for people subject to persecution in their home countries. Essentially, asylum and refugee status involve a request to enter or remain in the U.S. in order to avoid a certain danger in a person’s native country. If a person is granted asylum or refugee status, he is permitted to remain in the U.S. until the risk of persecution in his home country has ended.
Immigration Attorneys – Getting Help Through the Administrative Maze
The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (a division of Homeland Security and successor agency to the now-defunct INS) offers many helpful online guides for people with immigration questions. Even though immigration procedures seem fairly straightforward, a person should still consult with an immigration attorney before filing a request or application. Because immigration law is administrative in nature, failure to comply with any deadline, application requirement, or filing fee can result in a denial of a person’s application and a classification of out-of-status that will be devastating to any future requests. An immigration attorney is well equipped to guide a person through the administrative maze of immigration law.