Although some types of family-based visas are not difficult to obtain, many applications are rejected because they were incorrectly filled out or improperly submitted. Supporting documentation must all be submitted with the application in order for it to be considered by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Contacting an attorney who understands the complexities of United States immigration law will ensure that your paperwork is complete and correctly submitted and that your interests are represented.
Help With All Your Temporary and Permanent Immigration Needs
Often, whether or not you will obtain the temporary visa or permanent green card comes down to the immigration lawyer you hire. Immigration law can be confusing, frustrating, and involve a very long process. An error in your visa application may result in delays.
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Frequently Asked Questions about Immigrant Visas
Q: What is an immigrant visa?
A: An immigrant visa is a document that allows a person who plans to move to the United States on a permanent basis to apply for entry to the U.S. People who wish to become permanent residents of the U.S. may qualify for an immigrant visa based on employment, a family relationship, diversity immigrant or refugee status, or other special circumstances.
Q: What is the difference between an immigrant visa and a nonimmigrant visa?
A: An immigrant visa holder who is granted admission to the United States is issued a Form I-551 (also known as a "green card") and becomes a permanent resident alien. A permanent resident alien may live and work indefinitely in the U.S. On the other hand, a nonimmigrant visa holder who is granted admission to the U.S. may only live in the U.S. for a limited period of time and for a particular purpose (to seek medical attention, conduct business, or study, for example).
Q: What documents do I need to file an immigrant visa petition?
A: If you are a United States citizen or a lawful permanent resident who wishes to file an immigrant visa petition for a relative, you will need documentation to prove your U.S. citizenship / lawful permanent resident status and your relationship to the relative. A copy of a U.S. birth certificate, U.S. passport, naturalization certificate or certificate of citizenship, or Report of Birth Abroad of a Citizen of the United States are acceptable documents to show U.S. citizenship / lawful permanent resident status. Documents to prove family relationship vary based on the type of relationship.
Q: What is a "green card?"
A: A Permanent Resident Card (Form I-551), also known a "green card," is evidence of a person's status as, and entitlement to the rights and benefits of, a lawful permanent resident alien. Lawful permanent residents are "qualified" non-citizens eligible for certain federal benefits, are authorized to work in the United States, and are afforded other rights and benefits not available to many other non-citizens.
Q: What is required to have a fiancé(e) enter the United States to marry a U.S. citizen?
A: If you are a United States citizen who wishes to have his or her fiancé(e) enter the United States to marry, you must file a Petition for Alien Fiancé(e) (Form I-129F) to obtain a K-1 visa. In addition to providing documentation to prove your U.S. citizenship, you will need to provide documents to prove that you and your fiancé(e) can legally marry, including copies of evidence that you and your fiancé(e) have personally met within the last two years (or evidence and a statement explaining why you have not), original statements and copies of evidence to establish your mutual intent to marry, proof of consent or permission to marry (if required in the state in which you will marry), copies of documents showing that each prior marriage was legally terminated (if either you or your fiancé(e) were married before), and passport-style color photographs of yourself and your fiancé(e).
Q: How long can a person remain outside of the United States without losing his or her immigrant status?
A: Generally, a lawful permanent resident who travels outside the United States for less than a year does not need to apply for entry to the U.S. upon his or her return. However, a reentry permit is required if a trip outside the U.S. is to be longer than a year but less than two years. A reentry permit should be arranged prior to leaving the United States.
Q: Why aren't natives of all countries eligible for the Diversity Lottery?
A: Diversity visas are meant to provide immigration opportunities to people from countries other than the countries that already send large numbers of immigrants to the United States. The list of countries included in the Diversity Lottery is updated every five years based upon employment-based and family-based immigration statistics.
Q: When does a person need to hire an immigration attorney?
A: Most employers that sponsor foreign nationals for employment-based immigration have their own attorneys who will handle the immigration proceedings. Unless an employer is handling immigration matters for a potential employee, it is essential that an individual seeking permanent residency in the United States hire an immigration lawyer who keeps up on the United States' rapidly changing immigration laws.
In just the past few years, the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) was disassembled and its functions moved to other departments. Immigration now involves proceedings before the United States Department of Homeland Security, including the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) division. Procedures have also been updated and standards heightened.
An experienced immigration attorney knows how to deal with these changes and can help potential immigrants avoid having their petitions rejected because of technicalities and failure to understand the complexities of U.S. immigration law. An immigration attorney can help avoid those problems.
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