Immigration is a hot topic across the world, and it has the potential to unite or deeply divide public opinion. In recent years, the migrant crisis, Brexit, DACA, and US child separation policies have all put immigration in the spotlight. As nations around the world have continued to take different approaches, it is important that everyone understands the different laws which govern immigration, whether you are a concerned citizen, or someone looking to start a new life in another country.
To help everyone understand what it entails, here is everything you need to know about immigration law.
1. The basics of immigration law
Immigration law identifies people’s citizenship, dictates their residency status, and delegates rights and obligations accordingly. In addition, it also lists a number of scenarios where people can be deported and controls how these non-residents can gain residency, citizenship, or visitation rights.
The United States immigration law is enforced based on 4 criteria:
● Bringing family members that have been dispersed together
● Bringing in foreign nationals who can make contributions to the society
● Keeping safe refugees and people who are at risk
● Expanding the diversity of the population
2. The immigration process
In the United States, the federal government monitors the immigration process through the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). New York City has long been a melting pot of immigrants but one NYC immigration legal expert explained that the process is getting harder each year. After a long and complicated procedure of checking the initial applications, filtering out illegitimate cases, double-checking legitimate cases for eligibility, and monitoring the country’s border DHS offer the following visa types:
● Non-immigrant visas - for people who will temporarily visit the United States like tourists, students, and business people.
● Immigrant visas - for people who will stay as residents in the United States to live and work.
A limited number of temporary residents will be accepted into the United States every year. If you are given a permanent residency, you are eligible to work and live in the country. Even if you are unemployed, you can stay and apply for employment opportunities.
3. Ways to apply for an immigrant visa
You can apply for an immigrant visa and start your journey towards residency in the following ways:
● Through family members: Since immigration law prioritizes family unification, a permanent resident or citizen of the United States can file a request on behalf of other family members. These include immediate and extended family members, along with distant relatives in order of precedence.
● For employment: If you are offered a job in the United States, the employer will have to make a petition to get a work visa for you. There are about 20 types of work visas available for applications with different requirements, so you should consider which one suits your status the best. Some work visas can even lead to green card status, which will give you more rights and benefits.
● For refugee status: People who are seeking safety from danger in their home countries are eligible to apply for asylum outside the United States through a transition country. Whether the request is accepted or not will depend on the degree of danger, the person’s situation, and their family status.
● The visa lottery: Through the visa lottery, visas are given out to people from countries that have the lowest immigration rates, to people that have been filtered online based on education and profession. Winners will even be able to bring their spouses and dependents to the United States.
Deportation can be heartbreaking but can occur if you are living in the United States territory illegally and are eligible to be removed under immigration law. You are more likely to be expelled if you commit a crime upon arrival, fail to periodically report a change in address, or use fake documents to illegally immigrate to the United States.
Furthermore, the following are some scenarios that can possibly get you deported from the country:
● Helping others migrate to the country illegally
● Cheating the system and using fraud to enter the country
● Voting illegally
● Threatening and attacking security personnel
Individuals who are threatened with deportation can apply for “deferred action” – an immigration status where they are not granted legal citizenship or residency, but will still be able to stay.
These are the fundamentals of immigration law, but if you have any further questions regarding immigration opportunities, the application process, or policy changes, contacting an immigration attorney is your best bet to get the correct answers. You should always try to stay up to date with changes in the law, and how they may affect your status. This is the only way to ensure that you are doing everything by the book and won’t run into any unexpected problems.