United States of America: the land of opportunity and freedom, home of the American Dream. It’s no wonder many people want to immigrate to the U.S. But the immigration process is confusing and time-consuming. We can help. At The George McCranie Law Firm, an experienced Valdosta immigration attorney will answer your questions and help you with both your short-term and long-term goals.
What Is immigration?
Immigration is the act of entering a country — of which you are not a native or possess citizenship from — with the intention of remaining or working in that country. An experienced Valdosta immigration attorney at The George McCranie Law Firm can guide you through the complicated immigration process.
Understanding Basic U.S. Immigration Law
Federal immigration laws address the rights and obligations of a foreign citizen who is in the U.S. These laws define and individual’s immigration status. They also determine whether a person is illegally in the country and whether a person should be deported.
The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), a component of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), is responsible for the following:
- Processing immigration and naturalization applications
- Establishing immigration services policies
How Do You Obtain a Visa?
A foreign citizen who desires to permanently live in the U.S. must first obtain an immigrant visa. A U.S. citizen relative, U.S. lawful permanent resident, or a perspective employer must sponsor the foreign citizen for the foreigner to be eligible to apply for an immigrant visa. The sponsor begins the immigration process on the foreign citizen’s behalf by filling a petition with USCIS.
Only a U.S. citizen can sponsor an immediate relative to become a lawful permanent resident through the family-based immigration. An immediate relative is one of the following:
- Unmarried child under the age of 21
An experienced Valdosta immigration attorney at The George McCranie Law Firm can help you file an immigration petition (Form I-130 Petition for Alien Relative) on behalf of your immediate relative.
There are two ways for your foreign-born spouse to legally enter the U.S.:
- CR-1 immigrant visa permits the foreign spouse to become a permanent resident immediately upon the arrival in the U.S.
- K-3 spousal visa permits spouses to reunite quicker, but the spouse must then adjust their status to become a permanent resident after entering the U.S.
If you are a U.S. citizen who wishes to bring a foreign national into the U.S. to marry, you must file a fiancé visa, known as a K-1 visa. After your marriage, the foreign national may then apply for a permanent residency and employment authorization.
Minor Child Visa
An unmarried child under the age of 21 can legally enter the U.S. via different visas, such as the following:
- K-4 dependent visa: Must be qualified K-3 applicant’s child
- K-2 derivative visa: Must be a qualified K-1 applicant’s child
As a foreign national legally present in the U.S., you can adjust your status to become a permanent resident as well as obtain a green card. Adjustment of Status does not require a return to the home country, so the entire process is completed in the United States. The more complex route of obtaining legal permanent residency is through the consular process.
Consular Process is a more complicated way to obtain legal permanent residency than Adjustment of Status. Using the Consular Process, the foreign national is not in the U.S. legally; therefore, they must return to their home country for short time to complete the process.
Naturalization is the legal process through which the foreign citizen becomes a citizen of the United States. To qualify, you must have legally entered the U.S., be at least 18 years old, and have been a lawful permanent resident for a certain number of years.
You may also have a claim for U.S. citizenship based on your parentage:
- One or both parents are U.S. citizens
- Adoptive parent is a U.S. citizen
- One or more foreign-born parent is a naturalized U.S. citizen
Recent Changes in Immigration Law
In September 2017, the definition of “willful representation” was broadened. Pursuant to the new guidelines, your visa may be revoked I a triggering activity occurs within the first 90 days (previously 30 days) of your entry into the U.S.
Triggering acts include the following: marriage to the U.S. citizen or green card holder, filing an application for permanent residency, employment without a work permit, or studying without a student visa.
An Arrest Can Adversely Affect You
If you are arrested while in the U.S. visiting on a visa, or a permanent resident, it is crucial you seek assistance from an experienced Valdosta immigration attorney. An arrest or conviction can jeopardize your immigration rights and status; you may also face deportation.
Contact a Valdosta Immigration Attorney at The George McCranie Law Firm
If you wish to immigrate to the U.S., or sponsor someone, an experienced Valdosta immigration attorney at The George McCranie Law Firm can help. Call (912) 383-7581 today. Or visit our website, www.georgiaimmigrationhelp.com. Or stop by one of our offices in both Douglas: 301 E. Jackson St, Douglas, GA 31533 & Valdosta: 1400 Baytree Rd, Valdosta, GA 31602.