Permanent immigration is the ultimate goal of many people entering or planning to enter the United States. Lawful permanent residency offers individuals a multitude of benefits, including the freedom to live and work permanently in the U.S. Potential immigrants should be as informed about the laws as possible. That's why our firm is dedicated to providing you with a complete online database of immigration information.
Immigrants to the United States are divided into two categories:
1. Individuals who may acquire permanent residency without numerical limitation.
2. Individuals subject to a yearly limitation. There are three divisions of this category: family-based; employment-based; and diversity immigrants.
Family based Permanent visa
Family –sponsored:Family-based immigration falls under two basic categories: unlimited and limited.
Immediate Relatives of U.S. Citizens (IR): The spouse, widow(er) and unmarried children under 21 of a U.S. citizen, and the parent of a U.S. citizen who is 21 or older.
Unlike most other immigrant categories, Immediate Relatives are not subject to numerical limits under immigration law.
Family First Preference (F1): Unmarried sons and daughters of U.S. citizens, and their children, if any. (23,400)
Family Second Preference (F2): Spouses, minor children, and unmarried sons and daughters (over age 20) of lawful permanent residents. (114,200) At least seventy-seven percent of all visas available for this category will go to the spouses and children; the remainder will be allocated to unmarried sons and daughters.
Family Third Preference (F3): Married sons and daughters of U.S. citizens, and their spouses and children. (23,400)
Family Fourth Preference (F4): Brothers and sisters of United States citizens, and their spouses and children, provided the U.S. citizens are at least 21 years of age. (65,000)
If you want to become a lawful permanent resident based on the fact that you have a relative who is a citizen of the United States or is a lawful permanent resident, your relative in the U.S. will need to sponsor you and prove he/she has enough income or assets to support you, the intending immigrant(s) when in the United States. Your relative sponsor and you, the intending immigrant, must successfully complete certain steps in the immigration process in order to come to the U.S. Here are the key steps:
First, the USCIS must approve an immigrant visa petition, I-130 Petition for Alien Relative filed by your sponsoring relative for you. Next, most sponsors will need to demonstrate adequate income or assets to support the intending immigrant, and accept legal responsibility for financially supporting their family member, by completing and signing a document called an Affidavit of Support. Once this is complete, then the intending immigrant will apply for the immigrant visa as explained below.
Employer sponsored Immigrant visa
The Immigration and Nationality Act provides a yearly minimum of 140,000 employment-based immigrant visas which are divided into five preference categories. They may require a labor certification from the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), and the filing of a petition with United States Citizenship and Immigration Services in the Department of Homeland Security (USCIS).
Employment First Preference (EB1)
Priority Workers receive 28.6 percent of the yearly worldwide limit. All Priority Workers must be the beneficiaries of an approved Form I- 140, Immigrant Petition for Foreign Worker, filed with USCIS. Within this preference there are three sub-groups:
Persons of extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics: Applicants in this category must have extensive documentation showing sustained national or international acclaim and recognition in the field of expertise. Such applicants do not have to have a specific job offer so long as they are entering the U.S. to continue work in the field in which they have extraordinary ability. Such applicants can file their own petition with the USCIS, rather than through an employer;
Outstanding professors and researchers with at least three years experience in teaching or research, who are recognized internationally: No labor certification is required for this classification, but the prospective employer must provide a job offer and file a petition with the USCIS; and
Certain executives and managers who have been employed at least one of the three preceding years by the overseas affiliate, parent, subsidiary, or branch of the U.S. employer: The applicant must be coming to work in a managerial or executive capacity. No labor certification is required for this classification, but the prospective employer must provide a job offer and file a petition with the USCIS.
Employment Second Preference (EB2)
All Second Preference applicants must have a labor certification approved by the DOL, or Schedule A designation, or establish that they qualify for one of the shortage occupations in the Labor Market Information Pilot Program. A job offer is required and the U.S. employer must file a petition on behalf of the applicant. Aliens may apply for exemption from the job offer and labor certification if the exemption would be in the national interest, in which case the alien may file the petition, Form I-140, along with evidence of the national interest. There are two subgroups within this category:
Professionals holding an advanced degree (beyond a baccalaureate degree), or a baccalaureate degree and at least five years progressive experience in the profession; and
Persons with exceptional ability in the arts, sciences, or business: Exceptional ability means having a degree of expertise significantly above that ordinarily encountered within the field.
Employment Third Preference (EB3)
All Third Preference applicants require an approved I-140 petition filed by the prospective employer. All such workers require a labor certification, or Schedule A designation, or evidence that they qualify for one of the shortage occupations in the Labor Market Information Pilot Program. There are three subgroups within this category:
Skilled workers are persons capable of performing a job requiring at least two years'' training or experience;
Professionals with a baccalaureate degree are members of a profession with at least a university bachelor's degree; and
Other workers are those persons capable of filling positions requiring less than two years'' training or experience.
Employment Fourth Preference (EB4)
All such applicants must be the beneficiary of an approved I-360, Petition for Special Immigrant, except overseas employees of the U.S. Government who must use Form DS-1884. Certain spouses and children may accompany or follow-to-join the principal special immigrant. Different types of special immigrants provided for under immigrant law are listed below:
1) Broadcaster in the U.S. employed by the International Broadcasting Bureau of the Broadcasting Board of Governors or a grantee of such organization;
2) Minister of Religion;
3) Certain Employees or Former Employees of the U.S. Government Abroad;
4) Employee of the Mission in Hong Kong;
5) Certain Former Employees of the Panama Canal Company or Canal Zone Government;
6) Certain Former Employees of the U.S. Government in the Panama Canal Zone;
7) Certain Former Employees of the Panama Canal Company or Canal Zone Government on April 1, 1979;
8) Interpreters and translators of Iraqi or Afghan nationality who have worked directly with the United States armed forces or under Chief of Mission authority as a translator or interpreter for a period of at least 12 months and meet requirements. This classification has an annual numeric limitation of 500 visas through FY 08.
9) Certain Foreign Medical Graduates (Adjustments Only);
10) Certain Retired International Organization employees;
11) Certain Spouses of a deceased International Organization Employee;
12) Juvenile Court Dependent (no family member derivatives);
13) Alien Recruited Outside of the United States Who Has Served or is Enlisted to Serve in the U.S. Armed Forces;
14) Certain retired NATO-6 civilians;
15) Certain surviving spouses of deceased NATO-6 civilian employees;
16) Alien beneficiary of a petition or labor certification application filed prior to Sept. 11, 2001, if the petition or application was rendered void due to a terrorist act of Sept. 11, 2001;
17) Certain Religious Workers.