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Green cards received their name virtually as a descriptive term. Prior to 1972, the cards issued to immigrants were green in color. Today, a “green card” can actually be white, pink or mutli-colored and are necessary in most instances under immigration law, for a foreign citizen to be able to work in the US.
There are instances, if you have a non-immigrant working visa or an employment authorization card that you may be allowed to work in the United States legally. There may also be a chance that even if you have a non-immigrant visa, you could still work in the United States.
If you possess a particular skill that a prospective employer desires, you might be able to work around this requirement. An immigration lawyer would be able to assist you or the prospective employer with obtaining permission from the INS. Foreign students studying abroad in the United States could also consult a reputable immigration attorney familiar with immigration laws regarding status to allow you to work in the United States.
Your local bar association can provide names of immigration attorneys as well as a legal matching service on the Internet. These services match you with an immigration lawyer familiar with the always-changing immigration laws and assist you with whatever the situation you're facing might be.
Once it is determined that you are a US citizen, you may in effect “sponsor” relatives such as a husband or wife from another country;
* Any children, regardless of their age or marital status;
* Your parents;
* Your siblings, assuming that you're at least 21 years of age.
Once the relative has traveled and intends to permanently stay within the borders of the United States, they must file appropriate paperwork with the INS or Immigration and Nationalization Services.
This will also require proof that the relationship, such as a marriage, is legitimate. There are all sorts of nuances within immigration law, which is why it is highly recommended that a US immigration law firm be contacted to be sure that all paperwork is done properly.
The local bar association in your area can provide names for immigration attorneys or another avenue to explore would be to use a legal matching service, which can be found on the Internet. These services are usually free, fast and confidential. Once the staff at this type of company receives information regarding which immigration law you're needing help with, they can pair you up with an immigration lawyer in your area that specializes in knowing the ins and outs of immigration laws.
There are actually several ways to immigrate under the US immigration laws. Immigration can be obtained through:
* A family member
* Through employment in the United States
* Through an investment, which could be establishing a new business or investing a qualified amount into an existing business for the purpose of promoting jobs
* Through asylum or as a refugee, having proof that harm would befall you should you return to your native country
* Through international adoption; under the LIFE Act. which essentially was designed for spouses and children of permanent residents;
* Through the Diversity Lottery, which grants 55,000 immigrant visas to people from countries with low immigration rates to the US;
* Through the Violence Against Women Act, which pertains to spouses (or children) of US citizens who have experienced abusive acts by their spouse or parent;
* Under the “Registry Provision” which applies to immigrants who entered the US prior to 1972 and meet certain other criteria;
* Under the “Special Immigration” rule, which might apply to someone coming to the US for religious purposes, a widow of a US citizen or other criteria.
If you feel you fall into one or more of these categories, it is recommended that you employ the services of a US immigration attorney for clarification and assistance in meeting requirements and filing deadlines established by immigration law.
There are certain criteria you must meet in order to validate your citizenship in the United States.
* You must establish lawful permanent residence in the US for at least five years, or three years if your Green Card was obtained by marriage and have been physically present for at least half of that time
* You must be at least 18 years of age; you must be a person of good moral character;
* You must be able to demonstrate the elementary level understanding of English, which includes reading and writing comprehension and you must have a basic understanding of how the United States government works and the fundamentals of US history.
Immigration laws also state that there might be some exceptions to the requirements for disabled citizens or members of the military, spouses married to US citizens living in foreign countries or people that work for companies that promote United States interests abroad.
For assistance with these matters, you should contact a reputable immigration attorney who can advise you on the steps it takes to become a full-fledged citizen of the United States.
The worst thing that could happen to a traveler is to end up at your final destination and not be able to set foot out of the airport. The best way to safeguard yourself against this is to contact a travel agent, the U.S. consulate in the country you are visiting, or a lawyer who specializes in immigration services.
Because this is ever changing, immigration law can be somewhat complex, especially with recent events of 9-11.
Essentially, immigration law helps people with the process of becoming citizens of the US as well as regulates those who do not necessarily want to become citizens, but might be here in the United States visiting as a tourist, temporarily assigned to the United States for work purposes, for academic or educational purposes or again, those wishing to enjoy the benefit of becoming a United States citizen.
These laws would also regulate the adoption of children from other counties by US citizens. Because these laws change frequently and can be complex, if you are thinking of coming to the United States for more than just a vacation, it is very wise to contact an immigration attorney to help advise with this process.
There are firms that specialize in immigration law and can assist with whatever your objective is. To find a reputable immigration lawyer, contact the local bar association in the area to which you are visiting or moving or make contact with a legal matching service, which can be found via Internet.
If sponsored by an employer, you may be able to file for permanent residency in the United States. This can only happen if your employer sees you as having the potential to be a permanent employee. It never hurts to ask!
The department responsible for overseeing and enforcing immigration laws is the INS or Immigration and Naturalization Service, which is an arm of the Department of Justice.
Generally, the American Embassy in your home country can give you a visa, which is stamped into your passport, that allows you to enter into the United States as a tourist and also allows you to stay up to 90 days. It is the INS that is responsible for keeping violent criminals or people with criminal history from coming into the United States.
People with a history of murder, robbery, rape, forgery, burglary, welfare fraud, tax evasion or drug related issues are not permitted to enter US soil.
Also, those persons associated with terrorist activities or those having communicable disease are not allowed to enter. It is also the job of the INS to screen those persons attempting entry into the US who they feel are lying about why they're coming onto American soil.
Most people aren't familiar with the citizenship lottery, but it does exist. Becoming a United States Citizen for an illegal immigrant is a long process that first begins with the lottery. If you are chosen, only then may you proceed with the necessary steps in order to be granted citizenship……if not there is a possibility that you will be deported.
|Jennifer Mathes, Ph.D.|