Did you know that the US has more immigrants than any other nation on earth?
At least 40 million people currently living in the US were born in another country. Each year, a million more arrive in hopes of one day becoming a US citizen themselves.
Are you hoping to immigrate to the United States? If so, you’ll need to research US immigration laws and policies so you understand what you do (and don’t) qualify for.
This quick guide will help you get familiar with US immigration policy, so keep reading!
1. Family Unification
Do you have family members already living in the US as citizens or permanent residents? If so, there are several family-based immigration options available to you.
You may be eligible for immigration as an “immediate relative” if you are:
- the spouse of a US citizen
- an unmarried child of a US citizen (under 21 years of age)
- the parent of a US citizen
There’s also something called the family preference system, which grants a certain number of visas to immigrants each year. These include siblings and adult children of US citizens, as well as spouses and unmarried children of permanent residents.
2. Permanent Immigration Through Employment
If you don’t have family members in the US but your profession is in high demand, you may qualify for employment based immigration.
Most workers who enter the US arrive on temporary employment-based visas, such as L-1, O-1, and H visas. Workers who wish to stay longer in the US (or eventually gain residency or citizenship) must qualify for one of these categories:
- “Extraordinary ability” in the arts, science, business, or education
- People with advanced degrees in high-demand professions
- People who worked at US foreign service posts
- People who can invest at least $1 million to starting a business in the US
Employment-based immigrants are typically able to bring their spouses and minor children with them to the US.
3. Diversity Visa Program
For countries with low rates of immigrants to the US, the Diversity Visa lottery could be your ticket in. This program awards 55,000 visas annually to people from countries that have sent less than 50,000 immigrants to the US in the past five years.
To enter the lottery, you need to have at least a high school education and two years of professional work experience. The lottery winners are chosen via a computer-generated drawing.
4. Protection of Refugees
Refugee status is an option for those unable to return to their home country due to life-threatening circumstances. Most often this includes people who experience severe persecution because of their race, religion, or political beliefs.
Most immigrants who qualify for refugee or asylum status come from nations in Africa, the Middle East, or South Asia.
Making Sense of US Immigration Laws
US immigration policies are among the most complicated laws on earth.
For those who hope to immigrate someday, it’s vital to understand which options are available to you. Your best bet is to speak with an immigration lawyer who can offer advice based on your needs and circumstances.
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