U.S. immigration law provides for granting visas and Green Cards to individuals who have a close relationship to either a U.S. Citizen or a permanent resident. These visas are sometimes referred to as family based visas. For immediate family members (which means the spouse of a U.S. citizen, the parents of children over 21 who are themselves U.S. citizens and unmarried children of U.S. citizens) this process can be relatively quick and straightforward and is not subject to any quota restrictions. Click here if you are a U.S. citizen and would like more information about how to apply for a family based visa for one of your immediate relatives.
All other family based visas are subject to an annual numerical quota limitation under visa issuance guidelines that are published monthly by the US Department of State.
The total number of visas available for non-immediate relative family sponsored immigrants is 480,000 annually. When the quota numbers are over subscribed for any year, the foreign relative must wait until the next fiscal year (October 1) and until the visa waiting list for their visa category becomes current before they can determine whether they have become eligible under that visa category.
Immigration stories often involve families. Many of these stories start with a family being separated when a brother or sister or spouse heads off to study or work in a distant location. As immigration lawyers one of the important jobs we do is help our clients figure out how to reunite with their families, notwithstanding distances of many thousands of miles and immigration laws that sometimes make those distances seem even more difficult to overcome.
But there are a number of ways that the immigration laws of the United States may be able to help you and your family. There are rules and special types of visas that can help bring parents and children or spouses back together. Sometimes, once we learn a client’s complete family history, we discover a path to immigration for one of our clients based on something that client’s mother or father may have done twenty years earlier during a prior stay in the United States.
Here on this page we have highlighted some of the key ways we can help bring immigrant families back together. But every immigrant’s story is different and in order for us to help you and your family we need to hear your story.
For help with Family-based visas and Green Cards, please contact the New York Immigration Law Center.
If you entered the United States without visa and are working here without legal documentation, your employer may be able to help you. But it’s important to understand that just because your employer wants to help doesn’t mean you will be able to obtain a green card. The process for obtaining a green card is complicated and depends on many factors, including your prior history (and your family’s prior history) in the United States. So it’s good that your employer wants to help but the first step is to call us for an interview so we can understand more about your situation.
A work permit is a common way of referring to an Employment Authorization Document (EAD), which is issued by the Immigration Service (which is part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security). Under U.S. law, you need a work permit or EAD in order to become a legal employee of a U.S. company. Many lawyers will promise to get you a work permit, but you have to be careful about this. The catch is that you can’t simply apply for a work permit or EAD in itself. In order to apply for a work permit you have to make an application for legal status in this country on some other basis. Don’t believe any other lawyer or person who tells you it’s an easy thing to get a work permit. Call us for an interview and we can explain to you how the process and immigration laws in the United States really work.
As a result of the injunction issued by the District Court in Texas, applications for the expanded DACA program and DAPA are currently on hold. The Department of Homeland Security is not currently accepting requests for the expansion of DACA, as originally planned. Until further notice, it has suspended the plan to accept requests for DAPA.
The Court’s order does not affect the existing DACA. Individuals may continue to come forward and request initial grant of DACA or renewal of DACA pursuant to the guidelines established in 2012. This ruling only delays the start of DAPA and the expansion of DACA.
It’s important that you speak with a qualified attorney who can explain all the options and issues relating to your immigration status. Do not take advice about your immigration case from a notary public or an immigration consultant. The U.S. immigration laws and rules are very complicated and many people take advantage of undocumented immigrants, making promises and charging money without providing honest advice. Contact only a qualified immigration lawyer for legal advice about your case. If you encounter 'notarios' who offer legal advice without a license, report it.
You can begin preparing now! Even though DHS is not currently accepting applications under DAPA or the expanded DACA programs, individuals who are potentially eligible for Deferred Action status should begin preparing their applications now. It is very likely that the Texas decision will be overturned and there will probably be a rush of applicants when that happens. Individuals should be ready with their applications and start now by gathering the necessary documentation and seeking good counsel to give themselves the best chance for success and to avoid potential problems.
If you are a U.S. citizen or have a Green Card, then yes, you can apply for a visa for your family members. But the process can take a long of time, depending on your own status. If you’re a U.S. citizen, it might take 8 months to a year to process the application. The waiting time will be much longer if you’re a Green Card holder. Generally, the sooner you start the process the better, so contact one of our attorneys now to get started or browse our site to learn more about the different types of visas available for family members.
Whether you can travel abroad depends on your immigration status. If you have been granted DACA or if you have a Green Card in hand – you still must ask for advanced permission in order to leave the country. This is called advanced parole. Obtaining advance parole is relatively inexpensive. But it is not without risk, because there is really no way to guarantee that you will be able to return. Your return is ultimately within the discretion of the authorities at the point of your reentry to the U.S.
If one of your employees entered the United States without visa and is working here without legal documentation, you may be able to help this person obtain legal immigration status. This doesn’t necessarily mean they will be able to obtain a green card. The process for obtaining a green card is complicated and depends on many factors, including a person’s prior history (and their family’s prior history) in the United States. It’s definitely helpful to their case if you, as their employer, are willing to help, but the first step is to have the employee call us for an interview so we can understand more about their situation.
A work permit is a common way of referring to an Employment Authorization Document (EAD), which is issued by the Immigration Service (which is part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security). Under U.S. law, an employee needs a work permit or EAD in order to become a legal employee of a U.S. company. Many lawyers will promise to get undocumented immigrants work permit. But you have to be careful about this. The catch is that you can’t simply apply for a work permit or EAD in itself. In order to apply for a work permit a person must make an application for legal status in this country on some other basis. So don’t let your employees get gulled into believing that it’s easy to get a work permit by some lawyer or hustler on the street corner. Call us for an interview and so we can explain to your employees how the process and the immigration laws in the United States really work.