“I had always hoped that this land might become a safe and agreeable asylum to the virtuous and persecuted part of mankind, to whatever nation they might belong.”
President George Washington
VISAS & STUDENT VISAS
Visas fall into two categories:
Immigrant visas - Applicants who are interested in immigrating to the U.S. on a permanent basis will need to apply for an immigrant visa. This can be done through asylum, refugee status, family based immigration and employment based immigration. This process is quite complex and involves a number of different steps.
Nonimmigrant visas - Applicants who are interested in visiting the U.S. on a temporary basis for a specific reason will need to apply for a nonimmigrant visa. A few of the different types of nonimmigrant visas include family visas, investor visas, fiancé visas, temporary worker visas, student visas, and tourist visas.
Green cards, also known as permanent residence cards, allow you to live in the U.S. You will be able to travel freely and petition to sponsor family members to come to the U.S. once you are a permanent resident alien. After you have obtained your green card, you will also be eligible to apply for citizenship.
If you are a permanent resident whose Form I-551 is going to expire soon or has already expired, you will need to apply for a green card. However, if you are outside of the U.S. and plan to return within the next year, but your green card will expire before you return, you will need to contact the nearest U.S. port of entry or consulate to check on your status and file for a renewal card once you have returned.
NATURALIZATION AND CITIZENSHIP
In order to apply and be approved for citizenship, you must have no criminal history (in the recent past) and prove that you are of good moral character.
There are a number of different paths you can explore to become a U.S. citizen, including the following:
Serving in the United States armed service - If you serve in the U.S. armed service, this is one of the fastest ways to be granted citizenship. The process can be streamlined in times of war and peace.
Basic path to citizenship - If you are 18 years of age or older, can read, speak, write, and understand English, have a knowledge of U.S. government and history, and have been a lawful permanent resident for 5 years, you may be eligible to become a citizen.
Marriage to a United States citizen - If you currently hold a green card and have lived in the U.S. for the past three years as a permanent resident, you may be eligible to pursue this path to receive citizenship.
CRIMINAL IMMIGRATION DEFENSE
For United States immigrants, a criminal conviction could lead to mandatory detention, disqualification from certain rights, or obligatory deportation. Whether you have a work visa or a green card, your legal status within the United States could be threatened by criminal charges. Minor crimes might not lead to deportation, but some of the more serious criminal convictions could very well lead to drastic repercussions.
Criminal convictions that may lead to deportation include:
Sexual assault crimes
Crimes involving weapons or firearms