Immigration reform continues to be a hot topic for Obama’s administration. As a result, changes to the immigration system may be on the horizon. In the meantime, it is important for immigrants to be aware of what the current system offers and how to help ensure that they do not become victims of fraud. Regardless of whether or not proposed changes happen, legal professionals throughout the country are concerned that there may not enough qualified legal help available to assist immigrants with their citizenship and visa needs.
According to a recent report by National Public Radio (NPR), the use of an experienced immigration lawyer can make the difference between approval of an application, denial or even deportation. NPR’s report focused on tales of poor legal representation. Immigrants who trusted attorneys who “seemed to work magic, getting undocumented immigrants work permits” may now be paying the price. Unfortunately, some tactics used to obtain legal documents allowing immigrants to work within the country are fraudulent and could ultimately lead to deportation.
Knowing the basics of how the system works may help immigrants avoid becoming the victims of fraud.
- Visas: Often a starting point for immigrants, visas offer an opportunity to enter the country for those who wish to work, visit or ultimately live in the United States. There are many types of visas available, including spouse visas, fiancé visas, parent and sibling visas as well as work visas.
- Asylum: Those who enter the U.S. in an attempt to escape prosecution may be able to legally remain within the country. If the immigrant fled due to prosecution based on one’s race, religion, nationality or political opinion he or she may qualify to remain in the country under the protections offered by asylum. If accepted, an immigrant can apply for a green card after one year of receiving asylum.
- Green cards: A green card provides permanent resident status. This status can be achieved in many different ways, including sponsorship by a family member or employer and through the asylum protections mentioned above.
- Naturalization: Generally, naturalization is the final step in the path to citizenship. Immigrants can apply for naturalization under various conditions, including presence in the U.S. as a legal resident for five years, green card holder married to a U.S. citizen and green card holders who are in the military.
Overall, it is important to realize that each situation is unique. Contact an experienced immigration removal defense attorney to discuss your options and better ensure your chances of success.