Federal immigration law determines whether a person is a noncitizen, the rights and duties of noncitizen in the United States, and how noncitizens gain citizenship or else residence in the United States. It also provides the ways by which noncitizens can become legally naturalized citizens with all rights of citizenship. The Immigration and Naturalization Act (INA), the body of law concerned immigration policy, provides for an annual worldwide limit of 675,000 permanent immigrants, with some exceptions for close family members.
The U.S. immigration system created to give immigration status based on family reunification, demanded work skills, and capital investment and other factors. The immigration system also helps refugees, and provides a “lottery” for immigration status.
There are three federal agencies are authorized to enforcing immigration legislation:
- Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) investigates persons who break the immigration laws, and prosecutes offenders;
- U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) carries out the administrative functions related to immigration. It handles applications for legal immigration;
- U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is responsible for security of the borders.
The most common facets of immigration law generally fall under following major categories. They are:
- family-based immigration. It allows U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents to petition to allow specific family members to migrate to the United States. In order to receive residency the individual must demonstrate that they do not have any obstacles to receiving residency;
- employment-based immigration. It allows for both permanent and temporary placements for workers with valuable skills or competence;
- protection of refugees and asylees. It provides immigration status and protection for people who are immigrating for humanitarian reasons. For example, persons who are hide from persecution or are unable to return to their homeland due to life-threatening or extraordinary conditions;
- residency through investment. Also, residency may be acquired through substantial investment that benefits the U.S. economy and creates or saves a specific number of work places;
- the Diversity Visa lottery Program. It is called the “green card lottery.” This program allows receiving residency without a petitioning family member or employer. Each year 55,000 visas are allocated randomly to countries that have sent less than 50,000 immigrants to the United States in the previous 5 years. People from eligible countries may register for the lottery.
U.S. immigration law is very complex. Understanding of immigration regulation can be a challenge, therefore qualified immigration lawyer is often a important requirement for anything beyond the most simple and straight-forward immigration law issues. An immigration lawyer should know the immigration laws inside and out, have experience in immigration courts and can assist in navigating the federal immigration system.