Immigration, like so many areas of the law, is very complex. It is absolutely imperative that one utilize the services of an attorney well versed in the area of immigration and naturalization to ensure that person's interests are properly represented.
What is immigration?
Immigration has been defined as the act of coming into a country of foreigners for the purpose of permanent residence.
In the United States, the acts of coming and going by a foreigner who wishes to establish a permanent residence or a temporary residence for work purposes is controlled by the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS).
If a person is born in the United States, even if the parents are not U.S. citizens, that person is automatically a U.S. citizen.nship from the INS. If one is not born in the United States or born of parents who are U.S. citizens, the only way to become a U.S. citizen is through naturalization.
If a person is not born in the United States but both parents are U.S. citizens, that person can receive a certificate of citize
What is naturalization?
Naturalization is the process an individual goes through after filing a petition for citizenship with the INS. There are certain requirements the petitioner must meet when attempting naturalization;
- A person must demonstrate that he or she is of a good moral character.
- An individual must be at least eighteen years of age and a permanent resident for at least five years. An individual who has married a U.S. citizen can apply for naturalization after three years if the individual can demonstrate that the marriage is not a fictional marriage, but one where the couple has actually resided together and been married for at least three years.
An individual must also demonstrate competency in the English language, knowledge of how the U.S. is governed and knowledge of American history.
What if an individual merely wants to visit the United States for a vacation, for an education or to work?
In order to enter the United States to vacation, pursue educational opportunities or to work, a visa is required.
What is a visa?
Visas are permits or passes that allow an individual to come into the United States. There are different types of visas:
- Tourist visas allow an individual to remain in the U.S. up to six months. If the individual decides to extend the vacation beyond six months, application can be made to the INS. If an individual is traveling for business or pleasure and his or her stay in the United states will be for ninety days or less, that person may not require a visa if he or she is from any of the following countries:
- New Zealand
- San Marino
- United Kingdom
Student visas are for students who are coming to the United States to seek an education, on a full-time basis, from an established or an accredited institution. These visas are temporary.
Immigrant visas are for individuals who plan on permanently staying in the United States. These visas are often referred to as green cards.
Employment visas can be issued if a U.S. company can convince the Department of Labor that a foreign worker has unique skills and abilities and that no American workers will be displaced from their jobs if the foreign worker is hired.
What does the term "political asylum" mean?
Political asylum is the term for when people flee their homeland and attempt to relocate in the United States for fear they will be harmed or killed because of their political beliefs and philosophies. In recent years this has been expanded to include situations where a person, if forced to return to his or her homeland, would become a battered spouse. All such situations are reviewed by the INS to determine if there is potential for harm to the individual, or if the allegations were fabricated for the purpose of being allowed into the United States.
As stated at the beginning of this section, immigration is extremely complicated. The area of immigration law has gone through great changes in the past several years, especially since 1996, when Congress passed a revision of the Immigration and Naturalization Act. It is important to retain an attorney who specializes in this area if you have specific inquiries concerning immigration and naturalization.