U.S. immigration laws is rarely
what immigrants or citizens
expect. Often these laws are
written as much to keep
immigrants out as they were to
provide orderly procedures for
letting them in. Immigration
policies, like any other
bureaucracies, are often not
logical or sensible.
Many people of other nations who
wish to live in the United States
and could make wonderful
contributions to the country are
the very people kept from getting
green cards and visas. In the
current political context, U. S.
immigration law is controversial
among most Americans.
Everyone seems to agree that
there must be some limits. No
one can begin to agree on how
these limits should work.
At the risk of being
rude, most people
have too little
situations, or they
have information that
Common sources of
misinformation are well-
meaning people (friends,
relatives, co-workers), as
well as general
rumormongers, all of whom
are only too happy to share
their ignorance with you.
Typically individuals extrapolate the single
experience they have had with the law or with
someone dealing with the law into a universal
rule that govern all interactions for everyone
they come in contact with.
Do not universalize the
personal. The world is bigger
than you and your
AND there can often
be a difference
between the way the
rules and regulations
are written and how
things work in real life;
system is next to
Permanent class, often called
permanent residence, are
those who become
permanent residents of the
U.S. by receiving an Alien
Registration Receipt Card,
more popularly known as a
green card, that carries the
privileges of the right to work
and to live in the United
States permanently. There
are numerous ways to obtain
a green card but all green
cards are exactly alike.
Temporary class is for anyone wanting to
enter the U.S. on a temporary basis and
these individuals receive what is known
as a nonimmigrant visa. These come in
many different types and they all have
different privileges attached to them.
The evolution of the term
from this phenomenon.
Besides the fact that green cards are
permanent while nonimmigrant visas are
temporary, the most significant difference
between them is that the number of green
cards issued each year is limited by a
quota in each category, while the number
of nonimmigrant visas issued in most
categories is unrestricted. The quota is
what often affects the length of time it
takes to process green cards, sometimes
months and years.
A lot of people mistakenly believe that green
cards are nothing more than work permits.
While a green card does give you the right to
work legally in the U. S. where and when you
wish, identifying the holder as a permanent
resident of the U. S. is its main function.
Years ago, the cards were green in color.
Then for a while they were red, white and
blue. Today they are pink. All green
cards issued since 1989 carry an
expiration date and must be renewed
every ten years.
Green card eligibility is determined by
categories known as preferences and are
available through the annual quota.
Smaller numbers are available through a
lottery system offered to people from
countries that in recent years have sent
the fewest immigrants to the U. S. , those
who qualify under special immigrant
status, and refugees and political
quota is set up
into two broad
quota of up to
Family First Preference
any age, of
Family Second Preference
2A: Spouses and
under 21 years , of
green card holders;
2B: Unmarried sons
and daughters (over
21 years) of green
Family Third Preference
age, of U.S.
Family Fourth Preference
sisters of U.S.
the U.S. citizen
is at least 21
years of old
Up to 140,000
visas in five
Employment First Preference
Employment Second Preference
advanced degrees and
persons of exceptional
ability, coming to the
U.S. to accept jobs
with U. S. employers
for which U. S.
workers are in short
supply or where it
would serve the
Employment Third Preference
coming to the U.S.
to accept jobs with
U. S. employers for
which U. S.
workers are in
Employment Fourth Preference
workers and other
Employment Fifth Preference
willing to invest
$1,000,000 in a
U. S. business
(or $500,000 in
10,000 green cards
Green Card Lottery Program
55,000 green cards
per year are given out
under the lottery
program. They are
distributed by dividing
up the world into
regions and allocating
of the total green
cards to each region.
Green Card Lottery Program
countries are selected
each year, based on
which ones, and which
areas of the world,
sent the fewest
number of immigrants
to the U. S. during
the previous five year
period, in proportion
to the size of their
Special Immigrant Status
are passed making
available to people
which are not
included in the
Some of the current special
immigrant categories include. . .
Foreign workers who were formerly
longtime employees of the U. S.
government or the American Institute in
Foreign workers who have been
employees of the U. S. consulate in Hong
Kong for at least three years
NATO civilian employees
Panama Canal Treaty employees
Foreign medical graduates who have been
in the U. S. since 1978
Refugee and Political Asylees
The two are often A refugee receives
thought of as the permission to come to
same category but are the United Stated in
different. refugee status before
Political asylum is
granted only after
physically entered the
U. S. Usually either
as a nonimmigrant or
Refugees and Asylees
To qualify as a Refugees have an
refugee or asylee, annual quota
you must have established each
experienced year by the
persecution in the president. The
past and have a president also
well-founded fear decides how the
of persecution in total will be divided
the future in your among various
home country regions.
Refugees and Asylees
Applications and their approval are
dependent on proof that you can pay for
your transportation to the U. S. and have
a means of support once you arrive. If
you are married or have children under
the age of 21, your status is also typically
granted to your family, if proof of that
relationship is available. Refugees are
eligible to apply for a green card after one
year of residency in the United States;
Asylees are eligible one year after the
designation is granted (limited to 10,000
Refugees and Asylees
Applicationsare approved on a first-
come first-served basis. It is not
unusual for qualified refugees to end
up on a waiting list. The refugee
quota cannot be accurately forecast
because the number of slots
available each year changes. Some
countries may get many refugee
numbers in a given year while others
receive practically none. There is no
quota for asylees.
From 1998 to 2002, an average of 65,833
refugees arrived annually. This number
has declined over the past few years with
only about 31,206 arriving annually
between 2002 and 2004.
9/11/01 resulted in a
decrease in the authorized
ceiling from 80,000 in 2001
to 50,000 in 2004.
Current law states that a person who
overstays a U. S. visa for more than 180
days, is barred from re-entering the U. S.
for three years. A person who overstays
a U. S. visa for more than a year is barred
from entering the U. S. for ten years.
If the three or ten year bar
applies to a foreign national
who marries a U. S. citizen, a
waiver is possible but
Foreign nationals with one or more
criminal convictions in their past are
typically ineligible to receive an
immigrant visa to enter the U.S.
(non-immigrants are likewise barred,
although the bar is not quite as
broad as it is for immigrant visas).
Drug traffickers are ineligible for a visa, even if there has
been no conviction, as long as the consular or immigration
officer knows or has reason to believe that the visa
applicant has been involved in trafficking.
A person coming to the U.S. to engage in prostitution, or
who has engaged in prostitution within ten years of their
application for entry, is inadmissible, even if there was no
An amnesty or parole does not remove the crime from
calculation of the bar. Such crimes are treated for U.S.
immigration purposes exactly as though the conviction
remained in place.
Similarly, a “deferred adjudication” whereby the
record of the offense is expunged form the
defendant’s record is nonetheless regarded as a
conviction under U.S. immigration law.
If the foreign national has admitted to the crime,
even if there was no conviction, he or she will be
barred from receiving a visa (this can even occur
during the medical exam preceding the consular
interview if the unwitting applicant admits to
prior substance abuse or some other crime).
The following communicable diseases of public health significance
render a person inadmissible:
Acquired immune deficiency syndrome (HIV/AIDS)
Hansen’s disease (infectious leprosy)
Infectious state syphilis
Infectious tuberculosis (TB) (clinically active)
In addition, the following physical or mental disorders can render
a person inadmissible:
Current physical or mental disorders, with harmful behavior
associated with the disorder.
Past physical or mental disorders with associated harmful
behavior that is likely to recur or lead to other harmful behavior.
Waivers are possible for most of the health grounds of
inadmissibility except for drug abuse or addiction. In evaluating all
such waivers, the government adjudicator is obligated to ensure
that the immigrant will not pose a threat to the health or welfare
of the U.S. public, and that there will be no financial cost incurred
by any level of government agency or by U.S. taxpayers due to
the admission of the immigrant (except in such cases where an
authorized U.S. agency has given its prior consent).
In addition, HIV applicants have a particularly high burden with
regard to the “public charge” aspect of the waiver. The applicant’s
U.S. sponsoring relative must demonstrate financial resources
and/or health insurance to absorb the estimated $500,000 plus
lifetime cost of health care for an AIDS sufferer before the waiver
will be further be considered. A person with a physical or mental
disorder which threatens the safety of the applicant or others may
receive a waiver if they submit documentation that convinces the
government that they are fully recovered.
Harmful behavior is behavior that
may pose, or has posed, a threat to
the property, safety or welfare of the
applicant or others. A record of
driving under the influence of alcohol
(DUI or DWI) can lead to an
investigation by the government to
determine whether an immigrant has
a “mental disorder associated with
Membership in a Communist or any totalitarian
Espionage or sabotage against the U.S.
Illegal export of sensitive U.S. technology, goods,
Particularly severe violations of religious freedom
by foreign government workers
Efforts directed to control or overthrow the
Government of the United States by force,
violence, or other unlawful means.
Participants in Nazi persecutions or genocide
Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act