Many people in Oak Brook find U.S. immigration law confusing, so if you have questions about determining immigration status, you are not alone. It can be helpful to consult the U.S. State Department, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) or an Oak Brook determining immigration status lawyer for information and clarification.
An experienced immigration attorney could apply the federal government’s assessment criteria to a situation to determine your status at any given moment. A lawyer could also assist with determining the status of a visa application.
Immigrant Visas Explained
The U.S. government issues both temporary and permanent visas. Permanent visas are also known as immigrant visas because they enable the holder to live and work permanently in the U.S. Only a limited number of immigrant visas are issued each year.
What Is Required for a Permanent Immigrant Visa?
To be eligible for a permanent immigrant visa, a foreign citizen usually must have certain connections to the U.S., such as a close family relationship or employment offer. It is the person with that connection in the U.S., such as the employer or family member, who files an immigration petition on behalf of the person seeking such a visa.
Immigration Status Based on Family Relationship
Only those in certain types of relationships may apply for an immigration visa based on family connection. In addition, some of these relationships are given higher preference than others. The first preference in family-based immigration petitions goes to those who are what the government refers to as “immediate relatives” (IR) of a U.S. citizen.
This category includes husbands and wives, unmarried children under the age of 21, orphans in the process of adoption, and parents of citizens, so long as the citizen is at least 21 years old. The number of immigration visas in this category is unlimited.
Is There a Special Status for People to Be Married?
Those who are engaged to be married to U.S. citizens have a special status. They apply for a temporary K-1 visa but are often treated as applicants seeking permanent immigrant status. It is important to note, though, that the visa requires them to marry within 90 days of entry.
Family-Preference Visas are Limited by Category
The U.S. government has established four visa preference categories for family members. Both the relationship and the status of the sponsor affect the preference of the category. In order of priority, the categories are:
- FI — Unmarried children of U.S. citizens, as well as their minor children
- F2 — Husbands, wives, minor children, and unmarried older children of lawful permanent residents
- F3 — Married children of U.S. citizens, along with their spouses and minor children
- F4 — Sisters and brothers of U.S. citizens that are at least 21 years old, along with their spouses and minor children
If an applicant’s status changes, it is important for him or her—or the Oak Brook lawyer helping to determine his or her immigration status and notify the proper authorities. For instance, if the wife of a lawful permanent resident (LPR) applies under an F2 preference and her husband later becomes a citizen, she would be eligible to upgrade her status to IR-1 and should take steps to do so.
Immigration Status Based on Employment
Just as with immigrant visas granted on the basis of family connection, many immigration visas based on employment are also limited in number and ranked in order of preference. Spouses and unmarried children of those granted employment-based visas may also apply for immigrant visas. However, most people applying for employment-based immigrant visas must demonstrate a job offer and certification from the Department of Labor.
The first two preference categories of employment-based immigrant visas are reserved for those with exceptional ability, advanced degrees, and/or international renown or high status. The third preference category includes professionals with the equivalent of a bachelor’s degree, skilled workers, and unskilled workers.
The fourth preference category covers a wide variety of specialized situations. Finally, the fifth preference category provides visas for those who invest in businesses and create jobs. A determining immigration status lawyer in Oak Brook could help you determine which category of any of the ones mentioned above you may fall into and explain how that may affect the status of your application.
Get Assistance with Determining Immigration Status from an Oak Brook Attorney
With so many categories and sub-categories, each with different qualifications, it can be challenging to determine your immigration status. Furthermore, because the process of applying for a visa is lengthy and complex, it can be equally difficult to determine the status of an immigrant application.
An Oak Brook determining immigration status lawyer could assist at many stages of this process. For more information, call today to set up an initial consultation.