Immigration Law: Frequently Asked Questions

To better assist our clients with their needs, our Memphis immigration law attorneys at Donati Law, PLLC have answered some commonly asked questions below. We hope you find this information useful as you move forward with your immigration case.

Learn About Your Rights & Options Below.

What are the differences between an immigrant and a non-immigrant?

An immigrant is a foreign-born individual who has been admitted to reside permanently in the United States as a Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR). LPRs become citizens of the United States by a process called naturalization. A non-immigrant is an individual who is permitted to seek entry to the U.S. for a limited time through a non-immigrant visa.

What is an undocumented immigrant?

In contrast to immigrants and non-immigrants, an undocumented immigrant is a person present in the United States without the permission of the U.S. government. Common types of undocumented immigrants include persons who entered illegally without being inspected by an immigration officer, entered illegally by using false documents, and persons who entered legally with a temporary visa but stayed in the U.S. after their approved time period expired. Undocumented immigrants are subject to removal (formerly called deportation) from the United States but may be eligible for relief from removal.

How do I start the process to become a U.S. citizen?

The three most common pathways to becoming a U.S. citizen: through a qualifying family relationship, through a sponsoring employer, or by winning the diversity lottery.

How do I qualify for a family-based immigrant visa?

Family-based immigration is the method by which U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents bring their family members from other countries to live permanently in America. Not every type of family relationship is eligible. Moreover, the relationships that are eligible may depend on whether the petitioner is a U.S. citizen or an LPR. Distant family members, such as aunts, uncles, and cousins, are not eligible.

What is the annual limit on family-based immigrant visas?

Immediate relatives of U.S. citizens (includes spouse, unmarried minor children, and parents) are immediately eligible for visa processing. All other family-based immigrants are subject to the complicated family preference system, which prioritizes visa availability depending on the nature of the relationship. Family-based visas under the preference system are limited to 226,000 visas per year.

How do I qualify for an employment-based immigrant visa?

Employment-based immigration uses a preference system similar to the family preference system. First preference goes to immigrants in the EB-1 Priority Workers category, which includes aliens of extraordinary ability, outstanding professors and researchers, and multinational managers or executives. The remaining employment-based categories, in order of preference, are EB-2 (advanced degree holders and persons of exceptional ability), EB-3 (skilled workers, professionals, and unskilled workers), EB-4 (certain special immigrants), and EB-5 (immigrant investors). Spouses and children generally may accompany or follow-to-join immigrants who have been granted an employment-based visa.

Do I have to have a sponsoring employer?

Some jobs require the sponsorship of a U.S. employer. In these cases, the employer must provide labor certification that proves that no U.S. citizen is capable of fulfilling that particular job. Our firm can assist you with any issues related to employment sponsorship.

How long can I expect to wait for a visa?

Visa applications are processed in the order received based on their priority date. In family-based cases, the priority date is the date the petition is properly filed. For employment-based petitions, the priority date is either the date the labor certification was accepted (if such is required) or the date the petition was properly filed.

When there are more applicants than there are visas available, the preference category is deemed "oversubscribed." Applicants in oversubscribed visa categories must then wait until a visa becomes available before they can immigrate to the United States. Currently, every family preference category is oversubscribed, and waits for visa availability range from 2 to 20 years or more. Many of the employment-based preference categories are also oversubscribed.

If you have more questions, please give us a call today for the answers you need.