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Who Qualifies to Immigrate to the United States?

Despite various anti-immigration measures implemented during the administration of former U.S. President Donald Trump, national demographics for 2018 showed 44.8 million foreign-born people residing in the country. This record-high statistic also shows the number of immigrants has quadrupled since quotas were established in 1965, which underscores the often-quoted expression about the U.S. being a nation of immigrants.

The aforementioned immigration quotas are one example of the management strategies implemented by U.S. officials with regard to foreigners allowed to enter and establish residence in the country. From a legal and technical standpoint, there’s a general requirement of admissibility that applies to all foreigners whether they intend to reside here or not. Once admissibility has been established, foreigners fall into two major groups: immigrants and non-immigrants. The latter group encompasses students, temporary workers, business travelers, and tourists. Immigrants are those who seek to stay in the U.S. permanently for various reasons, and they can be allowed in the U.S. under the following assumptions, outlined by the experienced attorneys from KS Visa Law, a leading firm dedicated to providing exceptional immigration services in San Diego.

Family-Based Immigration

American citizens whose immediate relatives weren’t born in the U.S. can become sponsors for permanent immigration purposes. There are no limits or quotas within these visa categories, which benefit spouses, parents, and children under the age of 21 who aren’t married. Siblings and adult children of U.S. citizens have second preference and are subject to annual green card limits. With regard to permanent residents who have obtained their green cards, they can sponsor their spouses and unmarried children without annual quotas, but they’re subject to longer processing times.

Employment-Based Immigration

Although most skilled foreign workers fall under the non-immigrant visa category, many of them are able to adjust their statuses and seek green cards under some circumstances. These cases, which are more complex, are usually handled by immigration law firms. Within the five employment-based U.S. visa programs, the number of green cards made available each year is 140,000.

Diversity Visa Program

Also known as the “green card lottery,” this program survived the Trump administration, and it grants up to 50,000 immigrant visas on an annual basis. The number of applications isn’t capped, but the participant countries change every few years. This is a true lottery in the sense that qualified applicants are selected at random.

Refuge, Asylum, & Special Visa Programs

During the chaotic and dangerous withdrawal of U.S. military forces from Afghanistan in 2021, many Americans learned about special visa programs offered to Afghan collaborators whose lives were threatened under Taliban rule and who qualified to enter as special refugees. Asylum seekers from Central America routinely gather at the southern border with Mexico in search of protection from the aftermath of the U.S. “War on Drugs.” These are examples of visa programs that offer a path to residency in some cases. Foreigners admitted under the Temporary Protected Status visa program may seek residency if their statuses change during their stay in the U.S.

If you’re not sure which category you fall into or you need advice on any aspect of immigration law, reach out to the caring, experienced San Diego immigration attorneys at KS Visa Law. From green cards to family immigration and naturalization, we can address all your immigration-related needs. Call us today at 858-874-0711 to schedule an appointment.

May 2024