An immigrant visa allows a foreign national to enter the U.S. as a Permanent Resident. If already in the U.S. in a non-immigrant status, under certain conditions a foreign national may adjust their status to that of a permanent resident.
Permanent Resident status in the U.S. is symbolized by the Green Card, or Alien Registration Receipt Card. Permanent resident status is obtained upon the approval of the immigrant visa or, if the alien is in the United States, through the adjustment of status.
This permanent residency can be obtained through either family-sponsored immigration or by work-related immigration.
Other avenues to permanent resident status include the Green Card Lottery (Diversity Visa) or after a grant of asylum. With a Green Card, the applicant can work legally in the U.S., and it is proof of lawful residence within the U.S. This office has experience in each of these areas.
A. Family sponsored immigration
To obtain an immigrant visa through a family sponsor, the sponsor must be a U.S. citizen or a lawful permanent resident (LPR). A U.S. citizen may sponsor their parents, their spouse, their children (including their spouse’s children if they were under age 18 at the time of the marriage of their parent to the U.S. citizen), and their sisters and brothers. A U.S. citizen must be at least 21 years old to sponsor their parents. A U.S. citizen’s parents, spouse, and unmarried children (including step children) under age 21 are considered “immediate relatives”. The immediate relative visa category does not have an annual limited visa allotment. Immigrant visas always available for this category.
Other relatives of LPRs may also be sponsored. But there is a legal limit on the number of immigrant visas which can be granted each year in these categories. Therefore, a waiting list for immigrant visas exists for aliens who qualify in these categories. The length of these waiting periods can be determined from the Visa Bulletin published monthly by the U.S. Department of State.
B. Employment-Based Visas
Immigrant Visas (IV) can also be granted through employment. A number of employment based categories are available wherein qualified immigrants can become eligible to file for permanent resident status. Some of these categories require a process commonly known as “labor certification”.
This is a process wherein an alien demonstrates to the satisfaction of the involved U.S. government agencies that a genuine job offer exists and no U.S. citizens qualify for the position. Other categories do not require labor certification.
Work-related immigration includes labor certification through an employer in the U.S., a national interest waiver for aliens with advanced degrees or aliens with exceptional ability, or other special categories for persons of extraordinary ability or who are outstanding researchers.
The following is a partial list of some of the employment-based categories:
Aliens with extraordinary ability - This category is for individuals with extraordinary ability in the arts, sciences, education, business, or athletics. A job offer is not required in this category. Labor certification is not required.
Outstanding Professors and Researchers - This category is for individuals with at least three years experience in teaching or research, whose work is widely recognized as outstanding. An offer of a permanent position is required. A labor certification is not required.
Aliens Holding Advanced Degrees or of Exceptional Ability - This category is for aliens with advanced degrees or who possess exceptional ability in the sciences, arts, or business. The office has extensive experience in handling such cases for individuals in scientific fields. A job offer and labor certification is required. However, a waiver of the job offer can be obtained if the waiver is in the national interest. This is commonly termed the National Interest Waiver (NIW). The office has successfully applied for aliens in this category in a number of academic fields.
These three categories contain some similar requirements and in many cases the same individual may be eligible to apply in one or more categories. The office has successfully filed applications in these three categories for researchers in the following fields, among others:
- Boron Neutron Capture Therapy (BNCT) as a cancer treatment
- Immunopathogenesis of HSV infection
- Metalorganic Chemical Vapor Deposition (CVD)
- Synthetic organometallic chemistry
- Design and construction of a Neutron Spectrometer, or neutron scattering instrument
- Design of a High Pressure Diffractometer and a Disordered Materials Diffractometer
- Dissecting protein networks that manipulate cell cycle control and cancer development and exploring functions of these cell cycle control regulatory proteins
- Identifying and characterizing proteins and their networks that regulate telomeres and genome stability
- Computational materials science (CMS) employing advanced high performance computing (HPC)
- Use of multi-level inverters to improve fuel cell technology and increase efficiency
- Modeling of the solubility of hydrocarbons in brines in order to understand the contamination of water produced by the petroleum industry
- Bioremediation technology for treatment of wastes, focusing on the heavy metal and radionuclide contamination resulting from the legacy of nuclear weapons manufacturing, testing, and storage at numerous sites across the United States
Certain Multinational Executives and Managers - This category is for individuals who, in the three years prior to admission, have worked at least one year for a business overseas and the business now seeks to bring the alien into the U.S. to work for the same or related business in a managerial or executive capacity. A job offer is required. A labor certification is not required.
- Physical therapists
- Religious Workers
The immigration laws of the United States permit persons fleeing persecution to seek protection in the United States under several different categories, including asylum. Persons in the United States who have a well founded fear of persecution on account of race, religion, nationality, or membership in a particular social group or political opinion, may apply for asylum.
The office has successfully applied for asylum for individuals from, among other areas:
- Palestinians born in the U.A.E.
- West Bank Palestinians
A Nonimmigrant Visa is granted to a foreign national who is entering the U.S. temporarily for a specific purpose. Examples include admission to study, visit, or work in a particular job. Generally, a nonimmigrant is not expected to remain in the U.S. permanently, although this is not always a requirement. Most nonimmigrants are admitted into the United States only for a limited period of time.
Nonimmigrants are designated by letters of the alphabet which designate their non-immigrant purpose or status. The following is a list of some of the more common types of non-immigrant status handled by the office:
E-1 Treaty Trader
An E-1 is a national of a country with which the U.S. maintains a qualifying treaty and who is coming to the U.S. to carry on substantial trade principally between the U.S. and the alien’s country of nationality.
E-2 Treaty Investor
An E-2 is a national of a country with which the U.S. maintains a qualifying treaty and who is coming to U.S to develop and direct the operations of an enterprise in which he or she has invested or is actively in the process of investing a substantial amount of capital.
J-1 Exchange student
L-1 Intra-company transfer
An L-1 is an alien coming temporarily to the U.S. to perform services in a managerial or executive capacity or that entails specialized knowledge for the same business entity, or a related entity, that employed him abroad.
H-1B Professional Worker
An H-1B is an alien coming temporarily to perform services in a specialty occupation. A specialty occupation is one which at a minimum requires a bachelor’s degree or higher for entry into the occupation in the U.S. The office has successfully filed for H-1B status for individuals with training and job offers in, among others, the following areas:
• Mechanical Engineers
• Computer programmers
• Industrial Engineer
• Computer analysts
H-2B Temporary Workers
An H-2B is an alien coming temporarily to the U.S. to engage in non-agricultural employment that is seasonal, intermittent, to meet a peak load need, or a one-time occurrence. The office has assisted employers in successfully filing for H-2Bs, e.g., to work in the East Tennessee area during the tourist season.
R-1 Religious Worker
An R-1 is an alien who for at least two years has been a member of a religious denomination having a bona fide nonprofit, religious organization in the U.S. The R-1 has come temporarily to work either solely as an individual minister, as a professional in a religious vocation or occupation, or as a representative for a religious organization.
This office has successfully applied for R-1 status for a number of individuals representing numerous religious organizations. Obtaining religious worker status in some cases may lead to permanent resident status.