If you own a lemon car, lemon truck, or lemon motorcycle, you have rights under your state’s laws, as well as rights under federal law. If you are an immigrant, you have rights and procedures that you need to follow in order to navigate the complex immigration law system. Jacob J. Sapochnick, an attorney specializing in immigration law, offers an overview of immigration law and recent updates, as well as tips to make sure you can take advantage of your Immigration law rights.
One of the basic principles of U.S. immigration law is family unification; in principle, the system is dedicated to uniting husbands with wives, and children with parents. Unfortunately, due to understaffing, underfunding, and security concerns, cases often cannot be processed as quickly as a family would desire or as quickly as the law allows. Certain family members related to either U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents (Green Card holders), may enter the U.S. and stay. The best category to be in is the immediate relative category - spouses, parents, and children under 21 of U.S. citizens.
People that qualify under the immediate relative category are not subject to visa numerical limitations. Other relationships, which are subject to a quota system, are divided into family-based “preferences.” The family preferences include four categories:
First preference: Unmarried sons and daughters of U.S. citizens.
Second preference: Spouses and children of legal permanent residents (Green Card holders) Level 2A; and unmarried sons and daughters of legal permanent residents (Green Card Holders) Level 2B.
Third preference: Married sons and daughters of U.S. citizens.
Fourth preference: Brothers and sisters of U.S. citizens.
If a family member petitions for you in a preference category-that is, a category with annual limits on the number of visas-your wait could be several years long. Although it’s possible to estimate the likely wait in your category, this will be only an estimate. You will need to learn to track it, month-by-month, based on the Visa Bulletin published by the US State Department.
As evident from the categories described above, not all family relationships are recognized for purposes of immigrating to the United States. A person could petition for his or her own parents or siblings, but a grandchild could not petition for a grandparent, or a nephew for an aunt. A permanent resident can petition for his spouse, but the spouse will be subject to the preference system and will need to wait for a visa number to become available before obtaining the permanent residency.