Individuals seeking to lawfully stay in the United States may be eligible for a variety of immigration options including obtaining a work visa, petitioning as a qualifying relative of a U.S. citizen or permanent resident, becoming a citizen through naturalization, gaining permanent employment, and more.
Common Ways to Stay in the U.S. Legally
Petition for an Immediate Relative: Immigration law allows U.S. citizens to petition for a child, parent, or spouse to live permanently in the U.S. To establish the family relationship, the petition must file Form I-130 or the relative can file Form I-485 if he or she is in the U.S. Evidence must also be submitted to show that one is a U.S citizen and the relationship that exists with the relative.
Obtain a Work Visa: There are various immigrant visa categories based on employment. Some of the factors that determine eligibility for a visa include an individual’s education, work experience, and skills. An employer must obtain a labor certification from the Department of Labor.
Become a Citizen through Naturalization: Individuals who were born outside of the United States may voluntarily become lawful citizens through naturalization. Typically, an individual may be eligible if the person can show that he/she is at least 18 years old, has continually been in the U.S for 3 to 5 years, can read, write, and speak basic English, and demonstrates good moral character.
Become a Permanent Worker: About 14,000 employment-based visas are available each year for individuals who look to live permanently to the U.S.
Petition for a Fiancé(e): A U.S. citizen planning to marry a foreign national fiancée may petition for him or her to obtain a visa for travel to the U.S for marriage. The petitioner must complete Form I-129F, Petition for Alien Fiancé(e) and submit all the required evidence. The visa is only valid for 90 days. The fiancé(e) must leave the U.S. if there is no marriage.
Permanent Resident through Refugee/Asylee Status: Individuals admitted as refugees or asylees are required to apply for a Green Card one year after their admission. One is eligible for lawful permanent resident status if he or she has not already acquired a Green Card, has been physically in the U.S for at least one year, and has not has his/her admission terminated.