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The basics of immigration law

Many people from other countries are looking to permanently live or work in the United States or visit for an extended, but temporary, period. In order to do so, they will need to adhere to the immigration laws of the country. This could mean different things for different people depending on what the goal of each individual is.

In general, an individual wanting to immigrate to the United States needs to meet one of three primary criteria — family connection, work skills or investment of capital. Provisions do exist for granting asylum or taking in refugees. A lottery of sorts also exists for those whose immigration needs are not as pressing as are others.

In order to qualify as a family member, the relationship between the individual and the U.S. citizen must meet certain criteria. Spouses and children are given priority over other relatives, and some are not eligible at all under the family category. The citizen family member must file a petition proving the relationship between the parties, and this petition must be approved by the appropriate government agency.

There are five categories of employment-based entry into the United States. An individual’s employer must file the petition in this case, along with a labor certification. The government will then review the materials and make a decision.

If someone is bringing capital into the country, it will need to meet a certain dollar amount. After that, it must somehow benefit the economy of this country and/or save or create a minimum number of jobs. Once again, a petition will need to be filed and approved by the government before immigration is approved.

Refugees and those seeking asylum will follow a different path. However, regardless of how an individual qualifies to enter the country, the process can be complex. It is not advisable for anyone to attempt the immigration process alone since there is so much at stake.

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