Due to immigration being one of society’s most talked-about topics as of late, it has become increasingly important for people to know various details about immigration law. Since this area of law focuses on defining a person’s citizenship and residency within the United States, it can have a profound impact not only on individuals, but also families. Whether it is a question regarding citizenship, gaining temporary or permanent residency within the United States, or perhaps how a person may be deported back to their country of origin, it is clear immigration law plays a role in more and more lives each day. If you have questions about various aspects of immigration law, here is everything you need to know.
Federal Government Management
When discussing immigration law and how it applies to various situations, one of the most important points to remember is that the federal government manages and oversees most immigration issues. In almost all situations, states are not allowed to interfere in immigration matters. The only exception to this rule is when a state has laws in place allowing police the authority to investigate suspected illegal immigrants, and even then there is much legal debate.
Department of Homeland Security
Since the federal government is in charge of most immigration matters, it falls under the Department of Homeland Security to ensure laws and regulations are enforced. Under DHS there are three main departments responsible for enforcing immigration law, these being Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Customs and Border Protection, and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. As for their responsibilities, ICE is responsible for locating, arresting, and prosecuting those found to be in the U.S. illegally, while CBP is responsible for monitoring the nation’s borders and ensuring no one enters the country illegally. Finally, USCIS checks and processes applications of those who are applying for legal entry or citizenship in the United States.
Types of Visas
While there are many different types of visas for those seeking to live and/or work in the United States, the two most common types are immigrant and non-immigrant visas. Immigrant visas are for those wishing to stay in the country as a resident while they live and work in the United States. As for non-immigrant visas, these are given to those who will be temporary visitors in the U.S., such as tourists, business executives, and students.
Family Unification a Major Priority
While it may sometimes seem as if keeping families apart is the goal of U.S. immigration policy, the fact is family unification is and always has been a major component of American immigration law. Because of this, most people seeking an immigrant visa do so through a family member petitioning on their behalf. Also, unlike other types of visas where only a certain number are available each year, there is no limit on the number of family visas issued by the government each year. However, since it can take months at a minimum to get these applications processed and approved, it is always best to start with the process as early as possible.
Due to immigration law being extremely complex and having many changes made to it depending upon the political climate at the time, it is always a good idea to hire the services of an experienced immigration attorney to assist with even the simplest of matters in these cases. With so many forms that usually need to be filled out, the slightest mistake could find a person having to start the entire process from scratch, which could delay a person’s entry into the U.S. by months or even longer.
Temporary Protected Status
For those whose native countries have been the victim of natural disasters or other dangerous situations, the U.S. may grant them temporary protected status. While this will not lead to permanent residency, it does allow individuals to stay in the U.S. for up to 18 months.