Things you should know

Foreign-born individuals came come to the United States legally in four main ways:

  • As a family based immigrant, sponsored by a close family member;
  • As an employment-based immigrant, sponsored by a U.S. employer or by investing in the U.S.
  • As a refugee, fleeing persecution in his or her homeland; or
  • A diversity immigration lottery program.
  • A legal immigrant is a foreign born individual who has been admitted to reside in the United States as a lawful permanent resident (also known as LPR). LPR’s are given immigrant visas, commonly referred to as “green cards.”

    Non-immigrants are foreign born individuals who are permitted to enter the United States for a limited period of time and are given only temporary (non-immigrant) visas (such as students, tourists, temporary workers, business executives, and diplomats.

    Four ways for an immigrant to become a lawful permanent resident:

    1. Family based immigration.  A U.S. Citizen(USC)  or LPR can sponsor his or her close family members for permanent residence.  A USC can sponsor their spouse, parent (if the sponsor is over 21), minor and adult children, and brothers and sisters.  An LPR can sponsor his or her spouse, minor children, and adult unmarried children. Generally, the person petitioning for their family members must earn at least 125% of the poverty level and sign a legally enforceable affidavit of support to that effect.
      • Family based immigration is limited to a cap of 480,000 persons per year (does not include immediate relatives).
      • Immediate relatives (uncapped) are:
        • spouses of U.S citizens;
        • Unmarried minor children of U.S. citizens; and
        • Parent of U.S. citizens.
      • Family Preference includes:
        • Adult children (married and unmarried) and siblings of U.S. citizens; and
        • Spouses and unmarried children (minor and adults) of LPR’s.
    2. Employment-based (EB).  A U.S. employer can sponsor a foreign-born employee for permanent residence.  The employer typically must first demonstrate to the US Department of Labor that there is no qualified U.S. worker available for the job, but labor certification is not required for all of the EB categories, and if required, can sometimes be waived.
      • Employment based immigration is limited to 140,000 persons per year (divided into 5 preference categories).
    3. Refugee.  If a person located outside the United States seeks protection in the U.S. on the grounds that they face persecution in their homeland, they may enter as a Refugee.  They must prove that they have a well-founded fear of persecution on the basis of at least one internationally recognized grounds:  race, religion, membership in a social group; political opinion; or national origin.
      • The president of the United States consults with Congress each year to determine the number of Refugees that can be accepted.  The total number of "refugee slots" are divided among different regions of the world.
    4. Diversity Visa Lottery.  To qualify, a person must have a high school education or its equivalent, or within five years preceding the application, have had at least two years of experience in an occupation requiring at least two years of training or experience.
      • Diversity visas are limited to 50,000 each year. 


    Note: These are the four main ways to obtain lawful permanent resident status. However, there are many other provisions under our current United States Immigration laws that allow an individual to obtain lawful permanent residence. Some examples include (but are not limited to):

    • People in removal proceedings
    • Victims of certain crimes who have received visas

    How WLO can help

    1. At WLO, our initial consultation is free and we will take the time to meet with you and thoroughly discuss your specific situation and best determine what relief and options may be available to you and your family members under the current immigration laws.
    2. At WLO, we will be honest and upfront about our assessment of relief available. We will not mislead you just to obtain your business.
    3. At WLO, we will tell you exactly what evidence needs to be gathered in support of the relief appropriate for you and your family.
    4. At WLO, we will meet with your family members in jail, in your home, or in our office.
    5. At WLO, we will prepare you for any court appearances and meet with and prepare any witnesses that are needed for evidentiary hearings.

    If you need an experienced, honest, and knowledgeable immigration attorney on your team… CALL WILSON LAW OFFICE today for your free initial consultation