The Immigration and Nationality Act allows many classes of immigrants to naturalize into United States citizens. While this process typically requires a Lawful Permanent Resident to have resided in the United States for at least five years, there are classes of immigrants such as certain armed service members who are able to naturalize without having first obtained Lawful Permanent Residence. It is important to speak with an immigration attorney before beginning the naturalization process because certain factors can trigger removal proceedings for those who apply to naturalize.
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The term “deportation” was changed to “removal” in 1997, but the effects have remained largely the same. Removal from the United States often means permanent exile from one's family and friends. The detention and removal process involves navigating the procedures and policies of several administrative agencies and complicated immigrant laws and regulations.
In addition to certain employment-based petitioners, Permanent Resident Cards (colloquially referred to as “Green Cards”) are available for specified family members of United States Citizens and Lawful Permanent Residents. Additionally, certain classes of immigrants, such as certain juveniles, victims of specified crimes, and those who have been granted asylum may be eligible to obtain Lawful Permanent Residence without a family member's petition.
There is a distinction between immigrant and nonimmigrant visas. Nonimmigrants enter the United States for a temporary period and are restricted to activities consistent with their visa. Unlike immigrants, they are less subject to numerical restrictions and more likely to obtain waivers of inadmissibility. On the other hand, immigrant visas are typically provided to those who intend to remain in the United States. It is very important for those who intend to remain in the United States to enter with an immigrant visa to prevent a later finding of fraudulent intent when that person applies to adjust his or her status.
Certain immigrants who are in the United States for a temporary period, or who have been granted limited forms of “status” such as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, may be eligible for an Employment Authorization Document (colloquially known as a “work permit”). It is important to speak with an attorney to determine eligibility for an Employment Authorization Document.
SPECIAL IMMIGRANT JUVENILES
A person who is under the age of 21 and who has been abandoned, neglected, or abused by one or both parents may be eligible to obtain Special Immigrant Juvenile Status, which may result in permanent residence (a “green card”). The procedure typically involves a fact-finding hearing in a family court followed by applications which are submitted to USCIS, although the procedure may vary depending on whether the person is currently in removal proceedings.
The immigration laws relating to persons coming to the United States after fleeing persecution in his or her home country involves the Immigration and Nationality Act as well as international law. While asylum must typically be sought within one year of entering the United States, several exceptions apply, and other similar forms of relief extend beyond the one year deadline. A grant of asylum will eventually result in permanent residence (a “green card”) and may provide a basis for the asylee's family members to adjust their status as derivatives.