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Immigration Law

Visas: Visas authorize entry into the United States for a specific purpose and period of time. A visa must be approved by a government agency such as an embassy or consulate. The first step to acquiring a visa is determining the type required (e.g. student, travel, or work), followed by filing a petition for the determined visa and paying the application fee. Following proper application the issuing authority will interview the visa applicant.

Lawful Permanent Residence (Green Cards): Green cards give the holder an official immigration status as a lawful permanent resident. A lawful permanent resident obtains benefits such as the ability to lawfully reside and gain employment in the United States without the time limit that a visa imposes. In order for consideration as a green card holder, the applicant must navigate a three-step process. First, file an immigrant petition with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), and then the applicant must wait for an available visa number (unless the applicant is an "immediate relative" of a citizen or a lawful permanent resident). Finally, the immigrant visa must be adjudicated, meaning the applicant must apply to adjust their immigration status to that of a legal permanent resident.

Other Issues Relating to Immigration Status:

Deportation: Deportation is the physical removal of a non-citizen from the country based on immigration law violations. Activities that may result in deportation include expired visas, illegal entry, and criminal activity.

Asylum: Asylum is an immigration benefit allowing individuals fearing persecution in their home country based on certain grounds (i.e. race, religion, nationality, social group, and political opinion) to remain in the United States lawfully for an indefinite period of time. Once granted asylum, the individual may apply for lawful permanent residence.

Waiver: The waiver process allows individuals who are ineligible for admittance into the United States as an immigrant to file for a waiver of certain grounds that make them ineligible for entry. These grounds may include health, a bar based on previous unlawful presence, or certain criminal grounds. Except in particular situations, a waiver is provided indefinitely.

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