Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to be free.
These are perhaps the words that define the essence of the United States of America: “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to be free.” These words written by Emma Lazarus that are now a part of the Statue of Liberty, do not only remember the immigrant persons of the past but continue to have incredible significance for today’s generation of immigrants. Many immigrants continue to fight to achieve their dreams of attaining a better life for themselves and their loved ones. This country continues to be the ideal place to obtain personal and professional opportunities and will be so for many years to come.
Although the United States is the premier country for advancement in many areas of life for a diverse range of individuals across the world, it is a country where its immigration laws and regulations are the most strict amongst all nations. In order to gain entrance to the U.S., you will need to understand the complex arena of immigration law and how it operates.
You will need a skilled attorney to guide you through the arduous journey of obtaining lawful entrance to the U.S.
Based in Houston, TX, proudly the most diverse city in the country, the Law Office of Yates & Associates can help you navigate the intricate immigration landscape. We are able to provide counsel for a multitude of immigration practice areas, including the following:
The DREAM Act
In 2012 the Obama Administration enacted an immigration policy geared towards certain youths who illegally entered the country. Minors who came into the country under such circumstances were able to receive specific opportunities, the most significant being deferred removal proceedings for up to two years. The policy also consented to provide permission to youths to have the chance to work legally in the United States. This policy is recognized as The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, also known as DACA.
To be eligible for DACA, individuals must meet the following requirements:
- You were under of 31 as of the date June 15, 2012.
- You have entered the U.S. before the age of 16.
You have had residence in the U.S. from June 15, 2007, through the present.
- You were physically in the U.S. on June 15, 2012, as well as being physically present in the country at the time, in order to file your request for deferred action.
- You entered the U.S. without being inspected before June 15, 2012, or your legal immigration status expired as of June 15, 2012.
- You are currently in school, have graduated from high school or a GED program, or had an honorable discharge from the U.S. Armed Forces.
- You were not convicted of a felony, had a significant misdemeanor offense, had three or more misdemeanor offenses, and/or pose a threat to national security or public safety.
In September of 2017, DACA has been ended by the Trump Administration, meaning applications to request deferred action are no longer accepted. Although this is the case, it does not mean the fight to restore DACA has ended. We will continue to stay up-to-date with all the changes that are occurring with this policy and maintain relationships with DACA protected individuals who are in need of legal counsel.
To gain U.S. citizenship is considered a privilege to many. There are specific ways of becoming a citizen of this country. One is being born in the U.S., its territories or jurisdictions, and have had a parent(s) that were citizens at the time of your birth if born outside the U.S.
Most individuals who would like to request U.S. citizenship do so through other means if they don’t fulfill such birthright requirements.
If you do find yourself being in such position, then the most viable recourse for individuals is becoming a naturalized citizen.
Here are the essential requirements you must fulfill in order to apply for naturalization.
- You must be 18 years of age and older at the time of application.
- You must have been a permanent resident (Green Card holder) for five (5) years.
- Be able to read, write, and speak basic English. (There are exceptions to this)
- Be a person of good moral character.
- Have had continuous residence and have had a physical presence within the U.S.
- Have a basic understanding of U.S. Government and history.
If you consider yourself a possible candidate to apply for citizenship, Yates & Associates will be your trusted advisor and guide to help you have a positive experience in becoming a U.S. citizen.
As we have mentioned before, entering the United States can be difficult. One of the most effective ways of entering the country is through the use of a visa. A visa is essentially authorization that is being given, usually through an endorsement on a passport, which allows any foreigner to enter a country for a significant amount of time. There are two primary categories of visas. They are immigrant visas and nonimmigrant visas.
Nonimmigrant visas are reserved for individuals who want to enter the U.S. but on a temporary basis. They have no intention of moving to the country and are only in the country for these following purposes: to travel, to work, to study, to visit family, among other varied purposes, including employment. Below are the two most prominent categories of nonimmigrant visas.
This a visa for business purposes. Foreigners are permitted to create contracts, take part in business, educational, or scientific conventions, or allow professional athletes partake in sporting events.
This visa allows a foreigner to visit family, receive medical treatment, have a vacation, among others activities.
If a foreigner is interested in entering the United States and staying the country on a permanent basis, this individual must apply for an immigrant visa. Because the individual is entering the country on a permanent basis, if an immigrant visa has been approved, a permanent resident card (Green Card) is granted in most cases. The way you obtain your permanent residence will depend whether the application process began inside or outside the country. If you are applying outside of the U.S., you must apply through a consular office from the Department of State. If you are applying inside the U.S., you must file an adjustment of status in order to change your status to a legal permanent resident. In most cases, the applicant must be sponsored in order to obtain permanent residence. The most traditional forms of obtaining such sponsorship are through family or employers.
Regarding family-based visas, there are two main categories and are divided by numerical limitations. Immediate relative visas have no numerical limitations. These relatives include the spouse of a U.S. citizen, unmarried child under 21 that is related to a U.S. citizen, orphan that is adopted abroad by a U.S. citizen, an orphan that is about to be adopted in the U.S. by a U.S. citizen, and a parent of a U.S. citizen that is at least 21 years of age.
Family Preference visas do have numerical limitations. These visas have four separate family preference categories.
- Family-Based First Preference 1: The estimated amount of yearly visas granted within this category are 23,400. The family members that belong to this category are unmarried sons and daughters of U.S. citizens and their minor children if any.
- Family-Based Second Preference 2: The estimated amount of yearly visas granted within this category is 114,200. The family members that belong to this category are unmarried sons and daughters, minors and spouses of lawful permanent residents.
- Family-Based Third Preference 3: The estimated amount of yearly visas granted within this category is 23,400. The family members that belong to this category are married sons and daughters of U.S. citizens, including their spouses and minor children.
- Family-Based Fourth Preference: The estimated amount of yearly visas granted within this category is 65,000. The family members that belong to this category are brothers and sisters of U.S. citizens, including their spouses and minor children. The U.S. citizens sponsoring must be at least 21 years of age.
Another form of obtaining an immigrant visa is through a diversity program or a lottery. Diversity program visas are one of the only forms of permanent visas that do not require a sponsor. Diversity program based visas are granted to individuals from countries with low rates of immigration to the U.S.
If you are planning on working in Houston, the fourth largest city in America, then you have certainly made a wise decision. Houston's economy leading force is Energy, so it is no surprise why two dozen Fortune500 corporations call the city home. Houston is also home of the Texas Medical Center, the largest medical complex in the world. The complex contains renowned hospitals, medical and dental schools, and acclaimed research institutions. Approximately 106,000 employee work here every day. Education, the arts, and the restaurant industries also contribute to the economy of the city. Because of this, the employment opportunities are endless, and if you do choose to take such opportunities, then we are certain your professional aspirations will come to fruition.
If you or an individual you know is looking to obtain an employment-based visa, there are certain things you must consider. Do you know which preference category you are qualified for? Do you hold an advanced degree? Are family members part of your visa application process?
Below are the five preference based employment visa categories.
First Preference EB 1 Applicants:
There are 3 subcategories of workers within this category. They are:
- Individuals who have extraordinary abilities in the arts, athletics sciences, education and business.
- Outstanding professors and researchers with at least three years of experience in these respective fields.
- Multinational managers or executives who have been employed for at least one of the three preceding years by the overseas affiliate, parent, subsidiary, or branch of a U.S. employer.
Second Preference EB 2 Applicants:
There are 2 subcategories of workers within this category. They are:
- Professionals that have an advanced degree, or a baccalaureate degree and 5 years of progressive experience in their respective profession.
- Individuals with an exceptional ability in the arts, sciences, and business. Exceptional ability translates to having a degree of experience that is above what is usually encountered within their fields of the arts, sciences, and business.
Third Preference EB 3 Applicants:
There are 3 subcategories of workers within this category. They are:
- Skilled workers that have jobs that require 2 years of training or work experience that are not temporary or seasonal.
- Professionals whose professions require at least a baccalaureate degree a U.S. university or college or its foreign equivalent.
- Unskilled workers that are capable of filling positions that require less than 2 years of training or experience that is not temporary or seasonal.
Fourth Preference EB 4 Applicants:
Certain Special Immigrants. These are many different subgroups of workers in this category. These include certain employees or former employees of the U.S. government abroad, Iraqi and Afghan interpreters/translators that have worked with the U.S. armed forces, Iraqi and Afghan nationals who have proven to be of faithful and valuable service while employed by the U.S. government or on behalf of the U.S. government, as well as ministers of religion, and certain foreign medical graduates.
Fifth Preference EB 5:
This is an investor based visa, given to individuals who will invest in new commercial enterprises in the U.S. that must provide job creation.
As you can see, there are many categories to consider. Let us guide you in investigating which employment-based visa is right for you.