March 18, 2019

United States Immigration and the Road to Citizenship

United States Immigration and the Road to Citizenship

According to the Current Population Survey, there are approximately 86.4 million immigrants with U.S.-born children in 2017, accounting to 27 percent of the overall U.S. population. The United States has indeed been the top destination for international migrants as early as the 1960s, with one-fifth of the world’s migrants living there since 2017. In 2016, 49 percent of these immigrants, numbering at 21.2 million have become naturalized U.S. citizens. In the following, we will discuss the laws and the processes in immigration and citizenship.


Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952


This law is contained in the United States Code and is the primary legislation for immigration and naturalization in the U.S. Title II of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) includes provisions for worldwide level of immigration, including family-sponsored and employment based immigrants. It ensures nondiscrimination of prospective immigrants regardless of a person’s race, sex, nationality, place of birth, or place of residence. It also discusses preference allocation for both family-sponsored and employment-based immigrants, enumerating the people eligible for issuance and the professional and skill exceptionalities of those seeking to enter the country. The procedure in applying for immigration has also been elaborated in this act. In Title III of the act, eligibility criteria for naturalization and citizenship have also been included.


The Immigrant Visa Process


Submit a Petition. To apply for an immigrant visa, a foreign citizen must be sponsored by a U.S. citizen relative, U.S. lawful permanent resident (LPR), or by a prospective employer. U.S. citizens and LPRs file Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, while employers file Form I-140, Petition for Alien Worker with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). The visa application process will only begin if the petition is approved by the USCIS.


Begin National Visa Center (NVC) Processing. The approved petition forms are sent to the Department of State’s National Visa Center for pre-processing. When your petition becomes current, NVC initiates collecting visa fees, forms, and documents from sponsors and immigrant visa applicants.


Consular Electronic Application Center (CEAC) Processing. The applicant then finishes the online processing of the case through CEAC. This usually involves payment of fees, completing the online visa application form DS-260 and uploading of required documents. You must then await the “welcome letter” sent by the NVC instructing you to complete your application process.


Submit Application Forms to NVC. After payment of fees and submitting the form online, applicants must also collect all financial documents including the Affidavit of Support Form I-864 as evidence of income. This serves as a legal contract between the petitioner and the U.S. government. Civil documents must also be submitted.


Passing the Interview. After submission, the applicant is on the waitlist for interview. The results of the interview will then determine whether the visa application has been approved or denied.


Applying for U.S. Citizenship


Naturalization is the process wherein a non-U.S. citizen voluntarily becomes an American citizen. This entitles them of protection and exercise of rights and responsibilities of the country. To become a U.S. citizen, one must be a Lawful Permanent Resident for at least five years, or for at least three years if filing as a spouse of a U.S. citizen. Certain eligibility criteria also include being at least 18 years of age. Then, the naturalization process includes determining your eligibility to become an American citizen, preparing and submitting application Form N-400, taking the U.S. Naturalization Test and having a personal interview.


Applying for immigrant or citizen status is really a complex process which requires determination, financial capability and tenure. In the end, it serves the right for families to live together, and for aspirants looking for greener pasture.

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