The Constitution of the United States of America provides that Congress shall govern all matters concerning Immigration and Naturalization. Therefore, Immigration Laws are governed by Federal, rather than State law.
There are two ways to enter the United States of America, either as a non-immigrant or as an immigrant.
Non-immigrant Visas / Temporary Visas
Non-immigrant visas are temporary visas. This means that professionals, scientists, researchers, investment entrepreneurs, athletes and entertainers from around the world can work in the United States temporarily. The intent of the non-immigrant visa holder must be to return to his or her home country after the expiration of the non-immigrant visa.
Bringing in talented individuals from around the world is a priority of our legal admissions system because foreign nationals have skills and expertise that are greatly needed in the U.S. Foreign nationals also invest tremendous amounts of capital into businesses, which sparks our economy and increases jobs. Benefits abound. Employers benefit, our local economy benefits, commerce between countries is facilitated and our people benefit from the robust exchange of different ideas and goals. Individuals with the requisite credentials for non-immigrant visas give our country depth and great levels of prosperity to the people. The overall general welfare of our country is enriched due to non-immigrant visa holders.
Immigrant Visas / Permanent Visas
Immigrant Visas are not temporary in nature but rather allow for permanent resident status in the U.S. There are two ways to obtain an immigrant visa, either through employment or through family.
Employment Based Immigration
Federal Law allows employers to bring in a relatively small number of skilled workers from overseas when there are no qualified Americans available to fill the job. This is known as obtaining a green card, i.e. permanent resident status, through employment. It is the employer, rather than a family member, who files a petition to keep the foreign national in the country, permanently.
Employment based immigration does not mean that we disregard our responsibility to educate and train United States workers. It only means that we recognize the need to attract additional talented, skilled and hardworking individuals from all over the world. Throughout our history, foreign workers and immigrants helped build this country and have enriched American life.
Family Based Immigration
Another priority of our legal admissions system is to allow foreign nationals to immigrate to the U.S. in order to join family. This is known as obtaining a green card (i.e. permanent resident status), through family. Here, it is the family member, rather than an employer, who files a petition to keep a foreign national in the country, permanently.
Family-sponsored immigrants enter in one of two ways, either as immediate relatives or through what is called the family preference system.
Immediate relatives include: spouses, unmarried minor children, and parents of U.S. citizens. Immigration through the family preference system is available for relatives of permanent residents and siblings of U.S. citizens.
There are an unlimited number of visas issued for immediate relatives of U.S. citizens. However, the family preference system is far more restrictive and limits the number of visas issued in its four categories. In addition, the waiting period for a visa can be extremely long.
It is easy to see that family reunification is one of the most visible areas in government policy in which we support and strengthen family values. We acknowledge that family unification translates into strong families who build strong communities.