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Miami Immigration & Naturalization Law Blog

Some of the ways to obtain a green card

A majority of green card applicants in Florida have a family member legally residing in the United States or a job offer from a U.S. emplolyer. However, there are some other ways that immigrants without a family member or job in the United States can apply for permanent residency.

One of the most well-known ways to apply for a green card without a job or family in the country is through the Diversity Immigrant Visa Program. This program is commonly referred to as the 'Green Card Lottery" and provides as many as 50,000 green cards each year to people from countries that have few immigrants already living in the United States. In addition to this program, there are also paths to obtaining a green card for citizens of certain countries like Cuba, Nicaragua and Afghanistan.

United States deporting fewer immigrants

Individuals in Florida who wish to remain permanently in the United States may be interested to learn that deportation numbers are dropping. In 2014, the fewest number of immigrants since at least 2007 will be deported from the country. This will be the case despite the fact that President Obama is delaying until after the November 2014 elections the implementation of policies that could lead to even fewer deportations.

From October 2013 through July 2014, deportations occurred at a rate 20 percent lower than the previous year and 25 percent lower than the year before that. The total number of immigrants who have been deported since President Obama began his presidency is more than 2 million, but he says that immigration reform is on its way. Some of that reform has already taken place. Since 2011, the administration has focused on deporting criminals or individuals who may be a threat to national security. The court system has become so backlogged that it can take several years for an deportation order to become final for individuals who are not in these categories.

Understanding the refugee process

Refugees desiring to come to Florida need to understand the process that must be followed. First, the individual must have received a referral to the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program. Once a referral has been received, the applicant will be interviewed by an immigration officer who will determine the applicant's eligibility for resettlement.

In addition to the individual, the applicant's petition may include the spouse, unmarried children under 21 years of age and, in some cases, other family members. Same-sex partners who are legally married may also be included. It may be possible for same-sex partners who are not legally married to have their cases cross-referenced in such a way that they can be interviewed together and resettled in the same geographic region of the U.S., if approved. An applicant is not required to pay any fee.

Florida residents need special visas for foreign fiancee

Those who wish to marry a foreign national may need to apply for a special visa. Whether or not one is needed will depend on where the marriage is to occur.

When the fiancee is a citizen of another country and resides there, the one residing in the United States may apply for a visa to bring the future spouse into America to be wed. If the marriage is to take place on U.S. soil, this documentation must be applied for. If the marriage is to take place in another country, a visa will not be necessary. Any U.S. citizen applying for the visa must marry the intended within 3 months after the prospective spouse arrives in America. In addition, the couple must have met at least one time within the two years prior to the application. In some cases, that requirement can be waived.

How do I immigrate to the United States?

Families in Florida may benefit from learning more about the process that enables people to immigrate into the United States. According to the U.S Department of State, the first step towards becoming a lawful permanent resident is for a foreign citizen to obtain an immigrant visa. Most foreign citizens are either categorized as immigrating for employment reasons or for family. In order to qualify for immigration, foreign citizens must be sponsored by a prospective employer, U.S. lawful permanent resident or a relative that is a U.S. citizen.

The process is initiated once the sponsor files a petition with U.S Citizenship and Immigration Services on behalf of the foreign person. U.S. citizens are permitted to file petitions for immigrants who qualify as a son or daughter, a parent, a sibling or spouse. U.S lawful permanent residents, otherwise known as green-card holders, may petition for a spouse or an unmarried daughter or son.

What is dual citizenship?

Many Florida residents may desire to hold citizenship in the U.S. and another country. While the United States does not formally recognize dual citizenship, a Florida resident can still seek seek citizenship without any negative consequences.

Having dual citizenship means that someone is considered to be a citizen of two different countries. This has a number of benefits, including the ability to easily have residences in both countries and to be able to access government programs in both countries more easily. However, dual citizenship also can add complications. For example, someone with dual citizenship may have tax obligations to both countries. The only time a person may lose U.S. citizenship is if they attempt to harm the U.S.

E-2 visa may help foreign investors to immigrate quickly

Foreign business owners wishing to move to Florida or any other state in the union may be able to do so with an E-2 visa. Although employment immigration is often a difficult prospect, the E-2 visa makes moving the whole family to the United States relatively simple for those with sufficient means. Individuals who are able to make a business investment of about $200,000 can usually receive a 5-year E-2 visa in a few months time.

The first requirement for an E-2 visa is that the applicant hails from a nation that participates in an investment treaty with the United States. The applicant will then have to prove that they are capable of running a successful business in their home country and that they can continue to run the business smoothly once it is moved to the United States.

Children crossing the U.S. border strain resouces

Extreme poverty and gang violence in Central America, mainly in Honduras and Guatemala, is driving many desperate children to attempt to enter the United States from Mexico. Many of them have family in the United States and several groups are now working overtime to help reunite these children with their families and help with immigration petitions.

Due to the influx of unaccompanied minors, the U.S. government has opened military bases up to be used as shelters in Oklahoma, Texas and California. However, as the children find sponsors or are reunited with family, the burden is shifting to four major metropolitan areas. As a result, many non-profits are now scrambling to help families enroll the children in school and fill out necessary paperwork to remain in the country.

Entrepreneurial opportunities for immigrants

Florida could be a destination for immigrants who invest at least $500,000 in order to take part in the EB-5 investor visa program. Through this program, immigrants have the opportunity to set up businesses that create at least 10 jobs in economically struggling areas. They will be granted conditional permanent residency status and can bring immediate family members with them.

The program has been in existence since 1990 but has been underused. While it could be an excellent opportunity for cities in need of jobs and revitalization, both urban and rural areas have been slow to promote it. However, a change could be underway as recognition of the benefits of this program seems to be growing. A total of around 16,000 applicants have been approved, and 4,000 of those were in 2012.

Immigrants, refugees and paths to remaining in the United States

Individuals in Florida seeking to remain permanently in the United States may be eligible to do so as either immigrants or refugees. Although both are terms for people who leave one country to live in another, they describe different situations.

Technically, an immigrant is someone who chooses to move to another country while a refugee is a person who is forced to leave their home country because their life is in danger. However, in practice, the difference between immigrants and refugees is less clear. For example, each year, many people come to the United States from countries such as Honduras or Guatemala because they are fleeing drug-related violence and gangs. These individuals are generally not considered refugees however. In general, to be considered a refugee, a person has to be directly targeted for violence.

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