Family-Based Immigrant Visa Petitions

Employment Authorization, Travel Documents

Over the past decade, immigration laws regarding visas, employment, and travel for documented visitors have become hot topics. Immigrants wishing to stay with family members, work in the United States, or return to the United States after traveling abroad face many milestones, and the process for obtaining these documents can be overwhelming.

The Philadelphia immigration lawyers at the Law Offices of Tahir Mella, P.C. specialize in all areas of immigration law. For over 20 years, we have successfully helped and represented immigrants that wish to acquire visas, work permits, green cards, citizenship, and asylum. The law firm also has a criminal law division that serves the immigrant population facing criminal charges.

Immigrant Visas and Green Cards

Residents of foreign countries that want to visit the United States for extended periods or who want to establish permanent residency must obtain a visa to start the process. The process of obtaining a visa can be arduous, considering there are over 180 types of visas. Every immigrant must first establish if they want to obtain an immigrant or non-immigrant visa.

An immigrant visa provides entry into the United States for those that have the intention of staying for a prolonged period. This type of visa is categorized in two ways: visas with numerical limitations and visas without numerical limitations.

Visas not subject to numerical limitations are sought by immediate relatives of United States citizens, residents returning from travel, and former United States citizens. There are very specific regulations for qualification as a child, parent, or spouse of a citizen. Visas subject to numerical limitations apply to those that are family sponsored or employment-based.

There are many steps involved in obtaining an immigrant visa. A family and employment-sponsored visa application is multi-tiered. There are many documents and forms required by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and the Department of State. These types of visas are subject to per-country numerical caps that limit the amount of visas that are available. The diversity lottery applies to immigrants that are emigrating from countries with low admission. The Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) has a diversity lottery that allows immigrants from low admission countries to come to America ahead of those seeking visas from countries with large populations already in the U.S. Applicants must possess a high school diploma, two years of working experience, and two years of training for a specific and marketable skill.

Non-immigrant visas are divided into 19 categories and an additional category for North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) professionals. These categories include career diplomats, temporary visitors, students, temporary workers, foreign media, entertainers, religious workers, and North American Free Trade Agreement professionals. The most common non-immigrant visa is for temporary workers and students.

Family Sponsored Green Cards

A green card offers permanent residence to a foreign national. Applicants must meet strict standards to qualify for a green card. Once an individual obtains a green card, they can then petition to sponsor preference relatives to come to the United States. Preference relatives include parents, spouses, minor or married children, and siblings. The process for obtaining a family sponsored visa is long, and sometimes takes years for the application to be processed and approved by the USCIS and the State Department.

Travel Documents for Immigrants

There are three types of immigrant travel documents. These include a re-entry permit, a refugee travel document, and an advance parole document. Permanent residents, or green card holders, conditional permanent residents, refugees, those in the United States seeking asylum, and those that received a Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) must apply for one of the three types of travel documents that allow them to leave and return to the U.S.

The process from applying for a travel document to its approval can take as long as three months. Individuals must be fingerprinted, participate in an interview with a USCIS representative, and supply all documentation required by the USCIS. The process can be overwhelming, especially for those not proficient in speaking, reading, or writing English.

When to Seek Counsel

Current laws and opinions on immigration are in a constant state of flux, leaving many immigrants confused and overwhelmed. Consulting with an experienced immigration lawyer can ensure that individuals receive help with the immigration process, understand the documents and limitations imposed by visas and permits, and meet all deadlines and criteria.

Pennsylvania Immigration Lawyers at the Law Offices of Tahir Mella, P.C. Help Immigrants in All Areas of Immigration Law

If you or someone you know needs help in any area of immigration law, call the Pennsylvania immigration lawyers at the Law Offices of Tahir Mella, P.C. at 215-496-0690 or contact us online to schedule a consultation today. Our offices are conveniently located in Philadelphia to serve clients throughout Pennsylvania and nationwide.