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The Basics of Immigration Process: What to Expect

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The Basics of Immigration Process: What to Expect

At the Law Office of Robert D. Ahlgren and Associates, we help clients in the Chicago area navigate the complex immigration system – and immigration law is all we do. This means you can count on us to provide you with the best legal services you can expect in addressing your legal immigration needs.

Understanding the Basics of the Immigration Process

Whether you are an employer looking to hire a foreign national, or you are a US citizen or Green Card holder who wishes to obtain a family visa for a relative, you will accomplish this by going through a complex immigration process.

The US immigration process is generally divided into two broad areas – employment-based immigration and family-based immigration.

Employment-based Immigration

US immigration law allows US employers to petition the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to obtain work visas for non-US citizens the employer wishes to hire who meet certain criteria. The visa categories available for employment-based immigration are many, but they, too, are divided into two broad categories.

A permanent immigrant visa or employment-based green card is obtained for a foreign worker if the prospective employer and prospective worker meet certain requirements. This includes the employer first obtaining “labor certification” from the US Department of Labor, certifying that there are no qualified workers who can be hired in the same position and that the employer will be paying the foreign worker prevailing wages for the position. Once the labor certification is obtained, then the employer petitions USCIS to approve the foreign worker to apply for their green card, based on the employer’s job offer and approved petition. 

A temporary nonimmigrant visa can be obtained for seasonal employment, business opportunities, foreign companies sending employees to work at US branches, employees in specialty fields, and more. 

Family-Based Immigration

A US citizen or Green Card holder can petition the USCIS for visas for their qualifying relatives. This family-based immigration categorizes the family members into various groups depending on whether they are relatives of a US citizen or relatives of a Green Card holder, as well as the family relationship.

Qualifying relatives of US citizens who can obtain their green cards are referred to as “immediate relatives,” which typically means the spouse, unmarried child under the age of 21, or parent if the US citizen is over 21 years old. Once the petition and application are filed, there will be an interview to establish the validity of the relationship.

All other qualifying relatives of US citizens and Green Card holders are grouped in a category referred to as “First Preference,” and these include unmarried children of US citizens over the age of 21, spouses of Green Card holders, married children of US citizens, their spouses and their minor children, and brothers and sisters of adult US citizens, their spouses, and their minor children. The application process is the same as for the immediate family member category, except the waiting time for the visa is longer, and the application for the visa can only be filed after the petition is approved.

A Chicago Immigration Lawyer Can Help

If you are in the Chicago area and need to navigate the immigration process for any reason, contact our office today and schedule a consultation. Our Illinois immigration attorneys can guide you through the process.

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