Immigration is one of the most personal legal rights a person has. Lawful immigration allows families to stay together, employees to continue working, and refugees to seek asylum. It can, however, be difficult to exercise this legal right. You must apply for the type of immigration for which you are eligible. You also need to support your petition with compelling evidence. Minsky, McCormick & Hallagan is an established law firm with immigration attorneys near Chicago who are ready to help immigrants throughout the entire Chicagoland area. Learn more about the different types of immigration status that are available.
A visa is a temporary immigration status. Visa holders may enter the country lawfully for a limited duration and only for specified purposes. A tourist or business visitor visa may prohibit the holder from accepting employment. If you need to work lawfully in the United States, you may need a visa that is sponsored by a family member or employer. An immigration lawyer can help you apply for the type of visa that meets all your immigration needs.
If you need a more permanent immigration status, you will want to look into lawful permanent residence. This is commonly referred to as “having a green card.” Green card holders may lawfully live and work in the United States indefinitely. Green cards have an expiration date (usually ten years, though not always), but as long as you renew your green card on time, you have the right to continue living and working in the U.S. A green card can also be revoked if the holder loses his or her eligibility. If, for example, the holder is convicted of a felony, this could make them ineligible for lawful permanent residence.
The most permanent type of immigration status is citizenship. Once an immigrant becomes a naturalized citizen, it is far more difficult for the government to try to remove them from the country. Removal involves a complicated legal procedure called “denaturalization.” Naturalized citizens pay taxes, vote, and enjoy all other privileges and protections of citizenship. You don’t need a sponsor for citizenship.
You may apply for citizenship on your own merits after five years of holding a green card. (If you have been continuously married to a United States citizen while holding a green card, you may apply for citizenship after three years.) This involves a background examination, tests, and other requirements. Once you have met all requirements, you will be invited to participate in a naturalization ceremony, where you will take the Oath of Allegiance. At that point, you are officially a citizen of the United States.
Whether you need a visa, green card, or citizenship, the experienced Chicago family immigration lawyers at Minsky, McCormick & Hallagan can help. We have helped many immigrants in the Chicago area achieve the lawful immigration status that is best for their unique situation. Contact us to schedule a consultation with an experienced immigration attorney as soon as possible.