Immigration Information Center

Welcome to our Immigration Information Center. In this area of our website, we have included basic information about some of the most important topics related to immigration in the U.S. We welcome you to review these subjects and also to use our directory to find an immigration lawyer who can assist you.

About United States Immigration Laws & Proceedings

People may immigrate to a new country to attend school, visit as a tourist, work, or to become a citizen. Every country has its own specific laws and proceedings related to allowing non-citizens to enter, visit, live or work within their borders. They also have specific requirements to allow a person to become a citizen. If a person enters the United States with the goal of becoming a citizen, he or she may enter on a visa and later seek permanent resident status. In time, they may become a citizen if they meet strict requirements and go through specific legal proceedings as set forth by U.S. immigration law.

When people immigrate into a new country, they are not considered citizens of that country unless they apply for and are granted citizenship. In the U.S., immigration laws are designed to keep illegal immigrants from entering into the country or crossing the country's borders. U.S. immigration law determines whether a person is considered an alien (non-citizen) or citizen and outlines specific proceedings for an alien to live, work, study or permanently reside in the United States. Immigration law also regulates the responsibilities and legal rights of aliens within the United States.

Immigration Overview
By definition, immigration is the act of entering and settling in a new country. In the United States, all immigration-related matters are overseen by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), a government agency established in 2003 within the Department of Homeland Security. Visas, permanent residency, deportation, asylum and citizenship are all overseen by USCIS. Whether you wish to study or work in the United States or want to become a citizen or permanent resident, there are strict eligibility requirements and proceedings that apply. Read more about immigration.

A visa is an official document or endorsement on a passport that authorizes the bearer to enter another country. To enter the U.S., a non-citizen may apply for an immigrant or nonimmigrant visa. An immigrant visa allows for permanent residency; a nonimmigrant visa allows for temporary residency. Some of the main types of visas include work visas, student visas, tourist visas, investor visas and family based visas. Read more about visas.

Green Cards / Permanent Residency
A green card is a document that allows a citizen of another country to permanently live and work in the U.S. Permanent residency is slightly different than citizenship, as a permanent resident will have fewer rights and will still be considered a non-citizen. Obtaining a green card can be a difficult and lengthy process, making it all the more important to involve an attorney who can properly handle your application and any issues that may arise. Read more about green cards.

Citizenship & Naturalization
Becoming a U.S. citizen is a dream of many accomplished by only a select few. There are strict eligibility requirements and naturalization proceedings can be exceedingly complex and time consuming. It is important to find out more about the qualifications and the process involved in order to determine whether you qualify and how you can get started. Read more about citizenship and naturalization.

A person who is already in the United States may initiate asylum proceedings to seek protection from persecution in their native country due to religion, political beliefs, race or nationality. If their application is approved, they may be able to remain in the U.S. and may even be able to apply for permanent residency one year after approval. Read more about asylum.

Deportation is a term used to describe the process of removing a non-citizen from the United States. The most common reason for deportation is a violation of immigration law or criminal law. When faced with deportation, a non-citizen may be able to take certain steps to avoid being removed from the country. He or she may be entitled to a hearing to contest deportation, and having an immigration lawyer can make a significant difference in his or her ability to properly prepare for and handle this hearing. Read more about deportation.

Immigration Questions & Answers
Immigration law is complex and addresses a number of different topics and specific processes that should be understood before attempting to apply for an immigrant or nonimmigrant visa or citizenship. You can get answers to your basic questions about immigration laws and proceedings by visiting our immigration FAQ page.

Choosing an Immigration Lawyer
There are different scenarios that may leave you in need of an immigration lawyer. You may wish to live or work in the United States or may be interested in getting a family member a visa so he or she can live here with you. Whatever your needs, you can find out more about your options and what to expect by involving a qualified attorney. You can also have the benefit of being better prepared and thus facing fewer obstacles and delays. With our directory, you can compare multiple lawyers to determine which you feel most comfortable working with. Read more about choosing the right immigration lawyer.

State Bar Associations
Visiting the website of the bar association in your state may be a useful way to determine whether to hire the attorney you are considering for your immigration needs. Many state bar associations maintain directories of licensed attorneys in the state and also track complaints and disciplinary actions. You can determine whether a specific attorney has a clean state bar record. Click here for a list of state bar association websites.

If you're ready to learn more about immigration laws and procedures, we recommend visiting the pages in our information center or connecting with an immigration lawyer who can directly address your needs. With the right legal counsel and accurate information, you will be in a far better position to achieve the outcome you are hoping for, whether it is to visit the U.S. on a temporary basis, to live and work here permanently or to become a citizen.

Find an immigration attorneywho can assist you.