Immigration law is complex and constantly changing. It can also be unforgiving. If you don’t know what you’re doing, it’s easy to miss opportunities to improve your status or make costly mistakes that can limit your options.
A skilled and experienced immigration attorney can save you time and stress by helping you avoid pitfalls and navigate the various agencies that administer the U.S. immigration system. The process of gaining access to this country can be among the most important and rewarding events of your life. It can also be among the most frustrating. An experienced hand to guide you can make all the difference.
Theus Law Offices provides comprehensive, individualized and personal legal immigration services to businesses and families, both in the United States and around the world. We understand that our clients are best served by partnering with competent legal counsel who can provide customized legal services expeditiously, without compromising the need for quality and personal attention.
Our approach is to keep our clients well informed and provide expert counsel throughout the entire immigration process. We take pride in our personal touch – we are always available and give clients our complete and undivided attention.
Theus Law Offices is conveniently located in close geographic proximity to the Oakdale Immigration Court, LaSalle Immigration Court, LaSalle Detention Facility (also known as the LaSalle ICE Processing Center), and the Pine Prairie ICE Processing Center. Our attorneys have extensive experience with these immigration courts and regularly visit these locations on a weekly basis. If your relative is detained at any of these locations, we strongly advise you to contact us as soon as possible because the detained cases at the Oakdale Immigration Court and LaSalle Immigration Court move extremely fast. Statistics show that immigrants who go without representation while in removal proceedings have a much lower chance of success than immigrants who find competent representation.
Among the services we can help you with are:
The most common form of gaining U.S. residency is through a family member who is already a citizen or permanent resident.
Which relationships qualify?
Qualifying relationships are grouped into two main categories – immediate relatives and preference relatives. Immediate relatives of U.S. citizens are given special preferential treatment. First and foremost, they are allowed to immigrate in unlimited numbers.
Preference relatives are allowed to immigrate, subject to annual numerical limitations. While immediate family members are eligible to immigrate immediately, there may be wait times applicable to preference relatives, depending upon the type of relationship and nationality of the relative.
The following types of relationships qualify as immediate relatives:
- Spouses of U.S. citizens
- Unmarried children under 21 years of age of U.S. citizens
- Parents of U.S. citizens
Preference relatives are:
- Adult children of U.S. citizens, married or unmarried
- Spouses and unmarried children of permanent residents
- Siblings of U.S. citizens
EB-1 Visas Are Available To Foreign Nationals Of Extraordinary Ability
EB-1 visas are available to foreign nationals of extraordinary ability.
The EB-1 category covers three groups:
Immigrants of Extraordinary Ability
Outstanding Professors and Researchers
International Managers and Executives
1. Immigrants of Extraordinary Ability
Who is considered an immigrant of extraordinary ability?
This subcategory covers immigrants possessing extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business or athletics. The extraordinary ability subcategory does not require a specific job offer, so long as the immigrant states that they will continue to work in the field of their extraordinary ability in the United States. This means that the immigrant may file a petition on their own behalf, rather than having an employer file for them.
How is “extraordinary ability” defined?
USCIS regulations define “extraordinary ability” as a “level of expertise indicating that the individual is one of those few who have risen to the top of the field of endeavor.”
How can extraordinary ability be demonstrated?
There are two ways to demonstrate extraordinary ability. First, the immigrant can show that they have received a major, internationally recognized award such as a Nobel Prize or an Academy Award. The second and more common method is for the immigrant to show three of the following ten types of evidence:
- Receipt of lesser national or international prizes or awards for excellence in their field of endeavor
- Membership in associations in the field of endeavor that require outstanding achievements of their members
- Published material about the immigrant and his work in professional journals, trade publications or the major media
- Participation, either in a group or alone, as a judge of others in the same or a similar field
- Original scientific, scholarly or artistic contributions of major significance in the field of endeavor
- Authorship of scholarly articles in the field, published in professional journals or the major media
- Display of the immigrant’s work at artistic exhibitions or showcases in more than one country
- Performance in a lead, starring or critical role for organizations with a distinguished reputation
- Commanding a high salary compared to others in the field
- Commercial success in the performing arts, as shown by box office receipts and sales
2. Outstanding Professors and Researchers
What evidence is required for this category?
The evidentiary requirements for this category are as follows:
- International recognition as outstanding in a specific academic field
- At least three years teaching or research in the field. The teaching or research experience can be gained while in pursuit of an advanced degree, but only if the alien had full responsibility for the courses taught, or the research is recognized as outstanding.
- An offer of employment. There are three forms this offer can take:
- A tenure or tenure-track teaching position or a comparable research position
- A research position with no fixed term in a position where the employee would generally have the expectation of permanent employment
- A research position with a private company if the employer has at least three full time researchers and has documented research accomplishments in the field.
Unlike aliens in the extraordinary ability subcategory, aliens in the outstanding professor or researcher subcategory must have a job offer. However, as with all first preference employment petitions, no labor certification is required.
How can an applicant prove him/herself to be outstanding?
An alien demonstrates that their work has been recognized as outstanding in the international arena by presenting evidence similar to that required to show extraordinary ability. Two of the following types of evidence are required:
- Receipt of a major international prize or award for outstanding achievement in the academic field
- Membership in associations that require outstanding achievements of their members
- Material in professional publications written by others about the alien’s work
- Participation as a judge of the work of others in the field
- Original contributions in the field, or authorship of scholarly books or articles in journals with international circulation.
3. International Managers and Executives
How does one qualify as an executive or manager?
To qualify for immigration as an executive or manager, the alien must have worked for the petitioner in an executive or managerial capacity for at least one year of the previous three. This does not need to have been completed in one stretch, but can be aggregated.
The alien must be coming to the U.S. to work in an executive or managerial capacity. If the alien is already in the U.S., the required one year of employment in the past three will be determined by looking at the three years prior to the alien’s transfer to the country. The U.S. business must have been established for at least one year before filing the petition.
How is one considered for executive capacity?
For a person to be considered an execjutive, the job must meet the following requirements:
- Manage an organization or major component
- Have authority to make policy and establish goals
- Have discretionary decision-making authority
- Be subject to only general supervision from higher executives the board of directors, or stockholders
How is one considered for managerial capacity?
For a person to be considered a manager, the job must meet the following requirements:
- Manage an organization or department
- Supervise and control other managers or professional level personnel
- Authority to make personnel decisions
- Have discretion to make decisions about operations
- As with executives, the size of the business is an important factor
EB-2 Workers with Advanced Degrees or Exceptional Ability in the Sciences, Arts, or Business
EB-2 Visas are available to Workers with Advanced Degrees or Exceptional Ability in the Sciences, Arts, or Business.
Who is considered to be an Alien of Exceptional Ability?
The key to demonstrating exceptional ability is to show that the applicant possesses a level of expertiseabove that which would normally be encountered in the field. Exceptional ability is limited to aliens inthe fields of arts, science and business.
Who is considered an Advanced Degree Professional?
An advanced degree is any academic or professional degree above the level of a bachelor’s degree.
EB-3 Skilled Workers and Professionals
EB-3 Skilled Workers and Professionals
Who is considered a professional by the USCIS?
This category is available only to those who hold a U.S. bachelor’s degree or its foreign equivalent.
Who is considered a skilled worker by the USCIS?
For a person to qualify as a skilled worker, the position offered must require at least two years trainingand experience. And the alien must possess the requisite experience.
Who is considered an “other worker” by the USCIS?
This category covers “unskilled labor,” defined by the Department of Labor as work that takes less thantwo years training or experience to perform.
EB-4 Special Immigrants Including Religious Workers
EB-4 Special Immigrants Including Religious Workers
To qualify as an EB-4 special immigrant religious worker, you must be a member of a religiousdenomination that has a non-profit religious organization in the United States. You must havebeen a member of this religious denomination for at minimum two years before applying foradmission to the United States. Furthermore, you must be entering the country to work:
- As a minister or priest of the religious denomination;
- In a religious vocation or occupation either in a professional or nonprofessionalcapacity for the religious organization (a professional capacity means that a U.S.baccalaureate degree or foreign equivalent is required to do this job); or
- In a religious vocation or occupation for the religious organization or its nonprofit affiliate. A religious vocation means a calling or devotion to religiouslife. Taking vows can prove that you have a calling to religious life. A religiousoccupation is an activity devoted to traditional religious functions.
Under this program, entrepreneurs (and their spouses and unmarried children under 21) areeligible to apply for a green card (permanent residence) if they make the necessary investment in a commercial enterprise in the United States and plan to create or preserve 10 permanent full-time jobs for qualified U.S. workers.
A Visa – Foreign Government Officials
B Visa – Temporary Visitors
- B-1 – Visitor for business
- B-2 – Visitor for pleasure – tourism, sightseeing, visiting relatives
C Visa – Foreign Nationals in Transit
D Visa – Crewmen (D1 and D2)
E Visa – Treaty Traders and Investors
F Visa – Academic Students
- F-1 – Student
- F-2 – Spouse or child of F1 student
G Visa – Foreign Government Officials to International Organizations (G1- 5)
H Visa – Temporary Workers
- H-1B – Engineers, scientists, specialty occupations, models, etc.
- H-1C – Nurses working in health professional shortage areas
- H-2A -Agricultural worker
- H-2B -Temporary worker, skilled and unskilled
- H-3 – Trainee
- H-4 – Spouse or child of H-1, H-2 or H-3
I Visa – Foreign Media Representatives
J Visa – Exchange Visitors
- J-1 – Exchange visitor
- J-2 – Spouse or child of J-1
K Visa – Spouse or Fiance(e) of U.S. Citizen
- K-1 – Fiance(e)
- K-2 – Minor child of K-1
- K-3 – Spouse of U.S. citizen
- K-4 – Child of K-3
L Visa – Intracompany Transferee
- L-1A – Executives, managers
- L-1B – Specialized knowledge
- L-2 – Spouse or child of L-1
M Visa – Non-Academic Students
- M-1 – Vocational, language, or other non-academic student
- M-2 – Spouse or child of M-1
N Visa – Special Immigrants
NAFTA Visa – North American Free Trade Agreement
NATO Visa – North Atlantic Treaty Organization
O Visa – Workers with Extraordinary Abilities
- O-1 – Extraordinary ability in science, arts, education, business or athletics
- O-2 – Alien accompanying O-1
- O-3 – Spouse or child of O-1 or O-2
P Visa – Athletes and Entertainers
Q Visa – International Cultural Exchange Visitors
R Visa – Religious Workers
S Visa – Witness or Informant
T Visa – Victims of Severe Form of Trafficking in Persons
TN Visa – Trade visas for Canadians and Mexicans
TD Visa – Spouse or child of TN
TPS Visa – Temporary Protected Status
TWOV Visa – Transit Without Visa (Passenger or Crew)
U Visa – Victims of Certain Crimes
Anyone who is not a United States citizen can be placed in removal proceedings and ultimatelybe deported. Even a lawful permanent resident can be deported under certain circumstances.
Removal proceedings can be initiated for various reasons, including entering the countrywithout inspection, overstaying a visa, entry using fraudulent documents, and arrests and/orconvictions for misdemeanors or felonies. In certain cases, relief from removal (deportation) isavailable.
At Theus Law Offices, we can help you apply for the following types of relief in immigrationcourt:
- Cancellation of removal
- Adjustment of status
- Withholding of removal
- Suspension of deportation
- Waivers of deportability & inadmissibility
- Voluntary Departure
- Prosecutorial Discretion/Administrative Closure
If you are facing or anticipate facing removal proceedings,let us help you.
Health care workers may also qualify employment based green cards (EB-1 through EB-5), if they meet the necessary requirements.
Many foreign physicians coming to train in U.S. residency programs enter through the J-1exchange visitor program. J-1 exchange visitors coming to the United States for graduate training mustbe certified and sponsored by the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG).
J-1 visas require returning to your home country for two years, but you can avoid thisrequirement if you qualify for a waiver. Theus Law Offices can help you apply for and obtain a J-1waiver.
The H-1C nonimmigrant temporary worker classification is for foreign nurses coming to theUnited States temporarily to perform services as a registered nurse in a health professional shortagearea as determined by the Department of Labor (DOL).
To qualify for an H-1C visa you must:
- Have a full and unrestricted nursing license in the country where your nursing education wasobtained, or have received a nursing education and license in the United States
- Be authorized by the appropriate U.S. State Board of Nursing to practice within the state
- Have passed the examination given by the Commission on Graduates for Foreign NursingSchools (CGFNS), or have a full and unrestricted license to practice as a Registered Nurse in thestate where you will work, or have a full and unrestricted Registered Nurse’s license in any stateand have received temporary authorization to practice as an Registered Nurse in the statewhere you will work. For more information, please see the Commission on Graduates forForeign Nursing Schools (CGFNS) link to the right
- Have been fully qualified and eligible under the state laws of the state of intended employmentto practice as a Registered Nurse immediately upon admission to the United States
The employer must meet edibility criteria in order to file a Form I-129, Petition for NonimmigrantWorker, under the H-1C Program. To qualify, the U.S. employer must:
- Be a “subpart D” hospital under the Social Security Act
- Be located in a “Health Professional Shortage Area”
- Have at least 190 acute care beds
- Have a Medicare population of no less than 35 percent
- Have a Medicaid population of no less than 28 percent
- Be certified by the Department of Labor
In order to qualify for an H-1B visa, the immigrant must meet the following requirements:
- The position must be a specialty occupation. This applies to doctors, nurses (only wherebachelor’s degrees are required), physical therapists, occupational therapists, physicianassistants and other job classifications where a bachelor’s degree is the norm
- The employer must pay the prevailing wage as set forth in the Department of Labor’s (DOL) regulations
- The employer must file an H-1B petition on behalf of the employee, and the employee mustwork for the petitioning employer pursuant to the terms of the approved H-1B status
- The employer must file a labor condition application (LCA) with the Department of Labor.
NAFTA (TN) Visa
Health care workers who are citizens of Canada and Mexico can obtain a TN visa. Inorder to qualify for a TN visa, the immigrant must meet the following requirements:
- You are a Canadian or Mexican citizen
- The job qualifies under NAFTA as listed in NAFTA Appendix 1603.D
- You are qualified to work in this business activity
- Your intention to stay is temporary in nature.
Many visa options exist for institutions of higher education, especially with regard to professors,researchers and students. The following visas might be a legitimate option, depending upon thequalifications of the individual:
The J-1 is a nonimmigrant visa program under which professors and researchers engage inresearch, teaching, and lecturing at American institutions of higher learning.
Professors are eligible for a J-1 visa if they engage primarily in teaching, lecturing, observing orconsulting at a post-secondary accredited institution, museum, library or similar type of institution.
Researchers are eligible for a J-1 visa if they primarily conduct research, observe or consult inconnection with a research project at research institutions, corporate research facilities, museums,libraries, post-secondary accredited educational institutions or similar types of institutions.
In order to qualify for a J-1 visa, the professor or research must also meet the following conditions:
- the participant must not be a candidate for a tenure track position
- the participant has not been physically present in the United States as a nonimmigrant for all or part of the 12-month period immediately preceding the date of theprogram commencement set forth on form DS-2019, unless:
- the participant is transferring to the sponsor’s program;
- the participant’s presence in the United States was less than six months induration; or
- the participant’s presence in the United States was pursuant to a short-termscholar exchange activity
- the participant is not subject to the prohibition against repeat participation
H-1B visas are available to researchers and professors across many fields of study. Eventhough there is an annual H-1B visa cap of 65,000, many professors and researchers who are employedby post-secondary institutions are generally exempt from the cap.
In order to qualify for an H-1B visa, the immigrant must meet the following requirements:
- The position must be a specialty occupation (this applies to most professors and researchers);
- The employer must pay the prevailing wage as set forth in the Department of Labor’s (DOL)regulations;
- The employer must file an H-1B petition on behalf of the employee, and the employee mustwork for the petitioning employer pursuant to the terms of the approved H-1B status; and
- The employer must file a labor condition application (LCA) with the Department of Labor
The O-1A visa is for people who are recognized as being at the very top of their field andwho are coming to the United States to continue work in that field. To establish eligibility for anO-1A visa you must either have received a major, internationally recognized award, similar to aNobel Prize, or submit evidence that affirmatively answers at least 3 of the 8 questions below:
- Have you received a lesser nationally or internationally recognized prize or award for excellencein the field of endeavor?
- Are you a member of any associations which require outstanding achievements of theirmembers as judged by recognized national or international experts?
- Is there published material in professional or major trade publications or major media aboutyou which relates to your work in the field?
- Have you participated on a panel or individually as a judge of the work of others in the same orin an allied field of specialization?
- Have you made original scientific, scholarly or business-related contributions of majorsignificance?
- Have you authored scholarly articles in professional journals or other major media?
- Have you been employed in a critical or essential capacity for organizations and establishmentsthat have a distinguished reputation?
- Have you or will you command a high salary or other remuneration for your services?
Professors and researchers may also qualify employment based green cards (EB-1 through EB-5), if theymeet the necessary requirements.
Foreign students who seek to study at a post-secondary institution in the United States mustgo through the following steps:
- Apply to and be accepted by a Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP)-approvedschool in the US (six to 12 months prior to U.S. study)
- Pay the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) fee
- Complete a U.S. student visa application
- Pay the visa application fee
- Schedule and attend a visa interview
Becoming a U.S. citizenship carries many privileges including, but not limited to, the following:
- Freedom to express yourself
- Freedom to worship as you wish
- Right to a prompt, fair trial by jury
- Right to vote in elections for public officials
- Right to apply for federal employment requiring U.S. citizenship
- Right to run for elected office
- Freedom to pursue “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness”
- Right to be free from deportation if you plead guilty to or are convicted of certain crimes
In order to naturalize (become a U.S. citizen), you must meet the following qualifications:
- Be at least 18 years old
- Just before applying, a naturalization applicant must have been physically present in theU.S. for at least 30 months out of the previous five years. However, if the applicant wasabsent for more than six months but less than one year, the applicant may still beeligible if he or she can show that the absence was not an abandonment of resident status
- Show good moral character during the five-year period prior to application (three yearsif married to a U.S. citizen or one year for certain military exceptions)
- Declare the applicant’s willingness to support and defend the U.S. and the Constitution
- Be able to read, write, speak, and understand English words in ordinary use. Someapplicants may be exempt because of age or mental condition
- Demonstrate knowledge of the fundamentals of U.S. history and certain principles ofU.S. government. Applicants are exempt if they have a medically recognizable physicalor mental impairment that affects their ability to learn or understand these topics
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