“Everywhere immigrants have enriched and strengthened the fabric of American life.”
These words remain as true today as they were in 1958, when then-U.S. Senator John F. Kennedy wrote them in his renowned book, “A Nation of Immigrants.”
At The Chidolue Law Firm, you have the assurance of a dedicated Orlando immigration lawyer working as your navigator and advocate on your journey through complex U.S. immigration laws. Our business immigration and family immigration clients trust us to help them secure the documentation necessary to lawfully enter and/or remain within U.S. borders.
According to The Pew Research Center, more than 40 million U.S. residents were born in another country, accounting for one-fifth of the world’s migrants and 13.5 percent of the U.S. population in a single recent year. Another Pew analysis of U.S. Census data reveals more than 75 percent of those immigrants are in the country lawfully, and 45 percent of those are naturalized. In Florida, immigrants – primarily from Cuba, Haiti, Mexico, Colombia and Jamaica – comprise 20 percent of our population and one-quarter of our workforce.
Immigrants flock to the Sunshine State for a myriad of reasons. Some seek opportunity in education, a chance to excel in their career or the promise of propelling their business to a wider market. For others, Florida is where their families are. They’re here to join their spouses, siblings, children and parents.
Our Orlando immigration attorneys are committed to unlocking those doors. Serving the greater Orlando metro area, including Lake Mary and Sanford, we’re a local immigration law firm with global reach.
Types of U.S. Immigration Visas in Florida
Securing a visa is a key step for those who wish to enter the U.S. legally or to extend one’s stay once they’re here. It’s also necessary in the early stages of obtaining a green card that allows permanent residency.
Whether you are working to secure a U.S. visa from afar or wish to change your status now that you’re here, consulting with an Orlando immigration lawyer makes that process so much smoother. Our immigration law firm also helps you avoid errors of timeliness and technicality that so many visa seekers have found (the hard way) to be very costly.
Per the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Consular Affairs, there are two broad categories of visas: Immigrant and Nonimmigrant.
There are more than 20 types of nonimmigrant U.S. visas granted for certain travel purposes where the individual does not intend to establish long-term U.S. residency. This broad category includes (but is not limited to) visitors such as:
- Au pairs
- Exchange students
- Entertainers/performing artists
- Religious workers
- Medical treatment patients
- Temporary agricultural/seasonal workers
- Treaty traders/treaty investors
Immigrant visas, meanwhile, include:
- Employment-sponsored professionals
- Immediate relative-and-family-sponsored individuals (including spouses and fiancé(e)s to U.S. citizens – with allowances for same-sex spouses, intercountry child adoptees of U.S. citizens and certain family members of U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents)
- Religious workers
- Iraqi and Afghan translators, interpreters and others in those nations who worked on behalf of the U.S. government
Other immigrants may include those traveling on a diversity immigrant visa and returning residents.
The government requires that visas be valid at the time one seeks to enter the U.S., but the expiration date on the visa is not a reflection of the length of time a temporary visitor has permission to remain in the country. Working with an experienced Orlando immigration lawyer can help you avoid misunderstandings and ensure you understand the parameters and timelines applicable to your visa.
Immigrant Employment Visas, Permanent Residency and Citizenship
The first step in obtaining many of the employment-based immigrant visas to the U.S. (of which there are approximately 140,000 issued annually) involves a formal request from a prospective employer/agent for approval by the Department of Labor. From there, an alien worker petition is filed with U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services.
There are five preference categories of immigration visas for U.S. employment in Florida. From highest to lowest preference, those are:
- Individuals with extraordinary ability, outstanding professors/researchers and multinational managers and executives.
- Professionals with advanced degrees or who have exceptional abilities.
- Skilled workers, professionals and other workers.
- Certain special immigrants, such as media broadcasters, certain former employees of the U.S. government abroad, certain unmarried sons and daughters, foreign medical graduates and certain religious workers.
- Immigrant investors in new commercial enterprises in the U.S. that offer job creation.
In some cases, spouses and children are permitted to accompany Florida employment-based immigrants to the U.S.
U.S. employment visas are issued in the chronological order in which they were filed until the yearly limit is reached. Wait periods can be several years for certain categories where there is a great deal of competition. Your Orlando immigration attorney can give you a general idea and assist you in gathering and submission of the necessary forms and documents so your request meets all requirements when your turn comes around.
Orlando Immigration Attorneys Assisting with Family Immigration Petitions
If you are seeking permission to live in the U.S. to join a loved one who lives in Central Florida, you will likely be pursuing a family-based immigrant visa. There are two-different types: Immediate relative immigrant visas (which are unlimited and given first preference) and family preference visas (which are capped annually and given second preference).
A person can seek an immediate relative immigration visa if they are a(n):
- Spouse of an American citizen
- Unmarried child under 21 of a citizen
- Orphan adopted abroad by a citizen
- Orphan to be adopted in the U.S. by a citizen
- Parent of a citizen who is at least 21
There are also family preference visas, allowed for more distant family relationships. These can include:
- Unmarried sons, daughters and minor grandchildren of U.S. citizens
- Spouses, minor children and unmarried children over 21 (8 in 10 of visas in this category goes to spouses and minor children)
- Married sons and daughters of citizens, their spouses and minor children
- Siblings of citizens, their spouses and minor children
Unfortunately, other extended family members, such as cousins, in-laws, uncles, aunts and grandparents cannot serve as a sponsor to their relative for immigration purposes.
Pursuing Permanent Residency or Citizenship
If you are already in the U.S. on a visa and have interest in obtaining a Green Card (or more technically known as a Permanent Resident Card), our Orlando immigration lawyers can assist with this too.
A Green Card will give you permission to live and work in the U.S. permanently. The process for application varies depending on one’s unique situation. U.S. citizens can sponsor an immigrant for permanent residency on the basis of their familial or professional relationship. Individuals can petition for themselves if they are refugees/seeking asylum, entrepreneurs and in other special immigrant categories.
At The Chidolue Law Firm, we understand the complicated terminology and complex bureaucratic processes of U.S. immigration policy to get you closer to your dream of living and working in Florida.
Contact the Florida immigration attorneys at The Chidolue Law Firm, serving Orlando and Lake Mary, by calling (407) 995-6567 or email us.