March 21, 2017
US Immigration system
BY : Legato

The Open Doors Report on International Education Exchange released in November, 15 revealed that Indian students going to the US went up by 29.4% by this year. From hosting around 1.02 lakh Indian students last year, US has been the destination for 30,000 more students in 2014-15 - the largest growth from a single country. The single-year growth rate for India is the highest in the history of open doors, since 1954-55, comparable only with the growth witnessed in 2000-01, when the jump was of 29.1%.

The Open Doors report is annually published by the Institute of International Education in partnership with the US department of state's bureau of education and cultural affairs.

Apart from it, as of 2014, Indian immigrants living in US represented third largest Asian immigrant group by country of origin. Indian immigrants account for more than 3.34 million Indians, living behind China & Philippines. Indian-Americans grew 76%  from 2000 to 2012, a report on demographics of the Asian-American population released by the Center for American Progress said. This data might be impressive, but getting immigration to US is not that easy. Let’s try to understand the concept from its basic.

What is Immigration basically?

Movement of people to the foreign country from their native country in order to settle there permanently or to become future citizens is called as ‘immigration’. Immigrants usually leave their native countries for a variety of reasons, including a desire for economic prosperity, political issues, family reunification, escaping conflict or natural disaster, or simply the wish to change one's surroundings. It is highly controversial topic in today’s world.

What is Act of Naturalization?

In Accordance with United States, Naturalization Law was passed in March 26, 1790 (1 Stat. 103) which provided the first rules to be followed by the United States in granting of national citizenship.

Immigration Law of US:

The Immigration and Naturalization Act (INA), the body of law governing current immigration policy, provides for an annual worldwide limit of 675,000 permanent immigrants.  Immigration to the United States is based upon the following principles.

  1. Family Reunification

Family unification is an important principle governing immigration policy. The family-based immigration category allows U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents (LPRs) to bring certain family members to the United States. There are 480,000 family-based visas available every year. Family-based immigrants are admitted to the U.S. either as immediate relatives of U.S. citizens or through the family preference system.

An immediate relative refers to:

  • Spouses of U.S. citizens.
  • Unmarried minor children of U.S. citizens (under 21 years old).
  • Parents of U.S. citizens (petitioner must be at least 21 years old to petition for a parent).
  1. Employment –Based Immigrations
    • Temporary Visas

Immigrants with valuable skills can come to the United States on either a permanent or a temporary basis.

There are more than 20 types of visas for temporary non-immigrant workers. These include

  • ‘L’ visas for intra-company transfers,
  • ‘P’ visas for athletes, entertainers and skilled performers,
  • ‘R’ visas for religious workers,
  • ‘A’ Visas for diplomatic employees,
  • ‘O’ visas for workers of extraordinary ability and
  • A variety of ‘H’ visas for both highly-skilled and lesser-skilled employment.
    • The most popular visa among professionals is’ H-1B’ Under dis visa temporary professionals (for specialty occupations such as doctors, engineers, physical therapists, computer professionals; must have at least bachelor’s degree). A person may hold H1B status for a maximum of six years, and it may be issued in increments of up to three years by the USCIS.And H4 visa is for dependent as spouse & child.

Many of the temporary worker categories are for highly skilled workers, and immigrants with a temporary work visa are normally sponsored by a specific employer for a specific job offer. Many of the temporary visa categories have numerical limitations as well. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) website contains a more complete list of temporary worker categories.

  • Permanent Visa

Permanent employment-based immigration is set at a rate of 140,000 visas per year, and these are divided into 5 preferences, each subject to numerical limitations.

  • Category 1 qualifies ‘Persons of extraordinary ability’ in the arts, science, education, business, or athletics; outstanding professors and researchers, some multinational executives.
  • Category 2 qualifies Members of the professions holding advanced degrees, or persons of exceptional abilities in the arts, science, or business.
  • Category 3 qualifies skilled workers with at least two years of training or experience, professionals with college degrees, or “other” workers for unskilled labor that is not temporary or seasonal.
  • Category 4 qualifies certain “special immigrants” including religious workers, employees of U.S. Foreign Service posts, former U.S. government employees and other classes of aliens.
  • Category 5 qualifies Persons who will invest $500,000 to $1 million in a job-creating enterprise that employs at least 10 full time U.S. workers.

3. Refugees & Asylees

There are several categories of legal admission available to people who are fleeing persecution or are unable to return to their homeland due to life-threatening or extraordinary conditions.

Refugees are admitted to the United States based upon an inability to return to their home countries because of a “well-founded fear of persecution” due to their race, membership in a social group, political opinion, religion, or national origin.

4. Promoting diversity

The Diversity Visa lottery was created by the Immigration Act of 1990 as a dedicated channel for immigrants from countries with low rates of immigration to the United States. Although originally intended to favor immigration from Ireland (during the first three years of the program at least 40 percent of the visas were exclusively allocated to Irish immigrants), the Diversity Visa program has become one of the only avenues for individuals from certain regions in the world to secure a green card (LPR).

To be eligible for a diversity visa an immigrant must have a high-school education (or its equivalent) or have, within the past five years, a minimum of two years working in a profession requiring at least two years of training or experience. A computer-generated random lottery drawing chooses selected for diversity visas. The visas are distributed among six geographic regions with a greater number of visas going to regions with lower rates of immigration, and with no visas going to nationals of countries sending more than 50,000 immigrants to the U.S. over the last five years.

People from eligible countries in different continents may register for the lottery. However, because these visas are distributed on a regional basis, the program especially benefits Africans and Eastern Europeans. According to the last Visa Bulletin in FY 2014, the majority of Diversity Visas will go to aspiring immigrants from African countries. While supporters of the Diversity Visa system underscore the system’s value as the only equal opportunity provider, opponents tend to emphasize the irrationality of a system that allocates immigrant visas randomly.

However, a visa does not guarantee entry to the United States. Any kind of visa simply indicates that a U.S. consular officer has determined that you are eligible to apply for entry to the United States for a specific purpose.

Reforms

However, getting an LPR in US was not an easy job until some major reforms were not brought in the US Immigration system under Barack Obama’s Presidency.

  • Dream Act

For addressing the tragedy of young people who grew up in the United States and have graduated from our high schools, US government introduces a new reform in the bill under the immigration law.

Under previous law, these young people generally derive their immigration status solely from their parents, and if their parents are undocumented or in immigration limbo, most of them have no mechanism to obtain legal residency, even if they have lived most of their lives in the U.S.

The DREAM Act would provide such a mechanism for those who are able to meet certain conditions. The latest version of the DREAM Act, also known as the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act, was introduced on May 11, 2011, in the US Senate (S. 952).

What Law states:

Under the DREAM Act, most students who came to the U.S. at age 15 or younger at least five years before the date of the bill’s enactment and who have maintained good moral character since entering the U.S. would qualify for conditional permanent resident status upon acceptance to college, graduation from a U.S. high school, or being awarded a GED in the U.S. Students would not qualify for this relief if they had committed crimes, were a security risk, or were inadmissible or removable on certain other grounds. Under the Senate bill qualifying students must be under age 35, whereas under the House bill they must be under age 32.

  • Executive Reform in H-1B Visa

On November 2014, a series of executive actions were announced US President Barack Obama to grant up to 5million unauthorized immigrant’s protection from deportation. He allowed high-skilled workers to move or change jobs more easily, and streamlines visa and court procedures, among others.

Indian immigrants were benefited in several ways. Portable work authorization were being provided to ‘H’ category which means immigrants from this category waiting in green card queue can move or change job more easily. The dependent LPR i.e. H4 Visa holder had given employment authorization. Here dependent from H4 visa will be authorized to work and will be granted three years at a time. Foreign entrepreneur who meet certain criteria for creating jobs, attracting investment and generating revenues in the US offered more immigration options.

Some facts about Indian Immigrants in US:

  • As of 2007, almost half of all lawful India-born residents in the U.S. were originally granted residency through an employment sponsored visa.
  • Compared to all immigrants who gained LPR status in 2012, Indians were more likely to arrive through an employment-based channel.
  • Nearly 43,000 Indian immigrants became naturalized U.S. citizens in 2012.

Immigration becomes a key issue when your business is expanding. You may probably need to send your employees to a foreign location or would like to employ a foreign national in your home country. Such moves require that you and your potential employee comply with immigration guidelines of a country. These guidelines differ from country to country. It can be extremely complex especially if you do not have an attorney to walk you through the process. Legato.com puts you in touch with professionals who understand how immigration works internationally and can thus guide you through these procedures effortlessly.