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Q: What is USCIS?
A: USCIS stands for U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. It is the agency of the U.S. government principally responsible for matters dealing with aliens in the United States. This includes giving it jurisdiction over immigrant petitions and adjustment of status applications. Prior to March of 2003, the USCIS was called the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS). For a brief period of time, it was known as the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services (BCIS). It is also sometimes just referred to as the CIS. For purposes of this web site, we use the currently accepted name, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services or USCIS.
Q: Who is handling my case if I retain Z&A?
A: Our attorneys handle their clients' cases individually by preparing petition letters, contacting clients, and following up pending cases. That's why we have more attorneys than clerks. Our clerks' main objective is to help attorneys prepare clients' packages, and each client's package will be finally reviewed by one of our most experienced attorneys before the package is sent to the USCIS.
Q: What is a green card?
A: A green card is physical evidence of the holder's legal permanent residence in the U.S. It is a plastic card bearing the holder's name, date of birth, and Alien Registration Number, etc.
Q: What are the benefits of being a legal permanent resident?
A: As a legal permanent resident, you are granted the privilege of living and working permanently in the United States.
Q: How many steps must I go through to become an immigrant based on employment?
A: You must go through a multi-step process to become an immigrant based on employment:
In most employment categories, a U.S. employer must complete a labor certification request for you with the Department of Labor.
The USCIS must approve the immigrant petition that was filed on your behalf, usually by an employer.
If an immigrant visa number becomes available to you, you may apply to adjust to permanent resident status if you are in the U.S. If you are outside the U.S. when an immigrant visa number becomes available, you will be notified to go to the U.S. consulate or embassy with jurisdiction over your area to complete the processing for an immigrant visa.
In certain circumstances, some steps are not needed, or certain steps can be completed simultaneously.
Q: How many steps must I go through to become an immigrant based on a family relationship?
A: Usually, you must go through the following multi-step process:
The USCIS must approve an immigrant visa petition, I-130 for Alien Relative, for you. You can find Form I-130 here, and the instructions for the form here. This petition is filed by your relative (sponsor) and must be accompanied by proof of your relationship to the requesting relative.
The Department of State must determine if an immigrant visa number is immediately available to you, even if you are already in the United States.
When an immigrant visa number becomes immediately available to you, you may apply to adjust to permanent resident status if you are in the U.S. If you are outside the United States when an immigrant visa number becomes available, you will be notified to go to the local U.S. consulate to complete the processing for an immigrant visa.
Q: What form must my sponsoring relative file with the USCIS if my immigration petition is family-based?
A: Your eligible sponsor must file a Form I-130 and supporting documents. You can find Form I-130 here, and the instructions for the form here. For detailed information about Family-based Immigration, please click here.
Q: What form must my sponsoring employer file with the USCIS if my immigration petition is employment-based?
A: Your sponsoring employer must file a Form I-140 and the supporting documents. For detailed information about Employment-based immigration, please click here.
Q: Who is eligible for Employment Based Immigration?
A: There are five categories of employment based immigration:
First Preference (EB-1 priority workers): aliens with extraordinary ability, outstanding professors and researchers, and certain multinational executives and managers.
Second Preference (EB-2 workers with advanced degrees or exceptional ability): aliens who are members of the professions holding advanced degrees or their equivalent and aliens who, because of their exceptional ability in the sciences, arts, or business, will substantially benefit the national economic, cultural, or educational interests or welfare of the United States.
Third Preference (EB-3 professionals, skilled workers, and other workers): aliens with at least two years of experience as skilled workers, professionals with a baccalaureate degree, and others with less than two years’ experience, such as an unskilled worker who can perform labor for which qualified workers are not available in the United States.
Fourth Preference (EB-4 special workers such as those in a religious occupation or vocation): aliens who, for at least two years before applying for admission to the United States, have been a member of a religious denomination that has a non-profit religious organization in the United States, and who will be working in a religious vocation or occupation at the request of the religious organization.
Fifth Preference (EB-5 Employment Creation) Entrepreneurs engaging in a new commercial enterprise in the United States.
Q: Who is eligible to sponsor a relative to immigrate to the United States?
A: To be eligible to sponsor a relative to immigrate to the United States, a person must meet the following criteria:
He/she must be a citizen or a lawful permanent resident of the United States and be able to provide documentation proving his/her status.
He/she must prove that he/she can support his/her relative at 125% above the mandated poverty line.
If he/she is a US Citizen, he/she may petition for the following foreign national relatives to immigrate to the United States; however he/she must be able to provide proof of the relationship:
If he/she is a lawful permanent resident he/she may petition for the following foreign national relatives to immigrate to the United States; however he/she must be able to provide proof of the relationships:
Q: Who is included as the immediate relatives of U.S. citizens?
A: The immediate relatives of U.S. citizens include parents, spouses and unmarried children under the age of 21. Those relatives do not have to wait for an immigrant visa number to become available once the visa petition filed for them is approved. An immigrant visa number will be immediately available for immediate relatives of U.S. citizens.
Q: Who are other eligible beneficiaries of family-based immigration other than the immediate relative of U.S. citizens?
A: These relatives fall into one of the following four preferences:
Q: What is the United States Asylum Program and who benefits?
A: Asylum may be granted to people who are already in the United States and are unable or unwilling to return to their home country because of persecution or a well-founded fear of persecution on account of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion. If you are granted asylum, you will be allowed to live and work in the United States. You also will be able to apply for permanent resident status one year after you are granted asylum. For detailed information about Asylum, please click here.
For more information about Road to Green Card, please click the following topics: