Individual Immigration Law

Immigration petitions and applications come in different varieties and with differing degrees of complexity. Some involve obtaining a straightforward benefit, for example naturalization (obtaining US citizenship). Other applications involve overcoming a burden of proof, for example establishing extreme hardship to a qualifying relative for an unlawful presence waiver.

The law governing US immigration is the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). All immigration petitions and applications are wholly different; each uses particular targeted INA components. (Regulations, 8 CFR, are for putting the law into effect – “executing” it. Regulations aren’t laws. There lies the danger of Obama’s regulatory actions).

Your situation, and every client’s situation, consists of a unique interweaving of law and facts. Each case has different facts. Some immigration problems are so multi-faceted that they likely must be taken to another level of inquiry – an appeal – for the best chance of success. And especially with removal and deportation issues, some case facts and their applicable law need to be studied in depth just to determine if the client even qualifies for relief. (Do some immigration attorneys take sizable fees before even determining if relief is even possible? Yes.) Rarely does a quick, clear-cut answer exist.

Here I list some examples of common types of immigration solutions for individuals. Many more exist. This is just a sampling. You may call me anytime to ask about your situation. Please do. Whoever you call, be careful. Note – Immigrant visas are for permanent US admission, Nonimmigrant visas for temporary.

Visitors (B visas)

Visitor visas are very common nonimmigrant visas. US policy favors tourism. Showing foreign property and asset holdings assures you’ll obtain a visitor visa. Visa waiver countries don’t require visitor visas.

Lawful Permanent Residence (LPR status – Green Cards)

Either though family or employment, or possibly the visa lottery, foreign nationals become LPRs, having many rights US citizens have (Form I-485).


Become a US Citizen; requires 5 years as an LPR, 3 if you marry a US citizen (Form N-400).

Family Adjustment

Petition spouses, parents, children, and siblings for LPR status (Form I-130).

‘J’ Visa

This is a shorter term nonimmigrant visa based on cultural exchanges between foreign countries and the US. This status usually permits full-time work authorization. Some J-1 visa holders are required to return to their country for two years after the visa expires.

Fiancé Visa

A nonimmigrant visa allowing the foreign national fiancé to enter the US and marry a US citizen.

Student Visa

A nonimmigrant visa allowing foreign students to study at the undergraduate and graduate levels.

‘R’ Visa

For religious workers, both immigrant and nonimmigrant; allows them to enter and remain in the US to fulfill obligations of their church.

Removal Relief

Defense from either Removal or Deportation; usually but not always in immigration court (INA § 212, § 237).

Asylum and Refugee Protection

For those fearing persecution or torture in their home countries (Form I-589).

Violence Against Women (VAWA)

Defense for victims of abusive US citizen and LPR spouses (Form I-360). Other categories use Form I-360, for example Special Immigrant Juveniles.

‘U’ Visas (Form I-918)

Provided for those aiding law enforcement.

Waivers (I-601, I-601A, 245(i), 212(h), 212(c), etc)

Allow applicants to overcome statutory bars to immigration benefits. Bars can stem from a criminal history, unlawful presence, document forgery, etc). Particular important is the I-601A Unlawful presence waiver. Aliens who’ve entered without inspection can apply while in the US, and eventually receive LPR status if they establish extreme hardship to a qualifying relative.

Deferred Action for Parental Accountability (DAPA)

For parents of US citizens. To simplify, these parents are eligible for this relief if (1) they’ve been in the US since January 2010,; (2) they’ve had a US citizen child by November 20, 2014; and (3) they’re not a deportation priority. DAPA won’t be available until Spring 2015, and allows only temporary “status.” A cynical political ploy by the executive branch, DAPA like DACA, could vanish very quickly when Obama vanishes. I recommend these only as emergency measures.

Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA)

Not sanctioned by Congress, this comprises a regulatory method for deferring deportation of certain qualifying young people (Form I-821D). Implemented originally for politically expedience, potential clients are wise to regard DACA an emergency measure.