Q: What are some factors that are considered by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) in granting an individual immigration status?

A: Factors considered by the USCIS include:


Whether the applicant has an immediate relative who is a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident;

Whether the applicant has a permanent employment opportunity in the U.S., and whether that employment fits under one of the five eligible employment categories;

Whether the applicant is making a capital investment in the U.S. that meets certain dollar thresholds, and that either creates or saves a specified number of jobs; and

Whether the applicant qualifies for refugee status as an individual who suffers or fears persecution on the basis of race, religion, nationality, political view, or membership in a certain group in his or her country of origin.


Important Factors Affecting Immigration

U.S. immigration law is very complex, and can be very confusing. In order to understand the process, you need to understand the factors related to the law and policies of immigration.


The Immigration and Naturalization Act (INA), the law governing U.S. immigration policy, provides for an annual limit of 675,000 permanent immigrants (with certain exceptions for close family members). Congress and the President determine a separate number for refugee admissions. Historically, immigration to the United States has been based on the reunification of families, admitting immigrants with skills that are valuable to the U.S. economy, and protecting refugees.


I. Family-Based Immigration


The family-based immigration category allows U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents to bring certain family members to the United States. Family-based visas are limited to 480,000 per year. On the other hand, there is no numerical limit on visas available for immediate relatives, such as children or spouses, but petitioners must meet certain age and financial requirements.


Because there are a limited number of family-based visas available every year, petitioners are subject to a preference system. The preference system includes adult children (married and unmarried) and brothers and sisters of U.S. citizens.


Congress also uses a complicated system that balances other types of immigrants against family-based immigrants to allow for additional family-based immigrants if a number of other contingencies occurred. For more information, contact an experienced immigration attorney.


In order to be admitted through the family preference system, a U.S. Citizen or Long-term Permanent Resident sponsor must petition for an individual relative (and establish the legitimacy of the relationship), meet minimum income requirements and sign an affidavit of support stating that they will be financially responsible for their family member(s) upon arrival to the United States.


II. Employment Based Immigration