Types Of Immigration Categories In The U.S. & How It Works

The Immigration and Nationality Act in the United allows up to 675,000 permanent immigrant visas each year across various categories. The categories include:

1. Family-Based Immigration

Family-based immigrants are admitted either as immediate relatives of U.S. citizens or through the family preference system. However, the prospective immigrants under the immediate relative’s category must meet the standard eligibility criteria. The close relatives that are considered include:

  • spouses of U.S. citizens;
  • unmarried minor children of U.S. citizens (under 21-years-old)
  • the parents of U.S. citizens (the petitioner must be at least 21-years-old).
  • The family preference system of immigration services include:
  • adult children (married and unmarried) and brothers and sisters of U.S. citizens (petitioner must be at least 21-years-old)
  • spouses and unmarried children (minor and adult) of Lawful Permanent Residents (LPRs).

To be admitted through the family-based immigration system, a U.S. citizen or LPR sponsor must petition for an individual relative, meet minimum income requirements, prove the legitimacy of the relationship, and sign an affidavit of support stating that the sponsor will be financially responsible for the family member(s) upon arrival in the United States. The individual relative who is being petitioned for must also meet specific eligibility requirements. 

2. Employment-Based Immigration

The U.S. government provides different ways for immigrants with valuable skills to come to the country on either a temporary or permanent basis.

Temporary Visa Classifications

Temporary employment-based visa classifications permit employers to hire and petition foreign nationals for specific jobs for a limited period. Most temporary workers must work for the employer that petitioned them. There are more than 20 types of visas for temporary nonimmigrant workers, such as L-1 visas for intracompany transfers, R-1 visas for religious workers, various H visas for both highly-skilled and lesser-skilled workers, etc. The visa classifications vary in terms of their duration, eligibility requirements, and whether they permit the workers to bring dependents, besides other factors.

3. Permanent Immigration

The overall numerical limit for permanent employment-based immigrants is 140,000 every year. This number includes the immigrants plus their eligible spouses and minor unmarried children. There are five preference categories here, such as “persons of extraordinary ability” in the arts, science, education, business, or athletics, skilled workers with at least two years of training or experience, special immigrants, etc. 

Refugees, Asylees, and Other Vulnerable Populations-

There are several legal admission categories for people who are avoiding persecution or are unable to return to their homeland due to life-threatening or other situations.

Refugees usually apply for admission from outside the United States, generally from a “transition country” that is not their home country. 

Asylum is available to persons already in the United States seeking protection based on mostly the same grounds that refugees rely on. There is no limit on the number of individuals who may be granted asylum in a given year.  CIS (California Immigration Services is an immigration company in USA with a well-rounded team of immigration consultants and legal document assistants who help immigrants with the paperwork and help them gain a safe passage.

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