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Chicago Immigration Law Blog

What is a visitor visa, and how can you get one?

If you or someone you know is foreign-born and interested in traveling to Illinois, Wisconsin or another part of the United States, you may be wondering whether you may do so with a visitor visa. A visitor visa may fit your needs if you are planning to stay in the country on a temporary basis, and if you are traveling to the United States for business, pleasure, tourism or visiting others.

Perhaps you are looking to travel to the United States for business meetings, for example, or to obtain medical treatment. You may also want a visitor visa if you are coming in to the country for a major sporting event, or for the wedding or birth of a family member. Per the U.S. Department of state, visitor visas typically allow for such activities, though others require other types of visas. For example, you cannot enroll in college or any type of long-term education program with a visitor visa, nor can you work as paid professional or a member of the press on one. You may, however, be able to do so using a different type of student or employment visa.

How can you bring your foreign fiancé or spouse to the U.S.?

If you are a legal U.S. citizen living in Illinois, Wisconsin or another part of the United States, a time may come when you want to bring your foreign fiancé or spouse stateside to come live with you. The process involved in doing so varies based on several factors, among them whether the person you are looking to bring to the U.S. is, in fact, your fiancé, or your spouse.

If you and your foreign partner have already married, then the U.S. Department of State reports that you have two options when it comes to helping him or her immigrate to the country. You can pursue an immigrant visa for a spouse of a U.S. citizen, in which case you need to fill out what is known as an immigrant Petition for Alien Relative.

4 possible congressional responses to DACA

Now that the current presidential administration has voted to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, many immigrants like you across Illinois, Wisconsin and the rest of the United States are wondering what lies ahead. At the Francis Law Center, we closely follow developments relating to DACA, and we have helped many clients looking to come to the United States for personal, professional and educational reasons.

DACA’s shutdown is not set to take effect for another six months, and some members of the U.S. Congress are trying to come up with alternative options for the estimated 800,000 DREAMers like you it would impact. Per National Public Radio, one proposed option is known as the Dream Act, which is not entirely different from DACA in that it offers the offspring of immigrants who arrived in the nation as children an eventual path toward citizenship, provided they meet specific criteria.

What criteria must you meet for a second-preference EB-2 visa?

If you or someone you love is looking to immigrate to Illinois, Wisconsin or another part of the United States by way of a second-preference EB-2 visa, you may be wondering if you or that loved one meet the eligibility requirements needed to qualify. You may be able to secure this type of visa if you hold an advanced degree within your field or its equivalent, or if you are able to demonstrate an exceptional ability in the arts, business or science. You may also be able to pursue this type of visa via what is known as a National Interest Waiver.

To apply for an EB-2 visa for an advanced degree, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services dictates that you must produce documentation proving your educational background. You may, too, have to furnish communications from your past or present employers detailing your specialized work in your field. To pursue this type of visa based on an exceptional ability, or through a national interest waiver, you must meet at least three specific criteria outlined by USCIS. Please note, however, that those seeking NIW EB-2 visas must also show how their coming to the United States is in the nation’s best interests.

Lawsuit filed over withholding of sanctuary city safety grants

Many immigrants across Illinois are voicing their support for the city mayor, who has sued the U.S. Department of Justice in response to its new guidelines and decisions about withholding grant money used by sanctuary cities. Per the Chicago Tribune, the lawsuit questions three specific conditions used to determine whether to issue such grants to certain cities.

To qualify for grant money under the new guidelines, cities must meet three specific conditions, which some say are unlawful and unconstitutional. Under one of those conditions, cities must alert federal officials at least 48 hours ahead of releasing anyone suspected of immigration violations. Another condition dictates that sanctuary cities must grant federal officials complete access to their police stations, and a third condition asserts that sanctuary cities must share information about immigration statuses with federal officials working to enforce deportation laws.

What is the process for obtaining an immigrant visa?

Immigrating to the United States is a big topic right now in Illinois and across the country as reforms are being made. There is a legal process for moving to the country that must be followed to avoid future issues with deportation. If you have family that would like to come to this country, you need to follow the specific procedures outlined by the federal government.

Many people choose to move to the U.S. to be with family. This is so common the government has created a family immigration process, according to the U.S. Department of State. If you have a relative that wants to move here, he or she must first make sure it is allowed under the family visa category. Relatives include siblings, parents, spouses or fiancés and children.

Court rules immigrant children are entitled to court hearings

When federal authorities place immigrant children living in Illinois, Wisconsin and across the United States in detainment, those children have a right to challenge the decision and understand the reasoning behind it. So says the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, according to NBC Chicago, which recently ruled that immigrant children who do not have parents who reside in the country still have a right to a court hearing.

Currently, immigration advocates believe there are several hundred immigrant children in secure custody, and that denying these children a right to hearing, and therefore leaving the length of the detention up for debate, can have serious psychological effects. The U.S. Department of Justice also noted in 2016 that immigration judges frequently lack the knowledge and education necessary to make determinations about what it is best for an immigrant child. The organization suggested that the job is perhaps better left to those within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Fear keeping immigrant women from reporting domestic abuse

Signs indicate that immigrant women living across Illinois and the United States are more fearful than ever when it comes to reporting that they are victims of domestic abuse, but if you are among them, you may have options. At Francis Law Center, we have helped many clients navigate these and other complex issues relating to immigration, and we may be able to do the same for you.

According to the Chicago Tribune, many women like you are afraid to report acts of violence at the hands of their partners because they either fear deportation for their abusers, or for themselves. Often, the abuser is the father of a victim’s children, and this, too, can complicate matters and make women more afraid to speak out.

Supreme Court decision seeks to treat fathers and mothers equally

Many immigrant families first rely on the support of one parent working in the United States for their livelihood. Once that parent obtains citizenship, he or she can sponsor the rest of the family into the country. However, this idea can make for precarious immigration guidelines for children born of unmarried parents with mixed status.

A recent Supreme Court ruling will level the playing field for children born outside the U.S. who were previously treated differently based on the citizenship of their unwed father or mother. Before the ruling, unwed mothers who were naturalized citizens of the United States could pass on citizenship to their children after being in the U.S. for one year. Meanwhile, unwed fathers had to be citizens of the U.S. for 10 years to pass on the same rights to their children.

What is a U visa?

If you are an immigrant living in Illinois, a victim of a crime and looking to apply for what is known as a U visa, you may find that local law enforcement officials are reluctant to assist you. Per the Chicago Sun, U visas, which are visas for undocumented immigrants who are victims of crimes, are routinely denied to immigrants throughout Chicago and surrounding areas.

Originally created to encourage undocumented immigrants who may be otherwise afraid to come forward to notify law enforcement if they have information about crimes, U visas were given to 755 residents of Illinois within a recent 12-month period. Unlike other immigrations policies, among them the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, U visas offer immigrants a permanent path to citizenship.


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