Different immigration cases require different supporting documents. The following pages describe in further detail what documents are needed for which types of immigration cases.

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Becoming a US citizen entails specific rights, duties and following benefits: consular protection outside the United States; ability to sponsor relatives living abroad; ability to invest in US. real property without triggering additional taxes; transmitting US citizenship to children; protection from deportation and others. U.S. law permits multiple citizenship. A citizen of another country naturalized as a U.S. citizen may retain his previous citizenship.

The process of becoming a U.S. citizen is called naturalization. In order to be eligible for naturalization, you must first meet certain requirements required by U.S. immigration law.

No matter where you were born, you may already be a United States citizen if at least one of your parents was a citizen at the time of your birth. You might also be a citizen through “derivation,” through a combination of your parent and grandparent. In these situations, you must meet additional requirements before receiving a certificate of citizenship.

You may replace a lost or damaged naturalization certificate simply by submitting an application and paying a fee. If the USCIS put incorrect information on your certificate, you may request a replacement certificate without having to pay any fees. Finally, you may submit a request to change your name or gender on a naturalization certificate due to marriage or divorce, or based on a state court order.


U.S. Citizens and lawful permanent residents have the ability to petition for certain members of their family. These petitions, when approved, enable family members to obtain lawful permanent residence. U.S. citizens can petition for spouses, children, adult sons and daughters, parents and brothers and sisters. Lawful permanent residents are able to petition for spouses, children, and unmarried adult son and daughters. With the exception of children and parents of U.S. Citizens, who are considered immediate relatives and are able to immediately obtain green cards upon approval of their petitions, all other categories must wait until there are green cards available in their family category.

The number of Green Cards issued in this manner is not limited since the U.S. government desires to keep families together. However, only certain family members are considered immediate relatives of a U.S. citizen: spouses, widows and widowers, parents and unmarried children who are under 21 years of age. These foreigners may apply for a Green Card while in the U.S. provided that they entered the country in a legal way.

As a battered spouse, child or parent of a green card holder, the Immigration and Nationality Act has created provisions under The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) that allows you to file a petition for yourself without notifying your abuser. These provisions apply equally to women and men.

U.S. citizens may petition on behalf of family members who don’t fall into the “immediate relative” category. Once the petition has been approved and a visa number made available, unmarried children of 21 years of age or older, married children of any age as well as siblings of a U.S. citizen (the U.S. sibling has to be at least 21) can apply for a Green Card through a U.S. Consulate in their native country.

A fairly limited number of Green Cards is issued to spouses and unmarried children of permanent residents. The U.S. relative has to file a visa petition for you and any of your unmarried children. As soon as this visa is available, you have the right to apply for a Green Card at your local U.S. Consulate. There is also a reasonably short waiting period associated with this type of immigration benefit.

In order for a foreign national and their future U.S. citizen spouse to avoid a long physical separation, a K-1 visa is issued to a non-U.S. fiancé(e). This enables the couple to get married in a timely manner and subsequently file a Green card petition with the USCIS. Minor children (under the age of 18) of a non-U.S. fiancé(e) are issued a K-2 visa.

If your permanent residence status was granted because of a marriage that was less than 2 years old at the time, it is conditional. You must remove these conditions to become a lawful permanent resident.


When people with certain knowledge and skills are needed to join the workforce in the United States, the U.S. will allow certain foreigners to come to the U.S. temporarily or permanently. Temporary (non-immigrant) visas are available for individuals coming the U.S. for the following reasons: temporary business visit or company transfer to the U.S., professionals in specialty occupations or under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), treaty trader or investor, or individuals with extraordinary abilities or achievements. Individuals coming to the U.S. permanently may apply for lawful permanent residency (green card) for different reasons which depend on the needs of the job market.

You may receive permanent resident status if you have an offer for a permanent job in the United States. To do so, your employer usually must get an approved labor certification application, also known as PERM. To receive PERM, the employer must prove that there are no available U.S. workers who are willing and able to do the job. The employer must also be able to honestly say that your hiring will not hurt working conditions or wages for U.S. workers doing similar work. After being approved for and receiving PERM, the employer must submit an I-140 form. After it is submitted, you must adjust your immigrant status either from within the U.S. or by applying for an immigrant visa at a U.S. consulate or embassy in your country.

You may apply for a Green Card if you are an expert at the very top of your field and your accomplishments have been seen by many people over a long period of time. You may do so without a sponsor, but must show that you have been recognized as an expert either nationally or internationally.

If you work for an actual company that operates in multiple countries, you may qualify to enter the United States if:

  • You were employed by that company as a manager or executive outside of the U.S. for at least one whole year out of the three years before being transferred to the U.S.;
  • You are seeking to enter the U.S. to work for that same company as a manger or executive;
  • The U.S. employer has been doing business for at least one year.

Investment immigrant visas are given each year to approximately 10,000 people who plan to do business that will help the United States and create at least ten full-time jobs. These jobs must be for either (1) U.S. citizens, (2) lawful permanent residents, or (3) noncitizens who are allowed to work, other than the applicant or their immediate family. The investment amount needed is $1 million, but that number may be reduced if the investment is made in rural parts of the country, or areas where jobs are needed. Within two years of obtaining a Green Card, the applicant must prove that they have actually made most or all of the investment and that at least ten full-time jobs have been created in a business that operates for two years or more.


Foreign nationals wishing to enter the United States must typically obtain a visa. Visas are divided into two general categories: 1) immigrant visas, which are issued to aliens wanting to become permanent U.S. residents, and 2) nonimmigrant visas, which give permission for a limited stay for a specific purpose.

If you were allowed into the United States with a nonimmigrant visa, typically you can apply to change your nonimmigrant status if you meet certain requirements.

Each year, thousands of foreign workers from many different professional disciplines obtain an H-1B visa and are welcomed into the United States to work.

There are two types of nonimmigrant visas that are available to individuals wanting to study in the United States.

The L-1 visa is a temporary non-immigrant visa that allows companies to transfer foreign qualified employees to a United States subsidiary or parent company.

A P visa is a temporary employment visa available to alien artists, entertainers, and athletes, as well as their children and spouses.

Athletes, business professionals, educators, scientists, and artists of all types may qualify for an O visa if they have been nationally or internationally recognized in their respective fields.


There are several immigration documents that are needed on a case by case basis. The following pages explain those documents in more detail.

Sometimes it is necessary to have someone help you sponsor your family member. This joint sponsor must meet the same requirements as you, but they do not have to be related to the person being sponsored.

The majority of family-based immigrants will need an affidavit of support signed by a family member stating that they will not be a financial burden on the U.S. government.

Sometimes it is necessary to have someone help you sponsor your family member. This joint sponsor must meet the same requirements as you, but they do not have to be related to the person being sponsored.

A re-entry permit issued by the USCIS, grants permission for U.S. permanent residents and conditional permanent residents to re-enter the United States following extended stays abroad.

Advance Parole is a re-entry permit necessary to return to the United States after traveling abroad while your Marriage Based Green Card or Adjustment of Status is pending.

For various reasons, the need may arise to replace or renew your green card. You should apply to replace your Permanent Resident Card if your card has been lost, stolen, damaged, or if any of the information on your card needs to be changed. Failing to do so may affect your benefits.

The Freedom of Information Act can help foreign nationals in their immigration process by allowing them access to the information that certain government agencies have collected on their file.


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