The immigration process to the US differs depending on your current place of stay. If you are outside the US, you have to go through consular processing at the embassy in your country. If you are already in the US and eligible to apply for a green card (through sponsorship by an employer or family member or based on holding asylee or refugee status), you can file an Application to Adjust Status to Permanent Resident through Form I 485.
If you are in the US and have an approved immigrant petition, you will be eligible to file an application to adjust status to a permanent resident (green card holder) of the US. In a layman’s words, adjustment of status is the process by which a foreign national applies for a green card while being in the US. It is important that you have a “current” priority date in order to qualify, unless you are applying in a category for which visa numbers are always available. Priority date is the date you filed the immigrant petition. If you are applying based on being married to a US citizen spouse, the parent or child may qualify to file the application to adjust status to a permanent resident at the same time your immigrant petition is submitted.
Are you an individual who held asylee or refugee status for one year or more? If so, you may also be eligible to file to adjust status to a permanent resident. However, if you are outside the US, you cannot file to adjust status. Under such circumstances, you can apply for an immigrant visa at a US consulate in your country. Cuban nationals requesting a change in the date their permanent residence began in the US may also file Form I 485.
Form I 485 Process
You really need to know the ropes when it comes to filing immigration petitions/applications as it might be sophisticated at times. You have to file Form I 485 with the needed supporting documents and fees with the local USCIS office. If you are 79 years of age or older or under 14 years, you will not be charged a biometric fee. If you are filing this form based on being admitted to the US as a refugee, then you need not pay any fee.
Once you have submitted your application with the required supporting documents and fee, the USCIS will start the processing. After processing, if your application is approved, you have to make an appointment to get your passport stamped through INFOPASS. You can use this stamp as temporary proof that you are a permanent resident until your physical card (the green card) arrives. You can use this to travel outside of the US.
If your application is rejected, USCIS will send you a letter that will have the details as to why the application was denied. If you are not in a legal status in the US, the process to remove you from the country will begin as soon as your application is denied.
In such a case, you can have an immigration judge review the denial of your Form I 485 during removal proceedings. During this review, immigration officials have to prove that the information on your application was untruthful and that your application was rightly denied. Even after this, if the judge decides to remove you from the country, you can still appeal this decision. You can appeal within 33 days after the immigration judge passed the judgment. The appeal will then be referred to the Board of Immigration Appeals once your appeal form and the required fees are processed.
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is the federal agency that manages lawful immigration to the US. The USCIS is a component of the Department of Homeland Security.
On March 1, 2003, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) officially took over the responsibility for all immigration functions of the federal government. The Homeland Security Act of 2002 disassembled the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) and separated the former agency into three groups within the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).
The USCIS (formerly the INS ) was formed to enhance the security measures and improve the efficiency of national immigration services. The other two components of the DHS, the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Customs and Border Protection (CBP) take care of immigration enforcement and border security functions.
Some of the Services that the USCIS (formerly the INS) Provides
Citizenship (Includes the Related Naturalization Process):
Eligible individuals who want to become US citizens through naturalization have to submit their N-400 applications to USCIS. The USCIS will determine eligibility of the applicant, process the application and, if approved, will schedule the applicant for a ceremony to take the Oath of Allegiance. The USCIS also determines the eligibility and provides documentation of US citizenship for individuals who acquired or derived US citizenship through their parents’ status as US citizens.
Immigration of Family Members:
The USCIS also manages the process that will allow permanent residents and US citizens to bring their close relatives to live and work in the US.
Working in the U.S:
Individuals from other countries can come and work in the US. Some of the job opportunities are temporary, and some also get a green card (permanent residence). The USCIS manages this process too.
Verifying an Individual’s Legal Right to Work in the US:
USCIS takes care of the system that will allow employers to electronically verify the employment eligibility of their newly hired employees.
USCIS also administers humanitarian programs that offers protection to individuals inside and outside the US who are displaced by war, famine and civil and political unrest, and also to those who are forced to flee their countries to escape the risk of death and torture at the hands of persecutors.
The first step in the process for US citizens adopting children from other countries are handled by the USCIS. Every year, approximately 20,000 adoptions take place.
The USCIS promotes instruction and training on citizenship rights and responsibilities. They provide immigrants with the information and tools that are necessary to successfully integrate into American civic culture.
The mission of USCIS is to administer the nation’s immigration system fairly, honestly and correctly. At this time of increased global threats and national security challenges, the main obligation is to provide immigration service in a manner that strengthens and fortifies the nation. While performing the mission, they adopt a holistic approach to Vigilance. They take utmost care in carefully administering every aspect of their immigration mission so that new immigrants and citizens can hold in high regard the privileges and advantages of lawful presence in the US.
The goal of USCIS is to secure America’s promise as a nation of immigrants by providing accurate and useful information to all their customers, granting immigration and other benefits, promoting an awareness and understanding of American citizenship, and ensuring the integrity of the US immigration system. They employ 18,000 persons and their contractors work at 250 offices across the world.
The United States allowed more legal immigrants from 1991 to 2000, between ten and eleven million, than in any previous decade. By comparison, the highest previous decade was the 1900s, when 8.8 million people arrived, increasing the total US population by one percent every year. Specifically, nearly 15% of Americans were foreign-born in 1910, while in 1999, only about 10% were foreign-born.
Immigrants accounted for 4.7 percent of the US population in 1970 and it rose to 6.2 percent in 1980, As of 2010, a quarter of the residents of the United States under 18 are immigrants or are children of immigrants. According to a recent study by the Pew Hispanic Center, in 2008, eight percent of all babies born in the US belonged to illegal immigrant parents.
250,000 in the 1930s
2.5 million in the 1950s
4.5 million in the 1970s
7.3 million in the 1980s
10 million in the 1990s
Since 2000, legal immigrants to the US number approximately 1,000,000 per year, of whom about 600,000 who already are in the US change their status. Legal immigrants to the US now are at their highest level ever, at just over 37,000,000. Illegal immigration may account to 1,500,000 per year with at least 700,000 illegal immigrants arriving every year. From 1990 to 2000, immigration led to a 57.4% increase in foreign born population.
Immigration Estimates for the Future
The Census Bureau further estimates the US population will grow from 281 million in 2000 to 397 million in 2050 with immigration, but only to 328 million with no immigration. Additionally, a new report from the Pew Research Center projects that by 2050, 47% of the population will consist of non-Hispanic whites, down from the 2005 figure of 67%. In 1960, there were 85% non-Hispanic whites. The report also foresees the Hispanic population rising from 14% in 2005 to 29% by 2050. Whereas the Asian population is expected to more than triple by 2050. Overall, the population of the US is due to rise from 296 million in 2005 to 438 million in 2050, with 82% of the increase because of immigrants.
In 35 of Americas 50 largest cities, non-Hispanic whites were at the last census or are predicted to be in the minority. In California alone, non-Hispanic whites who were 80% of the state’s population in 1970 came down to 42.3% in 2008.
Immigrants mostly settle in seven states, California, New York, Florida, Texas, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Illinois, that comprises about 44% of the US population on the whole. The combined total population of immigrants in these seven states is 70% of the total foreign-born population as of 2000. If the present birth rate and immigration rate is to remain the same for another 70 to 80 years, the US population would double to a staggering 600 million approximately. The Census Bureau’s estimates predict that there will be one billion Americans in 2100, compared to one million people in 1700 and 5.2 million in 1800.