Immigration Basics: What You Need to Know

The legal process of immigration is a complicated one. Many immigrants, both documented and undocumented, may not fully understand their rights. Not fully understanding immigration law as an immigrant could potentially jeopardize any chance of citizenship and remaining in the United States. Here are some basic facts every immigrant should know:

Deportation & the Process of Removal

According to the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 (IIRAIRA), if an individual has been unlawfully residing in the U.S. for over 180 days, they must live outside of the U.S. for no less than three years. For those unlawfully residing in the U.S. for more than 1 year, they will not be allowed to enter the country for a minimum of 10 years.

Reasons for Deportation:

  • Illegal entry into the U.S.
  • Overstay of visa
  • Violation of visa
  • Fraudulent activity
  • Criminal conduct

Individuals who fall into the above criteria for deportation will receive a "Notice to Appear" (NTA) from the U.S. government. An immigration judge will review your case to make a decision on deportation.

Facing a judge on your own can be overwhelming, especially if you are not well-versed in immigration law. It’s important for any individuals facing deportation to hire an experienced immigration attorney to assist with helping you obtain a waiver in order to remain in the United States.

Types of Visas

A person traveling to the U.S. from a foreign country is required to obtain a non-immigrant visa for a temporary stay or an immigrant visa for permanent residence. Your travel purposes will determine the type of visa you will need to enter the United States.

Types of Visas

  • Green card/permanent residence - Purpose: family-based immigration, employment-based immigration, and asylum or refugee
  • Status-Non-immigrant visas - Purpose: individuals who are not intending to permanently reside in the U.S. but only stay for a determined period of time.
  • Visitor Visas - B-1/B-2 Visas - Purpose: business, tourism, pleasure or visiting.

A visa allows you to travel to an entry point into the U.S. Your visa doesn't guarantee entry into the country, however, it does demonstrate to DHS/CBP (Department of Homeland Security/Customs and Border Protection) that you received eligibility from a U.S. Embassy or Consulate abroad. DHS/CBP inspectors are responsible for letting travelers into the U.S. for a specified time period.

Employment-Based Immigration

Employment-based immigration allows individuals to legally work and live in the U.S. However, there are specific criteria required in order to be eligible by law. The individual’s employer must complete and submit a labor certification request to the Department of Labor as well as file an immigrant visa petition to be reviewed and approved by the government.

  • Eligibility Requirements
    • Priority workers: those with extraordinary abilities in science, art, education, business, or athletics, outstanding professors and researchers, and multinational managers or executives
    • Professionals: those holding advanced degrees and persons of exceptional ability in science, art, or business.
    • Skilled and unskilled workers
    • Certain special immigrants
    • Immigrant investors

As per the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, employment-based immigration visas have a capped availability of approximately 140,000 for each fiscal year that can be granted.


The topic of asylum has been prominent in the news as of late. As the controversy continues it’s important now more than ever to have an immigration attorney on your side.

Any individuals who are facing persecution in their native countries have the right to seek asylum under international and federal law.

A refugee must have suffered or is facing the prospect of future suffering based on the following:

  • Race
  • Religion
  • Nationality
  • Political views
  • Membership of a specific group

It can’t be stressed enough that individuals seeking asylum should contact an immigration attorney as soon as possible. Having legal assistance is very important to be able to present a strong asylum application.


After the DREAM Act (Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors) failed to pass, President Obama enacted DACA to help young people who, by no fault of their own, were brought into the United States illegally.

You are eligible for DACA if you:

  • Are under the age of 31 as of June 15, 2012.
  • Came to the U.S. when you were under 16 years of age.
  • Have lived in the U.S. continuously since June 15, 2007, to present.
  • Are currently in school, have graduated from high school or have a GED.

You are not eligible for DACA if you:

  • Have been convicted of a felony offense
  • Have been convicted of a significant misdemeanor
  • Have been convicted of more than three misdemeanors of any kind
  • Pose a threat to public safety or national security
  • Have been dishonorably discharged from the Coast Guard or armed forces

It’s important to note that when you are renewing your DACA application, you must have continuously lived within the U.S since you last submitted your application. You will also be required to pass a background check.

The immigration system is a complex one. Whether you are seeking asylum or are facing deportation, having an experienced immigration attorney on your side can make all the difference in the outcome of your case.

Whatever your immigration concerns are Sebastian Simon Law Group, PLLC can help. Contact us at (713) 839-0639 for more information on how we can assist you with your immigration matter today.