Immigration reform has been a hot topic in recent months, with the Senate passing the 2013 bill that includes the DREAM Act, pathway to citizenship and border security — on which the House of Representatives is projected to vote soon. With immigration reform at the forefront of ongoing political debates, recent polls suggest that many Latino undocumented immigrants are already deeply rooted in the United States and hope to eventually gain citizenship.
The National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO) Educational Fund and America’s Voice Education Fund recently conducted a poll of undocumented Latino immigrants to analyze the strength of their family ties with U.S. citizens. These polls determined that 85 percent of undocumented immigrants have at least one close family member who is a U.S. citizen or legal resident. Another 10 percent have family members in the U.S. who may or may not be legal. In addition to strong family ties and according to polls, immigrants come to the U.S. for a better economic opportunity for themselves and their families.
Currently, immigrants can apply for two types of family-based immigrant visas in hope of obtaining legal residence in the United States:
- Immediate relative immigrant visas (Unlimited) Immigrants who have a close family relationship with a U.S. citizen who is an Immediate Relative (IR) may apply for this visa. Immediate relatives include spouses, unmarried children under age 21, adopted orphans and parents of citizens age 21 or older.
- Family preference immigrant visas (Limited) When immigrants do not have an immediate relative but still have family relationships with a U.S. citizen or, in some cases, with a Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR), they may apply for Family Preference visas. However, a limited number of these visas are granted. Unmarried sons and daughters of U.S. citizens and their minor children are given first preference.
If you or a family member wants to become a U.S. citizen or lawful resident, having an experienced immigration lawyer in Florida on your side can make the process of obtaining your green card more manageable.