Visa: The Path to Citizenship
by Annette Godwin
Individuals who wish to become permanent residents of the United States must first seek to obtain a visa. There are different types of visas. The major ones are employment, family, humanitarian, and diversity visas.
According to Immigration lawyer and Cabrini University’s Director of the Center on Immigration Abel Rodriguez, J.D., “Step one is being eligible for the visa. Often that’s one of the misconceptions. Why don’t people just go down to the immigration office and fill out the paperwork? That’s not simply how it works. Most people who want to migrate to the United States don’t qualify for visas. It is very limited in term of who qualifies and can enter on these different types of visas. For family visas, which is the biggest category, you have to be a qualified relative.” A qualified relative is one who is a spouse, child; unmarried and under the age of 21, or parents of a U.S citizen or a lawful permanent resident.
“There are quotas in many categories for many different family members that leads to a backlog then wait time. At this point, you have some categories of people who are in a line or a backlog of 23 years before they can come to the United States and reunite with their family members,” Rodriguez said.
“Almost 800,00 migrants apply each year to obtain a family visa. With backlogs that can stretch 20 years or more, family members often feel forced to migrate illegally rather than tolerate this extended separation,” Rodriguez said.
Immigration lawyers help people apply for immigrant visas or green cards or even job opportunities. They seek to educate the public immigration and help as many people as possible to navigate the processes.
Immigration attorney Oscar J. Barbosa at Diaspora Law helps U.S citizens who want to bring their family members to the U.S “The best thing is to give them a quick turn around on appointment times and very clear instructions on what to do to start the application process,” Barbosa said.
“Our biggest accomplishment is to help people to become citizens. Once a citizen, they are able to vote and to maintain more solid jobs. They can also contribute and know the social security funds are going to be there,” Barbosa said.