We are located in downtown Chicago and are licensed by the state of Illinois. Like most law firms, the large majority of our work is done for local clients. But we have represented distant clients without any problems. In many cases it is perfectly acceptable to select an immigration attorney who does not live in your local area, and in some it may be preferable. Here's why:
- Unlike most types of law in the United States, immigration law falls entirely under federal (U.S. national) jurisdiction. The federal government accepts attorneys that have been licensed by any of the states. This means that an immigration attorney only needs to be licensed in one state in order to represent clients anywhere in the nation and even the world.
- Most interactions with the INS and Department of State take place through the mail and the telephone. In fact, the INS typically requires that most routine matters be handled through the mail, and will refuse to talk to you in person.
- Attorney and client interactions can be handled quite well through the phone, fax, email and overnight mail.
- Full service immigration firms and are quite used to handling cases remotely as they typically have many foreign clients and beneficiaries.
So normally, if a particular law firm meets your other requirements, location should not be a big factor. The exceptions arise in cases that require an interview at an INS office. The INS will allow your lawyer to represent you through a phone conference, but in a difficult case it may be preferable to have your attorney be physically present. If this applies to you, you'll want to focus on firms that are located within travelling distance of your interview location.
U.S. citizens can petition for parents, spouses, siblings, and children. Permanent Residents (LPR) can petition for spouses and children only. There is no quota or limit and, therefore, no waiting list for "Immediate Relatives" of U.S. Citizens - Unmarried children under 21, Spouse, Parent, Widow / Widower (under certain circumstances). Relatives in the following "preference" categories are subject to limits on the number of visas that can be issued each year. The lower the preference (Fourth is lowest), the longer the wait.
- First Preference - Unmarried sons or daughters (over age 21) of U.S. citizens.
- Second Preference - (2A) Spouses and unmarried children (under age 21) of LPRs; (2B) Unmarried sons and daughters (over age 21) of LPRs.
- Third Preference - Married sons and daughters of U.S. citizens.
- Fourth Preference - Brothers and sisters of U.S. citizens.
Yes, your resume can land you a green card, but it won't be easy. Here are the classes.
- EB-1 priority workers: aliens with extraordinary ability, outstanding professors and researchers, and certain multinational executives and managers.
- EB-2 workers with advanced degrees or exceptional ability: aliens who are members of the professions holding advanced degrees or their equivalent and aliens who because of their exceptional ability in the sciences, arts, or business will substantially benefit the national economy, cultural, or educational interests or welfare of the United States.
- EB-3 professionals, skilled workers, and other workers: aliens with at least two years of experience as skilled workers, professionals with a baccalaureate degree, and others with less than two years experience, such as an unskilled worker who can perform labor for which qualified workers are not available in the United States. This category usually requires a job offer and a long wait.
- EB-4 special workers such as those in a religious occupation or vocation: aliens who, for at least two years before applying for admission to the United States, have been a member of a religious denomination that has a non-profit religious organization in the United States, and who will be working in a religious vocation or occupation at the request of the religious organization.
- EB-5 employment creation: for alien investors in new commercial enterprises who will create employment for at least ten individuals. There are two investor groups under the program - people who invest at least $500,000 in "targeted employment areas" (rural areas or areas experiencing high unemployment of at least 150% of the national average rate) and those who invest $1,000,000 elsewhere.