Immigration Law in Massachusetts
Does your immigration status worry you? Do you find the current immigration laws confusing? A Massachusetts immigration lawyer can help correctly file all your paperwork. An immigration attorney can also defend you if you face deportation orders.
What Is Immigration Law?
Immigration law deals with federal regulations dictating who can live and work in the United States of America. It also involves the naturalization process for permanent residents who wish to become United States citizens. For those who enter or remain in the country illegally or those who lose their status, U.S immigration law mandates their prosecution, detention, and possible deportation.
According to the Center for Immigration Studies, there are eight sanctuary cities in Massachusetts, including Boston, Amherst, and Cambridge. According to the Boston Herald, Boston approved amendments to the city’s Trust Act, further limiting the role police can play in civil immigration matters. Additionally, the Safe Communities Act was refiled with the Massachusetts State Legislature in February 2021. If passed, this Act would make Massachusetts a sanctuary state. Specifically, it would end state and local law enforcement involvement in deportations. It would also end collaboration agreements that deputize local officers as ICE agents at state taxpayers’ expense.
Which Government Agencies Enforce Immigration Law?
There are multiple federal government agencies that oversee immigration law in the United States. Here are the three major federal agencies:
- Immigration and Customs Enforcement: ICE investigates people who violate immigration laws and carries out enforcement.
- US Citizenship and Immigration Services: USCIS handles applications to become United States workers, residents, or citizens.
- Customs and Border Protection: CBP is tasked with maintaining and strengthening the country’s borders.
How Does Immigration Into the U.S. and Massachusetts Work?
In order to legally immigrate into the United States, one must submit several different applications to the federal government. Immigration regulations can change constantly. We recommend hiring an immigration lawyer to help with the process. Note if immigration is the main practice area of a law firm.
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, Massachusetts funded outreach grant programs for immigrant communities for the 2020 Census. As well, the recent elimination of the federal Public Charge rule will likely impact immigrants living in Massachusetts. This provision evaluated a person’s likelihood to become primarily dependent on government assistance. Overall, this provision made it more difficult to enter the country or obtain permanent residence. An experienced Massachusetts immigration attorney can help you understand the most current rules and how they may apply to your case.
Types Of Immigration
This is the most common type of immigration. It involves an eligible family member filing a petition on behalf of the individual seeking naturalization. U.S citizens can file a petition on behalf of anyone considered an immediate relative. However, permanent residents and other migrants may face additional restrictions.
Those seeking immigration who aren’t immediately related to the person filing a petition on their behalf are subject to further review. This puts your immigration application into a pool with applied preferences. Preferential treatment goes to those who are under 21 and unmarried. On the other hand, less preference is given to older relatives of those filing a petition. It can take years for these kinds of applicants to obtain a visa.
This is a temporary visa given to those seeking work or business opportunities in America. Employment-based immigration is a broad category with many different categories. Some of these include (but are not limited to):
- Visas for athletes or entertainers
- Diplomatic employees visas
- Visas for religious workers
- Visas for employees in specific industries, such as healthcare and agriculture
In these cases, a specific employer typically sponsors the immigrant. Once the temporary window closes, the company can choose to make the immigrant’s status permanent. Some Massachusetts business owners and investors can also sponsor themselves via their companies.
Refugees And Asylum Seekers
There are special conditions where immigrants may legally enter and remain in the United States. These situations can involve people fleeing persecution or who cannot return to where they came from due to unsafe conditions. The President, in coordination with Congress, dictates how many people can be granted refugee status.
People who fear persecution upon returning to their country may seek asylum from the United States. There is currently no mandated limit on how many people can be granted asylum or how long their period of asylum lasts in Immigration Law.
The Massachusetts government offers services for immigrants and refugees through the Office for Refugees and Immigrants. Programs include Financial Literacy for Newcomers and Citizenship for New Americans (CNAP). CNAP assists legal permanent residents of Massachusetts to become US citizens. In addition, the Refugee and Immigrant Assistance Center (RIAC) is a non-profit human service agency that provides comprehensive services to refugees, asylees, and immigrants. RIAC services include refugee resettlement, counseling, and education.
The Difference Between a Visa and a Green Card
A visa allows you to enter the U.S and remain for a certain period of time. However, a green card allows you to enter and stay for as long as you want. Permanent residents are people who hold green cards.
Non-immigrant visas are types of visas for people who are planning on leaving once their term has elapsed. These types of visas do not lead to permanent residency unless the person has another qualifying reason. For example, this includes tourist visas, student visas, and work visas.
Immigrant visas offer the opportunity for permanent residency in the United States. If you have an immigrant visa, you might become eligible for a green card. However, these visas are harder to obtain and require someone to vouch for you via petition by a qualifying U.S. person.
The Role of Massachusetts Immigration Lawyers
Massachusetts immigration lawyers serve as advisors that guide applicants throughout the application process. Matters that typically invoke the service of an immigration lawyer are extensive. These are deportation issues, green cards, citizenship, naturalization, employment, and visa or green card applications.
You will not typically find immigration lawyers in court dealing with cases. Instead, they serve as mediators between their clients and the U.S immigration services. Specifically, Massachusetts immigration lawyers deal with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services department.
The ACLU Massachusetts is one of a number of advocacy groups in Massachusetts actively working on immigration reform at the state and federal level. The Massachusetts Immigrant & Refugee Advocacy Coalition (MIRA) is the largest organization in New England promoting the rights of immigrants and refugees. MIRA’s state legislative priorities currently include the Work and Family Mobility Act. This Act would extend eligibility for Massachusetts driver’s licenses to all qualified residents, regardless of immigration status. MIRA also acts as a hub for resources and services available to immigrants.
When Should I Consider Hiring A Massachusetts Immigration Attorney?
Hiring an immigration lawyer in Massachusetts is not always necessary. But even so, there are some instances where hiring an immigration attorney becomes almost mandatory:
- The applicant convicted a crime.
- Prior applications have been denied.
- The applicant has previously been deported or barred entry from the United States.
- The waiting period for an application has taken unreasonably long.
- The applicant is seeking an employment visa but the employer refuses to help facilitate the process.
- The applicant’s previous status was based on marriage but that marriage resulted in divorce. You need to prove there was no fraudulent activity.
- The child of an applicant is close to reaching the age of 21 prior to the granted application. There are different provisions for people under the age of 21.
- The applicant is confused with the application process. The applicant is unable to complete the paperwork on their own.
Do you suffer from any of the problems above or have other immigration problems to resolve? If so, we can help connect you with the right Massachusetts attorney to help you navigate this complicated legal system. We can even help you connect with an attorney across Massachusetts state lines.
Submit a request online or call us today at (866) 345-6784 to get in touch with an experienced lawyer in your area!