Immigration Law in Pennsylvania
Does your immigration status worry you? Do you find the current immigration laws confusing? A Pennsylvania 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.
The Center for Immigration Studies lists 16 sanctuary counties in Pennsylvania, as well as the city of Philadelphia. The policies of these jurisdictions vary, but most either prohibit or discourage local authorities from assisting in federal immigration enforcement. A ban on sanctuary policies was proposed to the Pennsylvania Legislature in 2018, but it was not passed into law.
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 Pennsylvania 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.
In the Pennsylvania counties that do not have sanctuary policies, enforcement of immigration laws varies. The Pennsylvania Capital Star reports that 19 Pennsylvania counties actively collaborate with ICE to deport undocumented immigrants. But, Pennsylvania does not require employers to verify immigration status for most industries. However, the Pennsylvania Legislature passed a law in 2019 requiring construction companies to verify the status of their employees.
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 Pennsylvania 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 Pennsylvania Refugee Resettlement Program, a division of the Department of Human Services, coordinates assistance for refugees. The Program provides health, financial, employment, and educational support for refugees in Pennsylvania. Most of the work is contracted through various non-profit and religious organizations across the state.
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 Pennsylvania Immigration Lawyers
Pennsylvania 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, Pennsylvania immigration lawyers deal with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services department.
Organizations such as the Pennsylvania Immigration Resource Center and the Christian Immigration Advocacy Center provide immigration services in Pennsylvania. These organizations can help with filling out forms and filing applications, as well as provide some pro bono legal assistance. In addition, nonprofits such as the Pennsylvania Immigration and Citizenship Coalition work toward legal reform and protecting immigrant rights.
When Should I Consider Hiring A Pennsylvania Immigration Attorney?
Hiring an immigration lawyer in Pennsylvania 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 Pennsylvania attorney to help you navigate this complicated legal system. We can even help you connect with an attorney across Pennsylvania 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!