Legal immigration refers to instances where a non-citizen alien is in the country legally under permanent resident status (i.e. green card holder). Permanent resident status may be granted to certain classes of aliens and is considered a main step towards permanent U.S. citizenship. Most green card holders start off with a more temporary visa, then have their residency status changed after being in the country for some time.

How Can a Person Become a Legal Immigrant?

Permanent resident status may be granted in a number of ways. There are several avenues for obtaining lawful permanent resident status (LPR status), including:

There are various requirements that must be met when applying for these types of visas and immigration avenues. The person must also maintain other requirements over time, such as good conduct and ongoing employment with the sponsoring company (for employment visas).

What Are the Penalties for Illegal Immigration?

Illegal immigration is a serious offense and can result in various consequences. These include:

  • Removal (deportation) from the U.S.
  • Loss of residency status
  • Possible ban on re-entry in the future
  • Criminal consequences for persons assisting in the illegal immigration (i.e. employers, family members, etc.)

Regarding bans on re-entry, these can either be temporary or permanent. For instance, for a first-time illegal immigration charge, the person might be banned from re-entering the country for a number of years (such as five years). For repeat offenses, or removal that involves serious criminal activity, the person may be permanently banned from entering the country.

Do I Need a Lawyer for Help with Legal Immigration Issues?

Legal immigration is necessary for a non-citizen who wishes to maintain a good residency status evaluation. You may wish to hire a immigration lawyer if you need help with any immigration issues. Your attorney can provide advice on how to maintain and keep permanent residency status. Also, if you’re facing any immigration hearings, your immigration lawyer can provide you with representation during the process.