3 Common Immigrant Law Terms To Know

Posted on: 11 August 2021


Many people want to move to America, but the process can be long and complicated, especially if you don't even understand the terminology being thrown at you. If you would like to know more to better protect yourself, check out these three common immigrant law terms you need to know.  

1. Sponsor

To migrate to America, you need a sponsor, and the sponsor must be a US citizen or a permanent resident. The sponsor will sign an Affidavit of Support, which basically says they will financially support you until you can financially support yourself. Typically, this means they sponsor you until you are a US citizen or until you have 40 quarters of work. This ensures that people coming to America won't be relying on welfare and that they won't struggle to survive.

The government prefers sponsors to help bring some family members over sooner than others. For example, the first preference goes to unmarried adult children of US citizens. Married adult children and minor children have less preference.

If you do obtain public benefits while in the US, your sponsor is also responsible for repaying that money. If there is a joint sponsor, they are also responsible for the money. In fact, if the government comes after you to repay the amount, you can actually sue the sponsor.

2. Voluntary Departure

Voluntary departure means that you willingly left the US. However, this is only possible for people who have followed laws, can show they have enough money to leave, etc. If you do not qualify for voluntary departure, you will likely be deported by the government.

Getting forcibly deported has many disadvantages. First, you may have no time to prepare for your departure: packing, saying goodbye, etc., which can be incredibly traumatic and depressing. However, most importantly, if you get deported, you are barred from re-entering for a certain period of time.

There is a small risk, however, that even if you voluntarily depart, you may not be allowed to reenter the US for a specific time. This typically only happens to people who are considered unlawfully present in the US. Similarly, if you qualified for a green card but didn't request it and voluntarily depart, you may also be barred from entering for some time.

3. Lawful Permanent Resident

Once you've jumped through all the hoops, you'll be granted a "green card." This means you are now a lawful permanent resident. This gives you many new rights and privileges, but it doesn't make you a US citizen. As long as you have a green card, you can live and work in the US indefinitely.

However, since you aren't a citizen, you can't vote, and if you leave the country, upon returning, you will have to follow the same rules you followed upon getting your green card. If something changed while you were gone, such as your health or criminal activity, you may be barred from re-entering. If you leave for too long, however, the US may assume you no longer want permanent resident status and revoke it.

As a permanent resident, you will need to follow all US laws and file your taxes. If you do break the law, you may be deported. As long as you follow all rules and guidelines, n a few years, you will be able to apply for US citizenship.

If you want to become a US citizen or permanent resident, you have a long journey ahead of you. However, one way to make that journey smoother is to hire a family immigration attorney. For more information, contact an attorney in your area today.