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First Steps to Understanding U.S. Immigration Laws

If you’re considering spending time in or emigrating to the United States, or are helping someone who is, then you may be looking for some basic information about the immigration possibilities and how to succeed in obtaining a visa, green card, or other immigration benefit.

First, the good news: Huge numbers of people successfully come from other countries to the U.S. every year. Around one million of them receive green cards, and 30 million receive nonimmigrant, temporary visas (such as tourist, work, and student visas). With the right information and preparation you can be one of them.

Now, the not-so-good news. Immigration law is highly complex; worse than the U.S. tax code, some say. The Immigration and Nationality Act (I.N.A.) contains many categories of potential visas and green cards, detailed criteria for who qualifies, and paperwork-intensive application procedures.

So before you dive too deep into a particular area of inquiry, it’s worth getting an overview of how the system works. Start here for a helpful introduction to the possibilities and procedures.

Getting Started: Immigration Law Overview and Eligibility

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