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7 Common Misconceptions Revolving Immigration

Bridge Team Member

We often overhear misconceptions or misunderstandings regarding immigration to the United States. People often rely too heavily on information from their friends and relatives that are based from rumors, which do not reflect the latest immigration laws. To help you recognize these inaccuracies, we selected a few of the most frequently heard misconceptions. In doing so, you will reduce the chance of making a mistake that could delay or even endanger your entitlement to achieving your dream.

1.Permanent Residency vs. Citizenship

Contrary to popular belief, permanent residency and citizenship are not the same thing.

Permanent Residency

Permanent residency refers to a person's visa status, allowing him or her to reside in the U.S permanently. However, he or she does not have the benefits of being a citizen, such as voting. A permanent resident receives a social security number and is able to work and travel inside and outside of the United States; thus, this person is usually required to live the majority of his or her time in the U.S.

Citizenship

Citizenship allows a person to not only live in the U.S, but also work and become involved in the political realm, such as voting. However, U.S citizens do not have to reside in the U.S permanently or even at all.

In the end, permanent residency can lead to citizenship.

2. Status vs. Visa

It is very common to confuse "status" with "visa." A "visa" is an entry placed in the person's passport, which gives the individual consideration for admittance to the U.S. However, possession of a valid visa does not guarantee permission to enter the country. Also, a visa does not determine how long a person may stay in the United States.åÊ The determination of admissibility is left to the discretion of the examining immigration officer at the port of entry, who will stamp and annotate the I-94 white card with a visa class and an expiration date.

An individual acquires ‰ÛÏstatus‰Û when he or she is legally admitted to the U.S; it refers to the condition of legal presence within the country. Similar to visas, there are many categories of status, which are defined by non-immigrant classification designations. The classification of visa used for entry into the country will determine this designation, and thus, the person's status. The I-94, which is received at the time of entry, will indicate the designated status as well as the expiration date of that status.

So, status only exists in the U.S. and visas are obtained outside of the U.S. only for entry purposes.

3. It is O.K. to remarry without divorcing your first spouse. -- FALSE!

Marrying a second time without terminating your first marriage is illegal. Many people believe that they can meet someone new and decide to get married if they have not interacted with their first spouse in a long time. However, by law in the U.S, the second marriage would be void if this were to happen. Divorce is legal in the U.S, so make sure you divorce your first spouse before you marry someone else.

4. Knowing someone in the US Embassy or the INS can help put your petition ahead. -- FALSE!

All Visa applications are processed in the order they were originally filled with INS. Because priority dates are released every month showing the filing dates or Labor certifications that would currently be processed, you cannot go out of turn. You must wait for your place in line for a visa to be "current."

5. A visitor's visa allows you to work in the U.S legally. -- FALSE!

A visitor visa allows someone to visit the U.S for a limited period of time for business purposes or vacation. They do not, however, authorize employment in the U.S. In order to work in the U.S, you must obtain a working visa called an H-1B visa.

6. The only way to get a green card is through a family petition. -- FALSE!

Employers can also petition people for green cards through the process called Labor Certification. Also, the spouse and minor children of the sponsored employee can get green cards at the same time. Thus, it's a green card for the entire family!

7. A person's age and martial status is evaluated by the U.S Embassy and USCIS only at the time the petition is filled and not at the time the person is being interviewed for their visa -- FALSE!

Though the person's status at the time of their visa interview is strongly taken into consideration by the USCIS and Embassy:

(a) If a person was single at the time the petition was filed, but got married before the interview, that person is considered married and will be processed as married.

If they were petitioned by an immigrant parent, the petition becomes void upon the marriage, because only US citizens can petition married children.

If the petitioner was alive at the time the petition was filed, but died before the interview, the petition may no longer be valid, because the petition dies with the petitioner. (Some exceptions to this rule may apply, however, such as humanitarian revalidation).

I hope we were able to shed some light on the myths and truth that tend to travel down the grapevine. Though these issues can get a little messy, it is important to have an insight as to how the system works. I hope this helped!

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