Family Petitions, Sponsors, and Public Charge Rule Immigration laws allow U.S. Citizens and Legal Permanent Residents to petition legal status for their family members with foreign nationalities. There are two categories of family-based immigrant petitions, immediate relative petitions and family preference petitions. The category of each petition is based on the relationship between the petitioning and benefiting family members. Such relationships may include spouses, parents, minor unmarried children, minor married children, adult children, brothers, and/or sisters.

To qualify for a family petition, the petitioning and benefiting family member must (1) prove to have a bona fide relationship between each other, (2) prove that the petitioning family member will be able to support the benefiting family member financially, and (3) that they will not be a “public charge” for the government. On February 24, 2020, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security enforced the I-944 “Public Charge” rule, which is used to establish if someone is deemed inadmissible because they are likely to become a “public charge” for the government. Since then, multiple changes have been made to this rule due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It is important to contact an experienced immigration attorney, like Sandra Gomez, for more detailed and updated information, as this “Public Charge” rule could highly impact your case.


Student Visas and OPT Programs

International students seeking to enroll in a school in the U.S. may seek to acquire an F, M, or J visa. The most common type of student visa is the F-1 visa. Through this visa, international students are given an Optional Practical Training (OPT) after graduation. OPT allows students to remain in the U.S. legally and work in their field area after graduation for a period of 12 months. These 12 months can be extended for students who graduate from STEM field programs, which include science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. These extensions can be for 17 additional months.

After the expiration of their OPT an international student may acquire an employment visa through his/her employer. The employer must act as the student’s sponsor and will need to contact an immigration attorney directly for more information on employment visas. Some employment visas that may be considered are E-1, E-2, E-3, H-1B, H-2A, H-2B, L-1, O-1, or TN visas.

Other Available Visas

L-1 visas are for employees of international companies that have offices abroad and in the United States. This visa allows for employees to intra-company transfer to the United States and to bring their immediate family members with them. There are two categories of L-1 visas. L-1A visas, which are for executives and managers, and L-1B visas, which are for workers with specialized knowledge.

After their intra-company transfer to the U.S., employees may obtain a green card under the doctrine of dual intent. The doctrine of dual intent allows for foreigners with non-immigrant visas to remain in the U.S. legally while they seek to gain their lawful permanent resident status. Other visas, such as O visas or E visas, also allow the dual intent doctrine.

O visas are for people with “extraordinary” abilities in science, art, education, business, media, or sports. One of the requirements is that the person seeking an O visa must have been recognized nationally for internationally for those achievements. There are four types of O visas. O-1A, O-1B, O-2, and O-3’s. Each category is set for a specific “extraordinary” ability or for the applicant’s immediate family members.

E-1 and E-2 visas are for treaty traders and investors. E-1 visas specifically are for individuals seeking to carry out international trade in the United States. The dual intent doctrine does not apply to this type of visa, but applicants may bring their immediate family members to the U.S. under the same visa.

E-2 visas are for individuals with substantial investments and are only available for citizens of certain countries. The investment must be substantial enough to operate a business. This visa may also be used by a non-investor employee who plays a special role in the business. The dual intent doctrine does not apply to this type of visa.

EB-5 visas allow for foreign investors to come into the U.S. legally if they invest to finance a business in the U.S. that will employ American workers. As stated above, this visa may allow a foreigner to acquire their lawful permanent resident status while in the U.S.