Immigration Government

Written by Patricia Tunstall
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Immigration government agencies have a division of labor when it comes to various kinds of visas, petitions, and applications for temporary or permanent stays in the United States. In general, the Department of State (DOS) administers temporary visitation by tourists and business people. This makes sense, as future visitors are outside the U.S. when they apply for entry into this country, and DOS has embassies and consulates all over the world.

The Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services (BCIS) manages permanent residency and attendant issues for those who are still in their homeland, or for those who have already immigrated and have decided to make their stay permanent. The two main categories of immigrants are quota and non-quota. Non-quota immigrants include the spouse, unmarried children under 21, and parents of U.S. citizens--in other words, immediate relatives. This category is called non-quota because immigration government has placed no legal limit on the number of people who could fall into this group.

Immigration Government Preferences

On the other hand, the classification of quota immigrants is more complex. First, there is a limit on the number of these people who are allowed to take up permanent residence in this country. Second, in order to determine how many should be admitted, these immigrants are divided into family-based and employment-based preferences by immigration government.

First preference in family-based immigration is the unmarried sons and daughters, over 21, of U.S. citizens. Second preference has two categories: spouses and unmarried children ("children" signifies dependents under 21) of permanent residents, and adult, unmarried sons and daughters of permanent residents. For the employment-based category, the first preference includes three groups: aliens with extraordinary ability, outstanding professors and researchers, and certain executives and managers. Both family-based and employment-based preferences have several other categories. Interested persons can check the BCIS website for more details.


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