US Immigration Guide
By Momal Iqbal
Los Angeles, CA
If you are reading this article, you probably have some interest in US immigration issues and understand their importance in your and your family’s lives. However, you may not be aware just how important US immigration is for the larger Pakistani community.
According to a 2011 report published by the Asian American Center for Advancing Justice, Pakistani Americans have doubled in size from 2000 to 2010. They are the second fastest growing and seventh largest Asian-American ethnic group in the United States. Approximately 65% are foreign-born.
What is currently the most common method of immigrating to the US? Roughly 81% of legal permanent residents (green card holders) born in Pakistan entered the country as the immediate relatives of US citizens or under family-sponsored preferences, while only 16% entered under employment-based preferences.
While the family-sponsored petitions have been a frequently used method of coming to the United States permanently, visa backlogs have sometimes made this process take several years to sometimes decades for some family members. There are other options available to those wanting to enter the US which have not been fully utilized by the Pakistani community. For example, there is an E-1/E-2 treaty trader/investor visa available to Pakistanis wishing to start businesses in the US. This visa is not available to all South Asians as India does not currently have a treaty with the United States; however, it could be a viable option for people from Pakistan and Bangladesh and could be utilized more often.
Besides, the immigration reform currently being debated in the US Congress could open up more doors to those wishing to come to the United States, particularly for employment and investment purposes. It could also provide more pathways to permanent residence for those who are already in the US, especially for those with educational backgrounds in science, technology, engineering and math.
There is no question that the number of Pakistanis coming to the United States is rapidly growing and once in the US they are shaping the communities in which they live.
In an effort to help our community navigate the complex and often frustrating US immigration processes, we hope you will find the coming articles to be helpful. We will examine different visa options available to enter the US, common pitfalls to avoid, pathways to green cards, changing immigration status once in the US, and proposed immigration reform. In order for us to provide you with pertinent topics and help answer specific questions, we encourage you to reach out and write Pakistan Link with your suggestions and questions.
See you next week.
(Momal Iqbal| Global Immigration Partners, Inc. | Attorney at law| MSI@gotcherlaw.com
Momal has been practicing immigration law since 2008. Prior to becoming a private immigration attorney, she served as an Assistant Chief Counsel for the US Department of Homeland Security, Immigration and Customs Enforcement.)