About U.S. Immigration Law

What are immigration laws?

Our immigration laws say:

  • Who has legal immigration status in the U.S.
  • Who is allowed to live and work here, and
  • Who can become a U.S. citizen.

What do immigration laws do?

Immigration laws have many goals. Some are to:

  • Keep families together
  • Bring skilled workers to the U.S.
  • Protect people from danger

Some laws allow people to stay for a limited time. Other laws allow people to qualify for permanent legal status. The U.S. government may change the laws at any time.

How can I immigrate legally?

Immigration laws are complicated, and the rules are hard to understand. Your personal history and experiences will affect your chances of getting legal status. Our immigrant stories explain how other immigrants may qualify for legal status.

Many people apply to stay in the U.S. if they:

  • Have family members who are U.S. citizens or permanent residents;
  • Have special job skills and an employer who can "sponsor" them;
  • Come from a country that is at war or suffering from a natural disaster;
  • Are children whose parents cannot take good care of them;
  • Were harmed or threatened in their country for political, religious, social or other reasons;
  • Are the victim of a crime and are helping the police;
  • Were abused by a spouse or parent who is a U.S. citizen or legal resident; or
  • Came to the U.S. as children or have children who are citizens or legal residents.

These are just some common ways an immigrant might qualify to stay in the U.S. If you want legal status, you must apply. Some applications take a long time or are very hard to get. Unfortunately, some people will not qualify for legal status.

To learn more about any of these immigration options, visit our Learning Center.