Your Guide to the (Difficult) US Legal Immigration Process

U.S. immigration laws allow for a limit of 675,000 permanent immigrants every year.

The legal immigration process can be challenging and difficult to understand. Read this article to find out how to make it easier!
The legal immigration process can be challenging and difficult to understand. Read this article to find out how to make it easier!

Today, over 40 million foreign-born people live in the US. Most immigrants to the U.S. use the legal immigration process to enter. But navigating that process can be hard.

If you have questions about the U.S. immigration process, we have your answers below. Keep reading to learn about how you can legally immigrate to the United States.

Why Is It So Hard to Immigrate Legally?

U.S. immigration laws place limits on the number of immigrants that can enter every year. They also place limits on the immigration preferences within each category of immigration.

But the limitations don’t stop there. There’s also a limit on how many immigrants can come from any one country in a year.

Recent political developments have also made it more difficult for asylum seekers to enter the United States. The asylum-seeking process is one which takes place legally when immigrants arrive on American soil. This has come into question lately with asylum-seekers being told that the process must be started from outside the country

The Legal Immigration Process

The Immigration and Naturalization Act regulated immigration in the U.S. It states that immigration laws are based on reunifying families and adding to the U.S. economy. The protection of refugees as well as promoting diversity are also a part of U.S. immigration policies.

Below we’ve outlined the way in which you can legally enter the United States.

Family-Based Immigration

U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents (LPR’s) can bring family members to the U.S. Family members that are permitted fall under the immediate relative’s category or go through a family preference system

Immediate relatives are only those of U.S. citizens. This includes spouses, unmarried minor children under the age of 21, as well as parents.

The family preference system allows for adult children and brothers and sisters of U.S. citizens to enter. Spouses and unmarried children of LPR’s are also considered.

Employment-Based Immigration

If an immigrant can bring valuable skills to the U.S., they may be permitted to immigrate on a permanent or temporary basis.

There are more than 20 visas for temporary employment-based immigration. These visas give employers the ability to bring foreign nationals to the U.S. for a specific time period.

Only 140,000 permanent employment-based immigrants can enter the U.S. every year. Entrance is based on five preference categories.


If a person is fleeing persecution or is unable to return to their country, the U.S. may permit them to enter legally. To qualify for immigration as a refugee, these individuals must have a well-founded fear of persecution due to race, religion, national origin, political option, or membership in a social group.

Admission as a refugee is based on the risk the individual faces and whether they have family in the U.S. Their membership in a group of special concern to the U.S. may affect their ability to gain refugee status.

Diversity Visa

The U.S. allocates 55,000 visas to people living in countries that have low rates of U.S. immigration. These nationals are randomly selected in the Diversity Visa Lottery.

More Immigration Tips

The legal immigration process to the U.S. is not only difficult to navigate, but it’s also restrictive. Legal immigration has annual caps and preference that make it hard to enter the country legally. But knowing your options is the first step to getting you or your family into the United States.

For more helpful tips for immigrants and new U.S. citizens, check out our blog.


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