Civil rights law is the practice area of attorneys who advise individuals, businesses and governmental entities about legal matters touching upon civil rights. Civil rights laws are varied, complex and constantly evolving. Civil rights laws cover the diverse assortment of rights and freedoms recognized and guaranteed every United States citizen and resident by federal, state and local laws and constitutions. For instance, citizens and residents have freedoms associated with their speech, assembly, association, and the right to practice a religion of their choice; to their life, liberty and personal privacy; equal access to a public education, to the courts, to public facilities, services and housing; equal and fair treatment by law enforcement and the courts; as well as the right to vote. The various civil rights include not only freedoms, but also the right to be free from discrimination in the availability and exercise of those freedoms.
“Discrimination” results when an individual’s, group’s, or a business or governmental entity’s preference or prejudice fosters conduct or a practice that obstructs or hinders another’s equal access or exercise of guaranteed civil rights or freedoms. Obviously, not every infringement of another’s civil rights or freedom amounts to illegal discrimination. The civil rights laws make it illegal to discriminate on the basis of one’s membership in a protected class. One may not discriminate or adversely impact another on the basis of race, color, religion, gender, age, disability or national origin. As a rule of thumb, discrimination against a protected class of citizens that interferes with the exercise of voting rights, the right to assemble, freedom of speech, religion, or association or with equal opportunities to education or housing brings civil rights laws into play.
A foreign national may be eligible to enter the United States for purposes such as:
- Reunification with Family
Reunification with Family
A family member, who is a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident, can sponsor a petition (Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative) to have a family member admitted the U.S. to live and work. Spouses and children are given preference over other relatives. Proof of family relationship must be provided.
Examples would be a U.S. citizen who sponsors his children to join him in the U.S. or a U.S. citizen who sponsors his new spouse to immigrate to the U.S.
Temporary visas are available to those who wish to study, work, or travel in the U.S. These are nonimmigrant visas, meaning they are limited to a period of time.
Examples would be a foreign national student who wishes to study nuclear physics at MIT or a foreign national couple who wishes to visit the Grand Canyon.
A U.S.-based employer can petition to have workers admitted to the U.S. with permission to work for a period of years or reside and live in the U.S. permanently. The worker must be particularly skilled and may apply for a temporary visa or an immigration visa.
For immigration, labor certifications must be filed (Forms ETA 750 and ETA 750B) and Form I-I40 Petition for Alien Worker must be filed with supporting documentation.
Examples would be an American bio-tech company that sponsors a highly regarded Phd and a U.S.-based company that sponsors a communications technology expert.
Foreign nationals who display extraordinary ability and achievement, as well as those who have critical skills and experience, may apply for a visa. This O & P visa is temporary, and lasts for the time it takes for the foreign national to participate in a U.S.-based function.
Examples would be a world-renowned ballerina, an Olympic team, or an artist that is part of an exchange program.
If a foreign national, person or company, wishes to invest funds in a business situated in the U.S. and his or her presence and the presence of employees is essential to the business succeeding, the foreign national can apply for entrance for a period of years or a permanent immigrant status. A temporary visa is appropriate for a period of years and a Form I-526 is used by an immigrant (Immigrant Petition by Alien Entrepreneur.)
An example would be a foreign national company that wants to open a software development company in Silicon Valley, hiring American workers.
A foreign national is eligible to file for refugee status if he or she has either suffered or is fearful of suffering persecution in his or her home country. Such persecution may be based upon nationality, race, religion, political views, or group membership.
An example would be someone from Darfur or Rwanda.
The lottery program allows up to 55,000 foreign nationals (annually) from countries with very low immigration rates to immigrate to the U.S. in the pursuance of diversity.
Examples of low immigration countries would be Egypt and Congo.
Where to Get Help with Immigration Matters
Consult with a qualified immigration attorney for help with immigration matters. An immigration attorney can help you to determine your best course for entering the United States, represent you in court, and thoroughly explain the application process.