Every day in the news, we are bombarded by stories regarding the current state of immigration in the U.S.  Whether you are going through the immigration process yourself or you just want to stay informed on the issues, the following are some of the most common misconceptions about  immigration in the U.S.

1)  I Can Become a Citizen Immediately After I Marry One

         Like many myths, this statement has a small amount of truth to it.  The path to U.S. citizenship is strongly family-based and marriage to a citizen may expedite the process.  However, even if you marry a citizen, you must still meet the eligibility requirements for citizenship and complete the application process and exam.  Marriage for citizenship alone is not a guaranteed path to naturalization and marriage fraud has serious legal consequences. 

2)  Getting a Green Card is Easy if I Have a Job

         Many Americans mistakenly believe that it is easy to obtain permanent legal residency (commonly referred to as a “green card”), however, it is a truly difficult process.  While immediate relatives of citizens and skilled workers in high demand are eligible for permanent residency, it can take many years before obtaining residency. 

         Furthermore, only certain visas allow immigrants to obtain permanent residency through their employer, such as K visas (also known as a fiancé visa) and H-1B visas.          

3)  Dangerous Criminals Can Easily Immigrate to the U.S.

         This is probably the most disturbing myth circulating today.  When going through the immigration process, all applicants must provide extensive information regarding their criminal history, family history, and employment history, as well as provide biometric data to be used to further screen the criminal background of applicants.  Even with these initial safeguards, immigration officers schedule interviews with applicants and may request additional evidence to ensure the applicant is not concealing any relevant information. 

         Interestingly, a study published in 2018 by the Cato Institute found that immigrants have far lower arrest and overall criminal conviction rates than native-born Americans.*  A separate study by the Cato Institute also found that the incarceration rate for native-born Americans was higher to that of both illegal and legal immigrants.* 

4)  Immigrants are Taking Over and Taking American Jobs

         There are interesting statistics to dispel both of these myths.  To start, immigrants actually only account for 13.5% of the total U.S. population.*   This number is in line with historical percentages of immigrants entering the U.S.

         As to the myth about jobs, immigrants are more likely to become entrepreneurs than native-born citizens.  Immigrant business owners were responsible for almost half of the growth of business ownership in the U.S. between 2000-2013.  New businesses are essential for a growing economy. In addition to bringing new ideas and products to existing markets, new businesses also provide jobs.  In 2015, 7.6 % of immigrants were self-employed, in comparison to only 5.6 % of native-born Americans. In the same year, immigrants started new businesses at almost twice the rate of native-born Americans.*     

As you can see, the immigration system is complex and difficult to navigate alone.  Seeking the advice of a qualified attorney can give you peace of mind and help you on your immigration journey.  

 

*https://object.cato.org/sites/cato.org/files/pubs/pdf/irpb-4-updated.pdf

*https://www.cato.org/publications/immigration-reform-bulletin/criminal-immigrants-their-numbers-demographics-countries

* U.S. Census Bureau, 2015 American Community Survey.

*http://gwbcenter.imgix.net/Resources/gwbi-americas-advantage-immigration-handbook-2017.pdf

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