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Immigrating to Florida
Florida is a favored destination for tourists and immigrants alike. As of 2014, approximately 4 million immigrants were living in the Sunshine State. Florida is fourth on the list of the top five states with the largest immigrant populations. If you are an immigrant and want to work in Florida or make it your home, you have to go through the immigration process.
Immigrating to Florida
Foreign nationals can travel to Florida or another after they obtain a visa or other authorization. The vast majority of immigrants enter with a visa. There are dozens of visas available to immigrants who want to enter the U.S. temporarily or permanently. For a full list of visas visit the State Department website: https://travel.state.gov/content/visas/en/general/all-visa-categories.html.
Following are the three most common visa categories:
Immigrant Visa vs. Nonimmigrant Visa
All visas issued for travel to Florida and the rest of the U.S., fall under one of two categories except for the H-1B visa.
Nonimmigrant visas- In 2015, the State Department issued over 10 million non-immigrant visas. These visas are also known as temporary visas because they are granted to immigrants for work or travel for a limited time. Recipients of nonimmigrant visas cannot apply for a green card or citizenship unless they get an adjustment of status.
Immigrant visas- These visas are reserved for immigrants who intend on immigrating to the U.S. permanently. The State Department issued 531,463 immigrant visas in 2015. Immigrant visas are issued for employment, family sponsorship or sponsorship of a fiancé(e) or spouse.
The H-1B visa is considered a dual-intent visa because recipients can apply for a green card or citizenship if an employer sponsors them.
Other immigration statuses:
Florida is near Cuba, so a large fraction of the state’s immigration population are Cuban exiles fleeing the Castro regime. While relations between the U.S. and Cuba are not completely normalized, the relationship is changing, and the Cuban government is lifting some restrictions on travel, so the U.S. recently ended the wet foot, dry foot policy. That means Cuban immigrants will not be given residency status upon entry unless they apply for a visa or other immigration status.
Florida immigration laws
Florida participates in “Secure Communities,” a federal program known which requires police to check the immigration status of arrestees they suspect of being undocumented. An individual’s fingerprints are run through a federal database to determine if they are documented or undocumented. If that individual is undocumented, police are instructed to contact immigration authorities to pick the detainee up.
Additionally, employers are required to check the immigration status of the immigrants they hire to ensure they are documented.
Unauthorized immigration in Florida
The U.S. is a beacon for many immigrants, but getting authorization is hard, and many immigrants decide to enter the U.S. and Florida without authorization. It may be tempting, but it isn’t advisable since illegal immigration has several consequences including long-term detention and being barred from the U.S. temporarily or permanently. All immigrants who are contemplating entering the U.S. without authorization should speak with an immigration attorney first to see if there is a legal route.
If you are an immigrant and need help with any immigration issue, let USAttorneys connect you with a legal expert. We have a devoted team of immigration lawyers in Florida who can help you apply for employment or family-based visa, asylum or fight an order of removal.