US Immigration Law


U.S. immigration law is complex, and there is much confusion as to how it works. Immigration law in the United States has been built upon the following principles: the reunification of families, admitting immigrants with skills that are valuable to the U.S. economy, protecting refugees, and promoting diversity. Click here to see the fact sheet that provides basic information about how the U.S. legal immigration system is designed and functions.

Once a person obtains an immigrant visa and comes to the United States, they become a lawful permanent resident (LPR). In some circumstances, noncitizens already inside the United States can obtain LPR status through a process known as “adjustment of status.” Lawful permanent residents are foreign nationals who are permitted to work and live lawfully and permanently in the United States. LPRs are eligible to apply for nearly all jobs (i.e., jobs not legitimately restricted to U.S. citizens) and can remain in the country permanently, even if they are unemployed. After residing in the United States for five years (or three years in some circumstances), LPRs are eligible to apply for U.S. citizenship. It is impossible to apply for citizenship through the normal process without first becoming an LPR. Each year the United States also admits a variety of non-citizens on a temporary basis. Such “non-immigrant” visas are granted to everyone from tourists to foreign students to temporary workers permitted to remain in the U.S. for years.*

*Information courtesy of the American Immigration Council

Family Resources


Family Preparedness Plan

  • In the event where you might be separated from your children, the Immigrant Legal Resource Center has some information on how to create your own preparedness plan here.

Getting Info about a loved one in ICE custody

Legal Services Available

Gavel Legal Services

Catholic Charities-Eau Claire
(located behind Sacred heart Catholic Church)
448 N. Dewey Street
Eau Claire, WI 54703
Phone: 715-832-6644

The Immigration Services Program at Catholic Charities provides assistance to individuals and families with legal immigration services.

Catholic Charities-La Crossee
(located behind Sacred heart Catholic Church)
413 3rd Street South
La Crosse, WI 54601
Phone: 608-782-0710

Steve Laxton, Immigration Lawyer
Fluent in Spanish
112 West Oak Street
Sparta, WI 54656
Immigration services Offered: Deportation defense, documentation guidance, visas
Phone: 608-269-0501

Karina O’ Brien
Kostner, Koslo & Brovold, LLC
108 W. Main Street
Arcadia, WI 54612
Services offered: representation of individuals, businesses, & families with regard to their petitions with USCIS Phone: 608-323-3351