Understanding Immigration Laws in Missouri

For questions about immigration laws in Missouri, you may benefit from the help of skilled attorneys. Call KC Immigration Lawyers for answers to this.

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What are Immigration Laws?

Federal immigration laws determine who is allowed to enter the country and for how long. Immigration law controls detention and removal proceedings (“deportation”) when foreign nationals enter without permission, overstay their visit, or otherwise lose their legal status. These federal provisions also govern the naturalization process.

U.S. immigration law is based on the following principles:

  • The reunification of families
  • Admitting immigrants with skills that are valuable to the U.S. economy
  • Protecting refugees
  • Promoting diversity

If you are in the process of immigrating or are considering immigrating to the United States, contact KC Immigration Lawyers for a free consultation.

Federal and State Immigration Laws

Congress has the exclusive right to legislate and determine immigration policy in the area of immigration. The Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) and Title 8 of the United States Code contain the relevant laws.

Immigration laws are administered and enforced in part by three federal agencies that are part of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

  1. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) processes applications for legal immigration and U.S. citizenship
  2. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) investigates and prosecutes breaches of immigration law.
  3. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is responsible for the security of the borders.

As a result of a supremacy clause in the U.S. Constitution, state laws cannot interfere with federal immigration enforcement. Hence, state governments are prohibited from enacting immigration laws, including Missouri. Therefore, Missouri adheres to federal immigration law, as do all other states.

The federal government is the sole authority for granting visas, green cards, and U.S. citizenship, but states also have laws regulating certain immigration activities. The majority of these state laws relate to employment, education, licensing, and state benefits.

Federal immigration law is legally enforceable by the federal government, though Missouri can assist in enforcing it.

Understanding these immigration laws can be challenging and time-consuming. Working with an experienced attorney with a better understanding and practice of immigration laws in Missouri can help you expedite the process. A better understanding of your options will help in navigating your process of getting a green card or citizenship with ease.

Overview of US Immigration: Citizenship and Permanent Residency

People who wish to immigrate to the United States must submit several detailed applications to the federal government. An experienced attorney can assist applicants who qualify to apply for permanent residency (a green card) and eventual citizenship.


Foreigners must obtain permission to come to the United States through a visa approval process. There are two main visa categories available:

  • Immigrant visas are for those who want to permanently stay in the U.S. (also called “green cards”)
  • Non-immigrant visas are temporary visas for tourists, students, and business people.

There is an exception to this general provision: citizens of 37 specified developed countries deemed politically and economically stable by the U.S. are permitted to visit for up to 90 days without obtaining a visa.

This is known as the visa waiver program. The visa waiver program is an expedited process. It prohibits holders from working and attending school.

What Is a Green card?

A green card is a document granting formal permission to a foreign resident to remain permanently in the United States. A green card holder (also known as a “permanent resident”) has been granted authorization to permanently live and work in the United States.

One can become a permanent resident in several ways:

  • Family Sponsorship
  • Employer sponsorship
  • Refugee status
  • Asylee status

Family-Based Immigration

Immigration based on family is the most common method of obtaining legal status. It involves filing an application on behalf of a foreign family member by a permanent resident or U.S. citizen. It is important to consult with a qualified, experienced, and proficient family immigration lawyer, as there are a number of nuances to this area of law.

    • Immediate relatives: U.S. citizens can sponsor “immediate relatives.” Immediate relatives include spouses; parents of a citizen 21 years or older; unmarried children under the age of 21, and children adopted before turning 16.

    • There is no limit to the number of immediate relative visas approved yearly. The practical effect is that there is no waiting period other than the time required to process the visa application.

    • More distant relatives: Petitions for more distant relatives are subject to annual quotas. Preference categories determine when these family members need to wait to come to the United States.

    K-1 Non-Immigrant Visa

    Known as a fiancé visa, this visa is issued for those who intend to marry within 90 days of entering the U.S. with their fiancé(e). Due to previous abuses, the authorities often scrutinize this visa option.

    It is important that you see a K1 visa lawyer before applying.

    Employment-Based Immigration

    For most employment-based immigrants, a private employer sponsors them. The number of green cards available annually to immigrant employment eligibility in five employment-based categories is 140,000. High-skilled immigrants and investors do not require sponsorship.

    Investor-Based Immigration

    Investors (and their spouses and unmarried children under 21) are eligible to apply for a green card if they:

    • Make the necessary investments in commercial businesses in the United States; and

    • Plan to create or preserve ten permanent full-time jobs for qualified U.S. workers in their labor force.


    Naturalization is the legal process of a person taking on citizenship in a country other than the one of their birth.

    A person can become a United States citizen in one of four ways:

    1. By being born in the United States
    2. By being born to U.S. citizen parents
    3. By being naturalized (which usually involves specific residency requirements and passing a citizenship test)
    4. Being a minor and having one or more of your parents become naturalized citizens.

      How can an Attorney Help?

      Immigration regulations frequently change, making staying current with the law challenging. Immigration is considered a complex practice area not suited for general law practitioners. If you are dealing with any immigration issues, it is always an excellent practice to consult with a skilled, locally-based family immigration lawyer. They are sure to be up to date with the relevant laws and will be able to advise you on the best way forward.

      Immigrant Frequently Asked Questions

      Can Undocumented Immigrants Get Driver’s Licenses in Missouri?

      The answer to this is no. The revenue department may not issue a driver’s license to a subject of illegal immigration nor to anyone who cannot prove their lawful presence in the U.S.

      What Is The 10-Year Law for Immigration?

      When someone accrues unlawful presence in the U.S. for over a year, they will be barred from returning to the country for ten years. If they stay in the country illegally for more than 180 days, but less than a year, they will be barred from re-entering for three years.

      Can Undocumented Immigrants Get Medicaid in Missouri?

      Undocumented immigrants are unable to get Medicaid. However, undocumented immigrants can get assistance for emergency medical care, prenatal care, services offering alternatives to abortion, emergency assistance, and legal assistance.