Florida Immigration Law: The Essential Guide

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Are you looking to fulfill the American dream? We’re here to break down immigration law into easy-to-understand terms.

Living in Florida can become a reality, but there are some legal steps to follow. Let this article serve as your guide as you go through the process!

Overview of Florida Immigration Law

Florida immigration law has a broad scope. It is the umbrella legislation for all regulations concerning immigration matters, such as the immigration and nationality act.

It’s far more complicated than it seems, so it’s advisable to seek Florida immigration attorneys or law firm services who are familiar with its intricacies.

Unauthorized aliens and undocumented immigrants can be arrested or face a criminal case and detention in South Florida, so it’s crucial to abide by the law and explore immigration options.

Let’s discuss the different immigration law concepts below.

Common Services/Cases Immigration Attorneys Can Offer

There are different types of documents available depending on your desired immigration status. They are as follows.


Visas are like your “passes” when entering a country. You are probably most familiar with a travel visa, which is the authorization to enter the country for a short period.

Similarly, there are different visa types if you want to stay longer legally.

Family Visas

If you have U.S. citizen family members in Florida, you can get a temporary visa to stay in the state before applying for permanent residence.

There are different kinds of family visas and their corresponding conditions:

  • K-1 Fiance Visa: Foreigners can enter the state if they have fiances who are U.S. or Florida citizens. They must get married within 90 days and process the green card of the non-citizen partner.
  • Immediate Relative Visa: A citizen’s immediate relatives (children, parents, and spouses) can secure this visa.
  • Family Preference Visa: This is for a citizen’s extended family (siblings, cousins, aunts/uncles, etc.).
  • K-3 Spouse Visa: If you are already married to a citizen, you can apply for this visa while you process your immigrant petition.

Student Visas

Students who are enrolled in eligible institutions can apply for this visa. This is strictly for schooling purposes ONLY and not for a change in residence or immigration status.

The federal government approves the application and provides the allowable duration for the student’s stay.

The validity typically expires when the program ends. The student must return to their home country, and staying in Florida is now considered unauthorized.

Business, Investment, and Employment Visas

You may also enter Florida for business purposes. There are different types based on the nature of your visit.

  • B-1 Visa: This is NOT for long-term employment. It’s a temporary visa with 6-month validity for short-term meetings, negotiations, or events. The maximum extension is only for another six months (a total of one year).
  • E-1 Visa: This has a 2-year validity for people conducting long-term trading businesses in practice areas such as goods and services, tourism, banking, etc. The trade must be 50%-50% in the U.S. and the home nation.
  • E-2 Visa: This is for those with whom the U.S. has a treaty – mostly large investors and business people.
  • EB-5 Visa: Investors of new enterprises (companies established from 1990 onwards) or those who will invest $1M in the U.S.

Type R Visas

R (or R-1) stands for Religious Worker and Minister. You can enter the state for ministry purposes with a maximum visa validity of up to five years.

The requirement is for them to work at least 20 hours a week in religious vocations. They must also be employed by religious groups and be bonafide members for at least two years.

Green Card, Naturalization, Citizenship Applications

The green card is for those who want to apply for permanent citizenship. There are a lot of processes and requirements for this, but the outcome is worth it.

Its main difference from the visas above is permanence. Visas for non-immigrants are temporary and are only to fulfill a particular purpose (business, family visit, education, etc.).

A green card is needed for naturalization. People often confuse these concepts – the green card is a document for residencies, while naturalization is a process for citizenship.

People with green cards should apply 90 days before reaching three to five years of living in Florida. You must also be residing in Florida for at least three months.

There are many requirements for naturalization in Florida. But these are some of the general ones:

  • Must be 18 years old and above
  • Must have a clean record and good moral character
  • Must be residing in Florida for at least three months (has a green card)
  • Must apply 90 days before the 3rd (up to 5th) year of residency
  • Must undergo background checks and exams

It’s not as easy to attain permanent status in Florida if you’re doing it alone. That’s why immigration attorneys are crucial in providing clients with the proper guidance and information for positive results.

Florida Immigration lawyers should be knowledgeable and competent in immigration laws. A Florida immigration attorney can prepare all the necessary documents and represent you at court hearings.

Consular Processing

This is the last step in the Florida green card application, but “last” doesn’t mean it’s not hectic! There are still many procedures to go through:

  1. Determining eligibility
  2. Filing of petition
  3. Decision: Approval or Denial
  4. The National Visa Center (NVC) will notify you of the following steps if approved
  5. Interview appointment
  6. Settle fees
  7. Approved visa
  8. Claim green card

Immigration Motions and Deportation Defense

If your application was rejected after the above process, you could file an immigration motion to request reconsideration.

As per Florida immigration law, you must file within 30 days after the decision (or 33 days if by mail). You can question the decision for removal and rejection to be overturned.

The two main motions are to reopen the case or to reconsider the decision. If you deem the result to violate the immigration law, ask a lawyer to help resolve concerns.

On that note, the deportation defense system aims for a similar purpose.

Since federal immigration officials and customs enforcement have been stricter against unauthorized aliens, many have faced deportation and removal threats.

Asylum Seekers

Immigration laws are designed to help protect asylum seekers needing refuge in Florida.

Asylum status is granted to people who may face danger when returning home. They’re allowed to stay in the U.S. and apply for permanent residence.

Those granted asylum status are primarily refugees or non-permanent residents facing deportation.

Waivers for Immigration in Florida

The federal immigration law, customs enforcement, law enforcement, and other legal sectors uphold high standards when accepting immigrants.

They ensure that the person applying abides by the rules and Florida legislature. Every mistake can work against you, which is why waivers are here to aid the process should such circumstances arise.

But note that waivers do NOT guarantee reconsideration; they may only help.

Waivers and Motions

Florida immigration law is strict. If you have an application underway and got involved in a crime, there’s a high chance of rejection, detention, and even deportation.

This is where waivers and motions come in. Think of them as remedies to ease and reverse the decisions. Immigration lawyers can help you defend your case.

Some waivers are used for the following scenarios:

  • Unlawful Presence: When a person is caught living in the country illegally.
  • Fraud: When an individual falsifies his identity or other claims.
  • Criminal Convictions: When an individual has criminal cases.

Why Are Immigrants Important to Florida?

While the path to being a citizen in Florida is challenging, the federal immigration law office, customs enforcement, and homeland security support immigrants as long as the proper legal process is followed.

Immigration is beneficial to the country. Their contributions impact businesses, the labor force, and the economy overall.

It also benefits applicants to stay in the state for opportunities to practice professions, pursue education, and seek protection. It’s a mutual relationship.

However, Florida immigration laws are there to facilitate and control the people coming into the country.

An influx of undocumented immigrants can threaten security, so customs enforcement and the government are working to maintain safety without closing the gates lawfully.

What Are the New Immigration Bill Developments?

The immigration bill has had many developments throughout the years. Expect more changes as officials like Gov. Ron Desantis aim to fix the immigration law system.

1. Deportation of Undocumented Immigrants

The deportation of undocumented immigrants has increased with the changes in the immigration bill.

The government will implement stricter policies to prevent contractors and transportation companies from helping undocumented immigrants reach the state.

But there are still debates regarding this as others question Gov. Ron Desantis on how they’ll lawfully resettle undocumented immigrants.

The answer to this is a possible action of the Florida Department of Transportation to resettle unauthorized alien groups. Department of Children and Families must also provide shelter.

2. No Effect on Unaccompanied Minors

The new developments in the Florida immigration law alerted many because of its effect on unaccompanied minors and children under adult custody.

But they clarified that unaccompanied minors, children under the Deferred Action and Arrivals program, and approved asylum seeker(s) wouldn’t be affected by the new immigration bill.

3. Worries for Pending Cases

A lot of people are worried about the consequences if they start to enforce the changes in the immigration bill strictly.

Those with pending applications will be in gray areas since they are technically considered unauthorized aliens in this situation.

Companies can help ease the legislative consequences by settling labor certification more efficiently.

Another worry is for unaccompanied minors. Although they’re said to be unaffected, their parent’s immigration status still impacts theirs.

4. New Systems for Law Enforcement and Detention Centers

The state’s law enforcement and county detention centers are urged to help catch illegal aliens under the new immigration law. All officials in service are expected to participate.

What Is the 10-Years-Law for Immigration?

People facing deportation cases can apply the ten (10) years law in the proceedings. Non-permanent residents can use this as a premise.

The 10 Years Law entails that they have lived in the United States for ten (10) years while upholding good moral character and have remained good residents, showing respect to the laws and legislature.

Additionally, they can claim that their deportation can cause immediate family members and dependents residing in the U.S. to suffer without their support.

In many cases, it’s a good premise for the judge to grant these people permanent residence.

Is the Service of an Immigration Law Firm Required?

It is NOT a requirement to have an immigration lawyer in service. You can process documents on your own.

But the reality is that many of the laws are complex. The processes are also challenging to overcome. There’s a high chance that the attempt won’t be successful.

Immigration law companies offer services to their clients in different practice areas.

Whether you need temporary or permanent visas or assistance with deportation and declined applications, having a lawyer in service will help you immensely.

Your attorney will serve as your agent and guide as you comply with the requirements.

Find law firms that will practice an excellent attorney-client relationship with you. Immigration proceedings are complicated; you don’t need the added stress as a client.

Summary of Federal Immigration Law

The immigration law has a broad scope that tackles citizenships, visas, immigration cases, residencies, etc. It’s more complex, and the processes take a long time.

Illegal residence in the state can be dangerous for you and your family, especially with the stricter crackdown on unauthorized aliens in recent years.

Abiding lawfully will lessen the legal consequences. Fortunately, many attorneys serve as agents to help immigrants fix their documents, face court hearings, and acquire their permanent status lawfully.


We understand that immigration laws can be intimidating, especially if facing them alone. So, we’re here to help.

Knowing these basic concepts makes the technicalities easier to understand.

Don’t hesitate to contact the trusted immigration attorneys at Florida Law Advisers, P.A., as you settle immigration details. We are here to assist you in achieving your dreams and upholding your rights in the state of Florida.

At Florida Law Advisers, P.A., we are committed to solving your divorce, bankruptcy, and immigration matters. We are a full-service law firm serving clients in Tampa, Hillsborough County, Orlando, and throughout Central Florida.