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The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has federal oversight over immigration and issues accompanying immigration. The Immigration and Naturalization Act ("INA") aims to unify the numerous rules and regulations relating to immigration. The United States has a perennial immigration problem, and, following the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, the federal government grew stricter on implementation of immigration laws.

Immigration law in the United States is complex, and, as mentioned above, strictly implemented. Currently, the INA limits the annual worldwide permanent immigrants to 675,000. Certain exceptions apply to close family members, including spouse, minor children, parents, and siblings. The limit does not apply to the number of refugees admitted each, the decision of which is left to the U.S. President's discretion. The main principle used in the admission of immigrants in the United States is reunification of families. Highly-skilled workers or specialists are also admitted as American immigrants. Moreover, the United States also admits as refugees and individuals from countries who have not sent immigrants in the past five years under the principle of promoting diversity.

Canada has one of the most extensive immigration program in the world by offering a number of options, including skilled worker, investor, trade worker, family sponsorship and Canadian experience. In Canada, immigration law is embodied under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act. The federal, provincial and territorial governments of Canada share jurisdiction over immigration issues.

Immigration in Australia is governed by the Migration Act and the Migration Regulations. Like the United States and Canada, Australia offers variety of visas for skilled workers. Australia also offers visas to refugees and asylum seekers although most of these visas have time expiration and grants limited rights to applicants.

Applying for immigrant status in the United States, Canada and Australia is a complicated, tedious, lengthy, and expensive process. It is filled with paperwork and the applicant must comply with numerous requirements before an application is granted. In the United States alone, application for immigrant status under the principle of family reunification must meet age and financial status requirements. Add to that the fact that the number of family preference visas, one of the two visas granted under the principle of family reunification, varies each year depending on the number of visas issued the prior year. Moreover, Congress also set a per-country ceiling under which permanent immigrants from one country cannot exceed 7% of the total amount of applicants for the same year. This means that a visa application can be automatically denied when that application is already past the limit set by Congress for the year.

One of the foremost issues accompanying immigration law is deportation. In order to avoid deportation, one must apply for immigrant status legally by filling out the proper forms, complying with the requirements, and paying the required fees. Deportation can lead to loss of employment, embarrassment, imprisonment, or bankruptcy. It is thus imperative to contact an expert immigration law attorney to apprise you of current immigration laws and procedures so that the money used for application would be well-spent.

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