Getting a Green Card Through Family
If you are related to a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident (LPR) with a green card, your family connection could make you eligible to receive your own green card. It is important to ensure that you meet the qualifications and that you properly present evidence to demonstrate your eligibility.
Mistakes made in the application process can cause serious problems. Your application could be denied or rejected. If the agencies involved believe your mistake was a deliberate attempt to obtain a green card by fraud, then you face serious difficulty applying again in the future.
Working with a dedicated green card lawyer at American DreamTM Law Office, PLLC can help you avoid those pitfalls and get you through the process without unnecessary delays.
Who is Eligible for a Family-Based Green Card?
Family-based immigrant visas that grant LPR status (with a green card) can be issued to individuals who are:
- Spouses of U.S. citizens or LPRs
- Children of U.S. citizens
- Unmarried children LPRs
- Parents of adult U.S. citizens
- Brothers and sisters of U.S. citizens
The government issues only a limited number of permanent immigrant visas each year, and these are allocated according to preference categories. Those considered to be “immediate relatives” of U.S. citizens are given highest priority in the process. This includes spouses, parents, and unmarried children under the age of 21.
Applicants who are married or have minor children are usually able to apply for a green card for their spouses and children as well. However, the wait time for applicants in this situation is often considerably longer.
How to Apply for a Family-Based Green Card
The first step is for the sponsoring relative who is a U.S. citizen or LPR to file a Form I-130 which is called the “Petition for Alien Relative.” This form will be processed by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). In addition to the form itself, the sponsoring relative will need to file supporting documents to prove the validity of the relationship and other critical information. In some cases, a visa application will be filed concurrently with the petition while in other cases, the visa application can only be submitted after the petition is approved.
A visa application cannot be processed until a visa becomes available for the applicant’s category. Visas for immediate relatives of citizens are not subject to a quota, so the wait time is minimal. For applicants in lower preference categories, particularly those from countries with high rates of immigration, the wait for a visa could stretch to many years. This is one reason why it is wise to work with a green card lawyer who can help ensure an applicant demonstrates the best qualifications for the highest preference visa category.
Many of the forms and supporting documentation required in the process of applying for a green card are used to demonstrate that the prospective green card holder will not need to rely on government programs for financial support. Most applicants will need to file a Form I-864 Affidavit of Support in which their sponsor pledges to assume financial responsibility for the applicant for approximately ten years or until the applicant becomes a citizen.
If the sponsor does not have sufficient income, then it may be necessary to obtain a co-sponsor.
Assistance from a Green Card Lawyer Can Help You Make the Most of Your Opportunities
Because immigration laws change frequently, it is important to stay aware of new requirements or opportunities. When you work with an experienced green card lawyer, you gain an advocate who can take all available steps to help you gain your green card without unnecessary delays. Whether you need help starting the process or you are having problems with a pending application, contact American DreamTM Law Office, PLLC today to learn how we could help.
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