Family-Based Green Cards and Immigrant Visas
One of the benefits of U.S. citizenship is the ability to file green card petitions for various family members including spouses, children, parents, and siblings. In addition, a U.S. citizen may also sponsor a foreign fiancé to come to the U.S. for the purpose of marriage.
Immigration law differentiates between “immediate relatives” and “preference relatives.” Immediate relatives receive special immigration priority and do not have to wait in line for a visa number to become available for them to immigrate. Immediate relatives include the following individuals:
- Spouses of U.S. citizen;
- Children (under 21) of U.S. citizens; and
- Parents of U.S. citizens;
Family preference categories, on the other hand, often have a wait associated with them. This category includes adult children and siblings of U.S. citizens. There is a limited number of visas available for the preference categories and that number fluctuates. As a result, the wait can last many years, depending on the family relationship and the relative’s country of origin.
Legal Permanent Residents or green card holders can only file petitions for their spouses, unmarried children under 21 and unmarried sons and daughters over 21. As with U.S. citizens, the processing times for this green card varies depending on the relative being petitioned and his or her country of origin.
Adjustment of Status and Consular Processing
If an individual is already in the U.S. and has a qualifying U.S. citizen or LPR relative, then they may be eligible to adjust from a nonimmigrant status to a permanent residence, without having to leave the country. To be eligible, an individual must generally meet three fundamental requirements:
- be physically present in the U.S.;
- have made a lawful entry into the U.S.,
- be admissible to the U.S.; and
- have an immigrant visa immediately available for them.
If an individual is currently outside of the U.S. or does not qualify for Adjustment of Status, a qualifying relative can petition for them through the U.S. Consulate or Embassy in their home country. Once an immigrant visa petition is approved by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”), this process is done through the National Visa Center (“NVC”) and the individual will eventually attend the interview at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in his or her country of origin
Conditional Green Cards
If an individual obtains their green card through marriage and had been married for less than 2 years when they obtained their green card, then they receive a conditional green card. The conditional green card expires within two (2) years, and the individual must apply to remove the conditions before its expiration date to obtain a permanent green card.
If the couple is no longer together at this time, the immigrant spouse may still be able to apply to remove conditions on the green card without his or her U.S. citizen or legal permanent resident spouse. However, these cases require additional evidence and he immigrant spouse must meet certain requirements.
Waivers of Inadmissibility
Under the immigration laws, there are various areas of inadmissibility, such as having accrued unlaw presence in the U.S., certain criminal convictions, committing fraud, and even being diagnosed with certain communicable diseases. An individual cannot be issued a green card if he or she is inadmissible. However, there are many waivers available so that an individual can potentially still obtain an immigrant visa with an approved waiver, even if they are inadmissible. It is important to make sure all of the requirements are met when preparing these waivers in order to have the best chance of approval.
Review Your Case With Us
Our Practice areas
A Law Firm Founded By Immigrants, For Immigrants.