If you are a U.S. citizen you can petition for certain qualifying family members to receive U.S. permanent residence and a green card. Under current U.S. Immigration and Nationality Laws a U.S. citizen can petition for the following relatives:
- Husband or Wife.
- Unmarried child under the age of 21.
- Son or daughter of any age.
- Parents, if you are 21 or over
- Siblings, if you are 21 or over
The first step to obtaining a green card for a qualifying family member is to establish the relationship. This is done through filing Form I-130 with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). For certain qualifying relationships there is no wait time to obtain a visa, others must wait until a visa number is available before obtaining their green card. No matter what your qualifying relationship may be, it is best to file Form I-130 as soon as possible. Family-based green card petitions can be placed into two categories:
1. Petitions Subject to Wait Times – Filing Form I-130 will start the green card process. Once Form I-130 is receipted in by USCIS, a priority date is issued. The priority date will determine when the relative will be able to process for their green card. After Form I-130 has been approved and the wait time has been met, the consular processing or adjustment stage begins. If the process is successful a green card will then be issued. Currently visa wait times range from a few years to several years. Relatives of a U.S. Citizen subject to wait times are: Married sons and daughters, Sons and Daughters age 21 and over and Brothers and Sisters.
2. Petitions Not Subject to Wait Times – The green card process is handled differently depending on whether the family member is already in the United States in valid status or whether they will be processing at a consulate. If the family is already in the United States in valid immigration status Form I-130 and Form I-485 can be filed together. Once the I-130 and I-485 are approved a green card will be issued. If the family member is not within the United States and will be processing through a consulate, Filing Form I-130 will start the green card process. Once Form I-130 is approved the family member will then begin consular processing for their green card. Relatives of a U.S. Citizen that are not subject to wait times are: Spouses, Parents and unmarried children under age 21.
If you are a qualifying family member of a U.S. Citizen, or you are a U.S. Citizen petitioning for a loved one, we can help. We advise our clients to file Form I-130 as soon as possible so that they can begin the process to obtain permanent status for their loved one(s) at the earliest date possible. Petitions for family members are not guaranteed and are often delayed and denied due to filing mistakes. We have experience assisting U.S. Citizens petition for their loved ones whether they are currently within the United States or are waiting overseas. It is important that the petition process be handled carefully. Failure to properly petition for your loved one(s) can result in unnecessary delays and added expense. It is best to engage the services of an experienced immigration attorney early on in the process. Working with an experienced immigration attorney will give you peace of mind and save you time and money in the long run. Most importantly, if the process is handled correctly your loved ones will receive their permanent resident status without delay. Call Richards and Kruger Immigration Law today for assistance with your immigration matter.
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