Green cards provide legal permanent residence to foreign nationals in the United States. While the government offers more than one way to pursue a green card, one of the most common is through the family based green card application process. This avenue is intended for an entire family to acquire legal permanent residence.
Requirements for Immediate Relatives
A foreign relative must be sponsored by a qualifying family member—a US citizen spouse or green card holder who fills out an I-130 on their behalf. Each family member receives a separate I-130, and immediate relatives can adjust their status quickly via a Form I-485. This avoids a lengthy waiting period for a visa, but it only applies to immediate family members: spouses, parents, or children (unmarried and under 21 years of age).
In addition, the applicant must prove that the two relevant people are in a qualifying relationship; this can be done through birth certificates and related records for biological relationships. For a spouse, a marriage certificate and proof that the marriage is bonafide — in other words, not entered solely for the purpose of acquiring a green card—must also be provided. Couples who have been married for fewer than two years will be granted permanent residence conditionally and must re-certify after two years in order to curb marriages solely for the purpose of acquiring a green card.
Requirements for Preference Relatives
Preference relatives are slightly different from immediate relatives in their categorization. These include people such as married sons and daughters and brothers and sisters. These relatives are not as high priority in the green card process, so they do not have the opportunity to skip the visa waiting period as immediate relatives do. For this reason, bringing preference relatives into the country and obtaining a green card for them can be a lengthy process.
However, just because preference relatives are subject to limited visa numbers and cutoff dates for submission does not mean that they will never receive a green card. In light of the potentially long wait, they should make other plans and prepare to be patient while their application is processing.
Speak To The Law Offices of Kermit A. Monge, PLLC
Compiling a family based green card petition can feel overwhelming because each family member needs a full set of forms, evidence, and supplementary information. The difference between immediate and preference relatives complicates things further and makes the application process stressful for many who are hoping to achieve permanent residence in the United States.
That is why consulting with an experienced immigration attorney can significantly ease the burden of acquiring family based green cards. An immigration lawyer can guide you through collecting all of the information you need and assembling it into thorough, effective petitions to reduce wait time and make a strong case. Get in touch with The Law Offices of Kermit A. Monge to discuss your family situation and create a plan to make sure that everyone can get their green cards in a timely manner. Please give us a call at 703.273.5500 or request a consultation online.