The process of waiting for a green card can be long and tiring. A large number of applications are being processed at any given time, and this often creates a backlog of applications. Understanding the large volume of applicants and becoming familiar with the application process can reduce some frustration in waiting.
One thing to do to reduce this frustration is to be familiar with the processing time information. Processing times change frequently, and delays can be very common. For more information on processing times, check out this article on the green card backlog.
Sometimes, a person may be declared inadmissible under U.S. Immigration Law. Situations that could make a person inadmissible include health problems, certain criminal activity, and unlawful presence in the U.S. for more than 180 days. If you are deemed inadmissible, you will be required to apply for a waiver of inadmissibility before qualifying for a family-based green card.
Some other important things to keep in mind are that changes in life circumstances, such as turning 21 or getting married, may change a child’s classification from an immediate relative to a family preference category.
If you are filing for a green card while already present in the United States, you may be able to use the “Adjustment of Status” option. People who use this route must meet certain requirements, such as being eligible for a family based Green Card, among other things. By using this option, you will not have to leave the United States while your application is being processed.
If you are currently outside the United States, you will apply for a Green Card via Consular Processing in your home country. If approved, you may travel to the U.S. and will be an official permanent resident when admitted at a U.S. port of entry.
Some applicants already residing in the U.S. may have the option to use either Adjustment of Status or Consular Processing. Each option has advantages and disadvantages, and it may be best to consult an attorney to determine which is the best option for you.
U.S. citizens can petition for immediate relatives and other family members.
Immediate relatives include spouses, unmarried children under age 21, and parents of U.S. citizens. These people have special priority and do not have to wait for a visa number to become available.
U.S. citizens can also sponsor family members through a “family preference category”. This category includes unmarried children over the age of 21, married children of any age, and siblings of a U.S. citizen. There are a limited number of visas available for this category of people and there is usually a waiting period before a visa becomes available.
Lawful Permanent Residents may petition for spouses and children.
Applying for a family-based green card can be complex. With many forms to fill out and rules that constantly change, hiring a lawyer to help with the process can be beneficial. An attorney can help you file the appropriate documents in a timely manner, and assist with any complications or delays that might come up. An attorney can also provide advice about an application or represent you in court if needed.
No, you do not need to be a U.S. citizen to petition for some family. As a lawful permanent resident, you may be able to petition for your spouse and children.
U.S. citizens may petition for more members of their family than lawful permanent residents, and immediate relatives of U.S. citizens do not need to wait for a visa--they are immediately eligible to apply for a green card.