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Family based Immigration

Eligibility

To be eligible for lawful permanent residence (Green Card) based on a family relationship, the following criteria must be applicable:

i. You must have a relative who is a US Citizen/lawful US permanent resident (in some cases) and is willing to sponsor you for lawful permanent residency by filing the I-130 Petition.

ii. Your relative should be able to prove that he/she can support you by providing documentation that his/her income is 125 percent above the poverty line for his/her family, including you and other sponsored family members.

If Petitioner for the prospective Immigrant is a U.S. Citizen:

A. Immediate Relatives

An immediate relative of a U.S. citizen, include spouses, unmarried children under the age of 21, and parents of US citizen. Immediate relatives always have visa numbers immediately available and US citizen can sponsor them to immigrate immediately.

B. Family Based Preference Category

If the family member of the U.S. citizen is not an immediate relative, then the U.S. citizen may still be able to sponsor them via what is called a “family preference category.”  Eligible relatives include:

  • Unmarried sons or daughters over the age of 21;
  • Married child(ren) of any age;
  • Brothers and sisters (if the U.S. citizen petitioner is over the age of 21).
Individuals that qualify under family based preference category have to undergo a waiting period for their visa number to become available.

If Petitioner of the prospective Immigrant is a Permanent Resident (Green Card Holder)

In order to promote family unity, Immigration law allows permanent residents of the United States to petition for certain eligible family members. Eligible relatives include:
  • his/her spouse;
  • and unmarried child(ren) of any age;
Individual that qualify under this category have to undergo a waiting period for their visa number to become available.

Green Card through Special Categories of Family

Individuals may also become a permanent resident (get a green card) through a special family situation. These adjustments of status programs are limited to individuals who meet particular qualifications. The qualifications are as follows:
  • Battered Spouse or Child (VAWA);
  • K Nonimmigrant (includes fiancĂ©(e));
  • Person Born to a Foreign Diplomat in the United States;
  • V Nonimmigrant;
  • Widow(er) of a U.S. Citizen.
For Green Card through Special Category, please see

http://www.uscis.gov/green-card/green-card-through-family/green-card-through-special-categories-family

Except for immediate relatives, the time a person has to wait to receive the visa, depends upon his or her visa category. The immediate relatives have advantages over the preference categories. There are no annual caps for the immediate relative category. Furthermore, if they entered the United States legally, immediate relatives are exempt from certain bars such as overstaying their time of admission.

Procedure to petition for Family Members:

The procedure is a multi-step process.

  • Your US citizen or Green Card holding relative must submit an I-130 petition with the required documentation. The USCIS must approve this petition.
  • For a petitioner who is a U.S. Citizen and family member qualifies under immediate relative, the second step, after I-130 approval, is to file form I-485.
  • For a petitioner who is a U.S. Citizen and family member qualifies under a family based preference category, you have to wait until the priority date (given in your approved I-130) in your immigrant visa category becomes current. Once the priority date is current, you may file Form I-485.
  • For a petitioner who is a permanent resident and family member is a spouse or unmarried child of any age, you must wait until the priority date (given in your approved I-130) in your immigrant visa category becomes current. Once the priority date is current, you may file Form I-485.
Adjustment of Status:

Section 245 of the immigration and naturalization laws allows certain persons to become permanent residents without leaving the U.S through a process called adjustment of status. Generally, persons who entered the US without being inspected by a USCIS officer, who have ever been unlawfully employed in the US, or who failed to maintain their lawful status in the U.S, are barred from adjusting their status in the US.>

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The information contained on this site is offered only for general informational and educational propose and does not constitute a legal advice or opinion. All efforts are being made to keep this information current, but it may not be guaranteed that it applies to your specific case, and should not be relied upon or acted without seeking the advice of qualified attorney.