Family-Based Green Card (Permanent Residence)
One of the ways to obtain lawful permanent residence or "green card" is through sponsorship by a qualifying family member residing in the U.S. The sponsoring family member must be either a U.S. citizen or U.S. permanent resident.
U.S. permanent resident status allows one to live and work freely in the U.S.
Once an individual has obtained permanent resident status (“green card”), he or she is eligible to apply for citizenship after five (5) years. Individuals that obtain permanent residency based upon marriage to a U.S. citizen may apply for citizenship after three (3) years.
It is also possible to retain the citizenship of one's home country while in U.S. in permanent resident status.
There are different categories for each type of family based immigration petition. These categories determine the time it takes to obtain lawful permanent residency.
Immigrant visas are current for immediate relatives of U.S. citizens seeking permanent residency. Individuals who qualify as immediate family members include:
- Spouses of U.S. citizens;
- Unmarried children of U.S. citizens who are under the age of 21; and
- Parents of U.S. citizens (provided citizen is or above 21 years of age).
The preference categories are allocated a limited number of visas each year. Individuals are grouped into visa preference categories that are ranked according to the order they are preferred for immigration purposes. Essentially, the higher the preference category, the more quickly an individual will be granted permanent residency status. The following groups are considered preference categories:
- Unmarried sons and daughters of U.S. citizens who are 21 years of age or older (First Preference).
- Spouses and unmarried sons and daughters of permanent residents (Second Preference).
- Married sons and daughters of U.S. citizens (Third Preference).
- Brothers and sisters of U.S. citizens (Fourth Preference).
Process for Obtaining U.S. Permanent Resident Status
Our firm, on behalf of the qualifying U.S. citizen or Lawful Permanent Resident holder files a family based immigrant petition with United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) along with all supporting documents.
- USCIS issues a Notice of Action acknowledging receipt of the case.
- Upon approval of the immigrant petition by USCIS, the overseas applicant may schedule an interview when a priority date is available. For immediate relatives of U.S. citizens, the priority date is always current. However, for the preference categories, the wait depends upon the applicant's preference category and country in which the applicant is a national of.
- At the time the priority date is available, the applicant schedules an interview at the closest U.S. consulate in his/her home country to obtain lawful permanent resident status.
It bears noting that applicants currently in the U.S. in valid non immigrant visa may apply for adjustment of status together with the immigrant petition only if they are immediate relatives of a U.S. citizen (spouse, parent, unmarried child under the age of 21).