If you are the relative of a U.S. citizen or a Legal Permanent Resident (LPR) as defined in immigration law, you may be eligible to apply for a green card. This does not include immediate relatives which is a category all on its own. You may be eligible as a qualifying relative if you are the:
- Unmarried son or daughter, 21 years of age and older, of a U.S. citizen called First preference (F1);
- Spouse of a legal permanent resident or the children (unmarried and under 21 years of age) of the lawful permanent resident under this category. This category is called Second preference (F2A) -;
- Unmarried son or daughter, 21 years of age and older, of lawful permanent residents called Second preference (F2B);
- Married son or daughter of a U.S. citizen called Third preference (F3); and
- Brother or sister of a U.S. citizen (if the U.S. citizen is 21 years of age and older) called Fourth preference (F4).
Your relative must first sponsor you by filing a petition with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service. You must prove eligibility by attaching the required documentation and evidence of the family relationship. Any follow up action on the application depends on where you are and other eligibility criteria. Derivatives can also be included in the application, which includes the children (under 21 and unmarried) of the primary immigrant.
Adjustment of Status Process
If you are located in the United States, you may be able to submit an adjustment of status application. Generally, to be eligible for an adjustment of status (AOS) you must have current legal status, a visa must be available to you at the time the AOS application is submitted and there must be no admissibility problems or bars to adjustment of status. Therefore, you cannot adjust status with an undocumented status or if a visa is not available to you unless an exception applies.
Once you establish eligibility for AOS, you’ll submit the petition or notice of approved petition (I-797C) and the adjustment of status application. After properly submitting the AOS application, you’ll attend a biometrics appointment and then the final interview some months or years later. The length of time to process the application depends on the current processing times.
Before applying for the green card through the adjustment of status process you should make sure that this is the right process for you. For instance, you should make sure there are no bars to an adjustment of status and no admissibility issues. You must also ensure that you properly prepare the Affidavit of Support and complete the medical examination.
The Affidavit of Support is a contract your relative or a joint sponsor will sign guaranteeing that they will support you for ten years after you get your green card or until you become a United States citizen. The officer will only accept the Affidavit of Support if your relative meets the income requirements based on the current poverty guidelines. You should also consider applying for employment authorization and advanced parole. Advanced parole will allow you to travel outside of the United States during the adjustment of status application process. Each of the pieces of this process can get complicated. If you miss something or make mistakes, it could mean a delayed process or even a denial. It is important to tread carefully and be meticulous through this process.
If you are outside of the United States, and the USCIS approves the petition, you will go through consular processing and a final interview at the embassy in your home country. Generally, your relative will submit the petition at the USCIS. If approved, the USCIS sends the approved petition to the National Visa Center when a visa becomes available. The time it takes for a visa to become a available varies depending on the family based category. To get an idea of processing times, you should review the National Visa Bulletin. Once a visa becomes available, the National Visa Center then corresponds with you to provide documentation, the Affidavit of Support, fee payments and to complete the DS-260 immigrant visa application. Then the embassy in your home country schedules the final interview and provides you instructions to do the medical examination and obtain a police certificate in your country. The officer will review all documentation and your application at the final interview and inform you of the decision at the interview.
When considering whether to go through with this type of green card application, it is important to take other circumstances and factors into consideration. Failing to do this may cause complications in the application process. For instance, any facts that involve previous denials, past immigration and criminal violations, previous marriages that involved filings, entry with other types of visas, tax issues, visa overstays, and previous employment in the United States can be just as important as the basic eligibility criteria. A single criminal violation, whether a misdemeanor or more serious, can lead you to be inadmissible to the United States, which may require additional steps to get a green card, such as a waiver.
It is important to consult an experienced immigration attorney to assist you with your case. An attorney will help to guide you through preparing the petition, assist with gathering evidence, and advocate vigorously for you during the process. Here at ST Law Office, I have dedicated my practice solely to immigration matters. I vigorously advocate no matter how simple or complicated the matter. Don’t hesitate to call us at 561-405-4889 or to schedule your initial phone, online or in-person consultation now.