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Family-based Immigration

The most common way for someone to become a lawful permanent resident is through a relationship with a U.S. citizen or a lawful permanent resident.  The U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident sponsors the relative.  This is done mostly through an I-130 petition.  However, it can also be done for fiancé(e)s and the children of fiancé(e)s.

 

Petitions for Alien Relatives

U.S. citizens may sponsor a spouse, parents, sons/daughters over and under age 21 (married and unmarried) and siblings for a green card. 

Permanent residents may sponsor a spouse, children under age 21 and unmarried sons/daughter over age 21. 

Step-children qualify as a son/daughter if the parent's re-marriage occurred prior to the son/daughter's 18th birthday, regardless the current age of the son/daughter.

 

 

 

 

 

 

To sponsor a relative, you must have a household income at least 125% of federal poverty guidelines.  If you do not meet the income requirements, a joint sponsor will be needed.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Individuals seeking a green card through a family relationship go through one of two processes: adjustment of status or consular processing.  Which process your family member will use depends on the following:

  • If they entered the U.S. on a visa, whether they are immediate relatives.

  • If they entered the U.S. illegally, whether an I-130 petition was filed before April 30, 2001.

Immediate relatives are the spouses, parents and unmarried children of U.S. citizens.  Other relatives are preference relatives.

Fiancé(e) Visa

If you are the fiancé(e) of a U.S. citizen, you are eligible for a K-1 visa to enter the U.S. to get married.  

After you enter the US., the marriage must take place within 90 days.   After marriage, you apply for a permanent residency visa through adjustment of status.

If you have children under age 21, they are eligible for a K-2 visa.

 

Adjustment of Status (AOS)

If you entered the U.S. on a visa and married a U.S. citizen or you are the unmarried child of a U.S. citizen or you are the parent of a U.S. citizen, you may be eligible to get a green card through adjustment of status (AOS) even if your visa has expired.  To qualify as a child, you must be under age 21 years. 

If you are eligible for AOS, you have your immigration interview here in the U.S., not in your home country.

When you file for AOS, you can file for an employment authorization card as well and will be authorized to work within approximately 90 days. 

If you want to travel outside the U.S. while going through adjustment of status, you must have an advance parole travel document, which takes 60 days to process.  If you travel outside the U.S. without a travel document, your adjustment of status application will be declared abandoned and you may have a difficult time re-entering the U.S. Not everyone is eligible for a travel document.  If you are not eligible, you must remain in the U.S. until you have a green card.   

It usually takes about 4-5 months to get a green card    through AOS.

Typically people who entered the country illegally and people who are classed as "preference relatives" are not eligible for AOS with one exception: a relative (or employer) filed a petition for them before April 30, 2001.  This is known as having 245(i) protection.

 

Consular Processing (CP)

If the relative you want to sponsor is outside the U.S. or entered the country illegally, they will get a green card through consular processing, i.e. by going to the U.S. consulate closest to their home to have their immigration interview.

The I-130 petition gets filed with USCIS.  After it is approved, the petition is transferred the National Visa Center.

How long it takes your relative to arrive in the U.S. depends on their relationship to you.  Waiting times for a green card vary depending on the citizenship status of the sponsor and the relationship between the sponsor and the relative.  A spouse, children under 21 and parents of a U.S. citizen have immediate visas available and usually arrive within a year after the application is filed.  Other relatives much longer.

 

VAWA Petitions

A VAWA petition is similar to the I-130 petition except it does not require a family sponsor.  The immigrant sponsors himself or herself based on a marital or parent/child relationship with a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident.  The immigrant must prove the relationship is abusive.

Domestic violence is a serious problem for immigrants.  Immigrants who are being abused are reluctant to report domestic violence to the authorities for fear that their abuser will withdraw an immigrant visa application.  Many are economically dependent on their abuser and are handicapped in their ability to enter the workforce to support themselves, either because they have limited English or because they do not have work authorization. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Some VAWA applicants are available for immediate work authorization but others have to wait until the VAWA petition is approved.  VAWA applicants may also be eligible for certain public benefits.

Blackwell Law Group, S.C. ●  700 W. Virginia St., Suite 307 ● Milwaukee, WI 53204 ● (414) 964-1900

 

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The information you obtain at this site is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. You should consult an attorney for individual advice regarding your own situation.