Many immigrants to the United States have an ultimate goal of getting a ‘green card’ and becoming a Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR). There are several ways to do this, but the most common is to be sponsored by a relative who is already a U.S. citizen or permanent resident. A good immigration attorney can also make the process smoother and less confusing.
There are four categories into which you can fall that make you eligible to apply for permanent residence through a relative. These categories are:
- Immediate relative of a U.S. citizen (spouses, unmarried children, parents);
- A family member of a U.S. citizen who falls into a preference category (brothers and sisters of U.S. citizens, unmarried children over 21, married children of any age);
- A family member of a green card holder, which does include spouses and unmarried children; or
- A member of a special category (such as battered spouses under VAWA, the holder of a K-visa, or a widow/er of a U.S. citizen).
All the categories, except that of immediate relatives (First Preference), have priority dates – the date that an applicant’s petition was filed properly with the appropriate agency – and quotas. Because of the overwhelming number of people who want to apply for immigrant visas each year, the U.S. State Department has instituted quotas; and, because of these quotas, each application is placed in order of its filing (priority date).
Immediate relatives have no quotas or priority dates, however; in the interest of promoting family unity, the number of petitions accepted each year for spouses, unmarried children and parents of U.S. citizens is unlimited.
Other than the quota and priority date system, the application for permanent residence is not unlike any other visa application. The I-130, Petition for Alien Relative must be completed and filed by the U.S. citizen sponsor, and once it is in process, the alien relative must submit the appropriate documents (for example, their foreign passport, their part of the immigrant visa application, and an affidavit that shows the foreign national will be supported in the U.S.), and fees. After a visa interview, a final decision will be made, and a visa or a denial will be issued.
Your visa is only valid for one entry into the United States. After you enter and have your documents checked, an official green card or Lawful Permanent Resident card will be mailed to you.
Be advised that permanent resident status is revocable if you commit a crime that would make you removable under immigration law. Many people think it is somehow impossible to lose LPR status, and that is not the case. If you commit an aggravated felony, you will most likely become removable.
The path to permanent residence is confusing and can be difficult. Do not hesitate to contact the Dowe Law Firm today. We serve Contra Costa, Solano and Alameda counties. We can be reached at 510-233-7700 or by email at email@example.com