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Green Card for a Family Member of a U.S. Citizen

U.S. citizens who want their relatives to immigrate to the United States can file a Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, for their spouse, children and if the U.S. citizen is at least 21 years old, their parents and brothers or sisters.

If your relationship does not qualify you as an “immediate relative” (spouse, unmarried children under the age of 21, and parents) of a U.S. citizen, then you may be in what is called a “family preference category.” Eligible relatives include:

1 Unmarried sons or daughters over the age of 21

2 Married child(ren) of any age

3 Brothers and sisters (if the U.S. citizen petitioner is over the age of 21)

Congress has limited the number of relatives who may immigrate under these categories each year so there is usually a waiting period before an immigrant visa number becomes available.

Get a Green Card While Inside the United States

If you are currently in the United States and are one of the specified categories of relatives of a U.S. citizen in a preference category, you may be able to become a permanent resident in two steps.

1 Step One – Your U.S. citizen family member (sponsor) must file the Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, for you and it must be approved. You must wait for your priority date in your immigrant visa category to become current. Your priority date is the date when the Form I-130 is properly filed (with correct fee and signature) on your behalf by your U.S. citizen relative.

2 Step Two – Once the priority date in your visa category is current, you may file for Adjustment of Status with Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status. Adjustment of Status is the process you go through to become a Permanent Resident.

Get a Green Card While Outside the United States

If you are currently outside the United States and are one of the specified categories of relatives of a U.S. citizen in a preference category, you can become a permanent resident through consular processing. Consular processing is when we work with the U.S. Department of State to issue a visa on an approved Form I-130 petition when a visa is available. In this process the Department of State will issue you a visa. If approved, you may then travel on the visa and will officially become a permanent resident when admitted at a U.S. port of entry.

Important things to keep in mind:

1 The Child Status Protection Act (CSPA). In certain cases, the CSPA may allow you to retain the classification of “child” even if you have reached age 21. Generally, your age is “frozen” as of the date your U.S. citizen parent files Form I-130 for you.

How to Qualify for CSPA

Immediate Relative

• If the petition (Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative) was filed by a U.S. citizen parent for his or her child, the beneficiary’s age “freezes” on the date of filing.

• If the petition (Form I-130) was filed by a permanent resident parent and the parent naturalizes before the beneficiary turns 21, the beneficiary’s age “freezes” on the date the petitioner naturalized.

Preference Classification for Permanent Residence or Derivative

• CSPA allows the time a visa petition was pending to be subtracted from the beneficiary’s biological age at the time of visa availability so that the applicant is not penalized for the time in which USCIS did not adjudicate the petition.

2 Getting Married. If you are the unmarried son or daughter of a U.S. citizen and you get married prior to becoming a permanent resident, then you no longer qualify as an “Unmarried Son or Daughter of a U.S. Citizen” and will convert to the category of “Married Son or Daughter of a U.S. Citizen.” This change in categories may result in a significant delay in your immigrant visa becoming available. You must notify us of any change in your marital status after Form I-130 has been filed for you and prior to becoming a permanent resident or obtaining an immigrant visa.

It is of significant importance that an experienced and knowledgeable immigration lawyer is retained to protect your interest as that can make all the difference in the world. At Bhagwati and Associates, P.L.L.C., it is our top most priority to protect our clients’ best interest by providing experienced, knowledgeable, and aggressive representation, while making sure that each of our client gets the successful results and no client of ours is unjustly treated, deported or removed from the United States or is precluded from coming to the United states.

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