Green card through Marriage & Family
Two major ways through which you can obtain permanent residence or immigrant green card status is either by a family green card or a marriage green card. Your sponsor must be a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident (green card holder). The sponsor must first file an I-130 petition for you. You can immigrate to the United States either as an immediate relative of a U.S. citizen (no caps or quotas) or through the family preference system which is governed by caps and annual numerical quotas.
Immediate relatives of US citizens are: a spouse, an unmarried minor children and a parent if the U.S. citizen is 21 or older. Some persons may have more than one green card option available. It is therefore necessary to evaluate your immigration options to determine which one would be fastest and most advantageous. Working with a green card lawyer can significantly speed up the time for getting permanent residence and permanent employment in the United States.
If you are applying to immigrate to the United States you must be admissible. If you have certain past criminal convictions, misrepresentation to obtain a visa, unlawful presence, false claim to U.S. citizenship, you may be inadmissible. This means you may be barred from obtaining a green card or immigrating unless a waiver is available and the Attorney General approves a waiver for you.
Green card through Marriage – Spouse
A person in a bona-fide marriage to a U.S. citizen may be eligible for a green card. If the marriage is less than two years old at the time the person is granted a green card the person will receive a 2 year “conditional permanent resident card”. This means that the conditional resident status will terminate unless the person files a joint or waiver petition to remove conditions on residence on form I-751 within 90 days before the green card expires. Despite the best intentions some marriage may end in divorce, annulment or separation.
Depending on the circumstances a person may still be able to remain a permanent resident despite the breakdown of the marriage.
If the person was lawfully admitted to the United States, the person may obtain a green card by a one step process which involves the filing an immigration petition by the U.S. citizen at the same time as the person’s application for a green card.
There is a two-step process for a person outside the United States to become an immigrant. This process is involves processing at a U.S. consulate abroad. First, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) must approve a petition filed by the U.S. citizen. In most cases no interview is required of the U.S. petitioner but interviews at a USCIS local office may be involved in a minority of cases. Second, if the person is outside the United States the National Visa Center will notify the person to complete processing for an immigrant visa. A person who is inspected and lawfully admitted to the United States with a valid immigrant visa is a permanent resident upon admission.
Following the U.S. Supreme Court decision in the landmark case, United States v. Windsor, a marriage between same sex couples, is also valid for immigration purposes.
Family Green Card for a Parent
Parents of U.S. citizens (21 or older) can obtain a green card. Parents may include adoptive parents and stepparents even if the marriage creating the step-parent relationship has ended. A non-genetic gestational mother (person who carried and gave birth to the child) who is also the child’s legal mother at birth may now be recognized in the same way as genetic legal mothers are treated under the INA. In some cases blood tests, proof of cohabitation and support may be necessary to prove the parent-child relationship.
If the parent was lawfully admitted to the United States, the person may obtain a green card by a one step process which involves the filing of an immigration petition by the U.S. citizen son or daughter at the same time as the parent’s application for a green card.
There is a two-step process for a parent outside the United States to become an immigrant. First, the USCIS must approve a petition filed by the U.S. citizen. Second, the United States the National Visa Center will notify the parent to complete processing for an immigrant visa which will be issued at a U.S. Consulate abroad. A parent who is inspected and lawfully admitted to the United States with a valid immigrant visa is a permanent resident upon admission.
Family Green Card for Child under 21
An unmarried person under 21 who is the child of a U.S. citizen can obtain a green card. The person is a child for immigration purposes if the definition of a child under Section 101 (b) of the INA is satisfied. Child may include legitimate child (born in wedlock), legitimated child (born out of wedlock), step-child, adopted child or orphan if specific requirements are met for each category of child. For a step-parent U.S. to immigrate a child the marriage creating the step parent must have occurred before the child was 18 years old.
While a mother may petition for the immigration of her child for whom she was the legal mother at birth, the rules are different for fathers. For a natural father to immigrate a child born out of wedlock, legal custody and legitimation of the child must occur before age 18. A biological father may petition for an illegitimate child if a bona-fide parent-child relationship existed before age 21. Ties of blood are not enough. To establish a “bona fide parent-child relationship,” there should be a showing that the father and child at some point actually lived together, or that the father held out the child as his own, or that he provided for some or all of the child’s needs, or that in general the father’s behavior evidenced genuine concern for and interest in the child. See Matter of Vizcaino, 19 I & N Dec. 644 (BIA 1988).
Family Green Card for Siblings
A person who is the sibling (brother or sister) of an adult U.S. citizen can obtain a green card through the sibling relationship. The person and the U.S. citizen must have at least one parent in common. The immigration process for siblings is a three-step process. First, the USCIS must approve a petition filed by the U.S. citizen. Second, the priority date of the immigrant visa petition receipt must become earlier than the cut-off date for sibling petitions on the visa bulletin of the U.S. State Department. This means that a visa number is available and processing of the immigrant visa application can begin. Third, if the person is outside the United States when an immigrant visa number becomes available, the National Visa Center will notify the person to complete processing for an immigrant visa which will be issued at a U.S. Consulate abroad.
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The above are just come of the main family green card categories under the law. Want to live permanently in the United States? You should be aware that just being married to a US citizen or lawful permanent resident or having qualifying family in the US does not give you an inherent right to an approval and legal residency in the United States.
Please contact our Nevada immigration firm and Attorney Gary Goodin for a detailed review of your case before filing applications and petitions. We can also help you with issues related to family based green cards or permanent resident status such as complex removal of conditions on residence and fiance visas. Our service even includes attorney representation at interviews at the USCIS office in Las Vegas, Nevada.