San Diego, CA Family-Based Green Card Immigration Lawyers
If you are a United States citizen, either through birth or naturalization, you may petition to have certain family members gain green card status and ultimately citizenship. In addition, U.S. green card holders may also sponsor family members for the permanent residency status. In fact, family-based immigration is the most common and popular way that foreign citizens secure permanent residency in the U.S.
Family-Based Immigration for Immediate Relatives
Obtaining a green card is easiest for immediate relatives. This includes:
- Your spouse.
- Your unmarried children under the age of 21.
- Your parents (if you are 21 year old or older).
- Your stepparents (if they were married before you turned 18).
- Your stepchildren (if you were married before they turned 18).
- Your adopted children (if they were adopted before age 16).
Although there is no annual limit to how many green cards are given out to the immediate family members of U.S. citizens, there are several requirements that must be met. For example, the citizen must be able to prove that they can support their family and keep them 125 percent above the poverty line. The sponsor must also prove his or her legal status as a citizen as well as his or her relationship to the petitioner.
Family-Based Immigration for Other Relatives
More distant relatives may be able to attain permanent residency through a U.S. citizen sponsor or permanent resident sponsor. In addition, immediate family members of permanent residents can also attain permanent residency. This is referred to as the “family preference category.” There are 480,000 green cards distributed through this program each year.
These green cards are awarded based on preference:
- The unmarried sons and daughters of U.S. citizens over the age of 21.
- The spouses and unmarried children under the age of 21 of permanent residents.
- The married adult sons and daughters of U.S. citizens.
- The siblings of U.S. citizens
These green cards are given out in the order that relatives apply for them, so the sooner that a person applies, the sooner their green card may be granted. The wait time to receive a green card varies widely, from 3 to 24 years.
The Family-Based Green Card Application Process
Applying for a family-based green card is similar whether you are an immediate family member of a U.S. citizen or whether you are another type of relative. First, your sponsor must fill out Form I-130: Petition for Alien Relative. In addition to this form, your sponsor will need to include this documentation and information:
- Evidence that the sponsor is a legal citizen or green card holder.
- Evidence that you are related to your sponsor.
- Proof of any legal name changes that have taken place in your past.
- The application filing fee.
Processing times for the application vary from a few months to many years. Once your petition is approved, you will wait in line for visa processing. Note that you will need to notify USCIS if your status changes while you are waiting for approval. For example, if you filed as an unmarried child but married after you submitted your visa, you will need to adjust your status.
California Immigration Attorneys at Feldman Feldman & Associates
Whether you would like to sponsor a family member or whether you are seeking a green card yourself, the attorneys at Feldman Feldman & Associates can assist you with all of the legal aspects of the process, from understanding U.S. immigration law to applying for permanent residency.
We offer private consultations with skilled, knowledgeable attorneys. To schedule your appointment today, or to simply ask a question about family-based immigration, call us today.