Family-based immigration can help you obtain a green card and become a lawful permanent resident of the United States. The majority of people who legally immigrate to the United States each year do so through family-based immigration. To be eligible, you need two family members that fit the following two roles:
- A Petitioner
- A Beneficiary
The petitioner is a family member who is either a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident (green card holder). The beneficiary is a family member of the petitioner and is a citizen of a foreign country. The beneficiary is someone who wishes to immigrate to the United States by obtaining a “green card” or lawful permanent resident status.
Who Is Eligible
To be eligible, you must fall into one of the following categories: immediate relatives or the family preference category. These are the types of people who classify as immediate relatives:
- Someone married to a U.S. citizen/legal permanent resident
- Children (under 21) of U.S. citizens/legal permanent residents
- Adopted children from a foreign country
- Parents of a U.S. citizen/legal permanent resident (21 or older)
After reading this list, it is essential to note that a legal permanent resident or a U.S. citizen cannot sponsor a non-immediate family member such as grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins.
However, there are still people you can sponsor that fit into one of the four family preference categories:
- Unmarried children of the petitioner (21 and over)
- (a) Spouse or children (under 21) of a petitioner who has a green card—(b) unmarried children (21 and over) of the petitioner who holds a green card
- Married children of U.S. citizens
- Siblings of U.S. citizens (and the citizen must be over 21)
This process begins with the petitioner filing a request with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). By submitting the request, the petitioner is formally asking for you to immigrate to this country. And your relationship with the petitioner will be established. You may already be living here as a visitor when this happens. If you obtain a green card, your status will simply change. Anyone who doesn’t live here will continue the application process through a U.S. embassy or consulate where they live.
The process to obtain a green card could take months or years. There are no limits on the number of visas issued to immediate family members. However, for extended family members, there are 480,000 visas issued per year.
Due to the limited number of visas available and the need for accuracy, you should strongly consider consulting an attorney before filing. Why? Because attorneys are paid to be detailed and accurate. Most importantly, attorneys keep up-to-date on the applicable but ever-changing rules and regulations about immigraiton. Don’t cause delays to a process that is already long. Do it once, and do it correctly.
If you are trying to help, a family member immigrate to the United States, contact Zafiro Law to schedule a consultation. Your family is important to you, and this is why we are so dedicated to our clients. Let our legal experience be your path to a reunited family.