Family Based Permanent Residency – Preference Categories
To “reunite families” has always been an important concept in immigration law. United States Permanent Resident Cards, also known as “Green Cards”, permits an alien to reside and get an employment in the country on a permanent basis without conferring U.S. Citizenship. Those individuals holding a Green card are allowed to live and get a permanent employment in the United States. There are several ways to be eligible for a Green Card. It is advised to learn about the different criteria of eligibility for Green Cards and to decide the best possible ways to prepare for your application. The Green Card application process also depends whether the applicant is going to apply within the United States or from abroad. One of the ways many foreign nationals confer permanent residency status is through family-based immigration.
Before we begin on the journey of family-based immigration, it is important to note that there are two types of family-based immigration, those involving immediate relatives and then there is everybody else. An analogy might be if you are a member of a particular airline’s elite or premier program. You might enjoy special privileges such as priority boarding and VIP treatment.
Immediate relatives are discussed elsewhere on this website, so the following discussion will focus on the “other people” who are not fortunate enough to become immediate relatives.
To obtain permanent residence based on a family petition, the petition must be filed by a relative who is either a US citizen or a lawfully permanent resident. The term “relatives” specifies either a parent, spouse or child over age 21. Grandparents, aunts, uncles, in-laws and cousins cannot sponsor a relative for immigration. They can, however,act as a co-sponsors for purposes of the affidavit of support requirements.
To sponsor a relative to immigrate to the United States, you must first meet these following criteria:
Be a citizen or a lawful permanent resident (green card) of the United States and be able to provide documentation proving your status.
Prove that you can support your relative at 125% above the mandated poverty line.
The Preference Categories for Family Based Immigration are as follows:
First preference: unmarried sons and daughters (over 21 years of age) of US citizen (and their children)
Second Preference: spouses, minor children, and unmarried children over the age of 21 of lawful permanent residents
Third Preference: married sons and daughters of US citizens (and their spouse and children)
Fourth Preference: brothers and sisters of US citizens, if the citizen is at least 21 or older
Your case will begin with the filing of Form I-130, which must be filed by a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident. If you are in the United States, you may be able to file for permanent residence in conjunction with the Form I-130 and be entitled to employment authorization and permission to travel while the applications are processed.
Once USCIS receives the visa petition, either it will be approved or denied. USCIS will then notify the person who filed the visa petition if the visa petition is approved. USCIS will send the approved visa petition to the Department of State’s National Visa Center, where it will remain until an immigrant visa number is available. The Center will notify you, the foreign national, when the visa petition is received and again when an immigrant visa number is available. The sponsoring relative does not need to contact the National Visa Center, unless they have changed their address or there is a change in their personal situation or that of your foreign national relative that may affect eligibility for an immigrant visa, such as reaching age 21, marriage, divorce, or death of a spouse.
To find out more about the procedural steps involved and an estimate of fees, call or email us today for your free in-depth consultation!