Family Based Immigration Attorney
More than 1.1 million people were granted legal permanent residence (Green Card) in the 2018 fiscal year according to the Service Citizenship and US immigration Services (USCIS). A significant number of these new Green Card holders were awarded for the purpose of family reunification.
The reason for this is that United States immigration system acknowledges the importance of family for immigrants.
A number of people have gotten LPR status because of this kind of immigration. Family based immigration often involves an immigrant green card holder sponsoring a family member. The speed with which an applicant will be awarded a green card depends of the status of the sponsor. But since it can take up to six months to get a green card, the family member waiting for the green card is generally awarded a family-based visa. This allows them to enter the United States but only temporarily.
Family Preference Immigrant Visas
If you are not an “immediate family member” of a U.S. citizen and you want to immigrate to the United States with a family Sponsor, family preference categories apply to you. These categories can be defined as methods used to distribute green cards by the United States. The higher the preference category the shorter the time it will take for a family member to get a visa. There are five preference categories and they include:
- First preference (F1): Unmarried adult sons, and daughters of U.S. citizens
- Second preference(F2A): unmarried minors under 21 years of age and spouse of permanent residents
- Second-preference (F2B): unmarried children of permanent residents who are age 21 years or older
- Third preference (F3): married daughters and sons of any age of U.S. citizens
- Fourth preference(F4): sisters and brothers of U.S. citizens over 21 years old
So if you are a green card holder and want to sponsor your spouse to receive a green card, the preference category will be the Second Preference (2A). However, if your status has changed to U.S. citizen the preference category for your spouse will change to “immediate relative”. Immediate relative is defined as:
- A spouse of a U.S. citizen
- The unmarried children under 21 years of age of a U.S. citizen
- A parent of a U.S. citizen that is at least 21 years old
There is currently no provision for family members to live in the United States while the visa petition of their sponsor is pending.
Applying For A Green Card
People with LPR (Green Card) status, enjoy most of the rights and have the most of the responsibilities of regular citizens of the United States. For example, they are free to serve in the military and free to travel within and outside of the United States. However, they cannot vote and may lose their permanent citizen status if convicted of a crime. When a citizen or permanent resident want to apply for a green card for a family member, they have to show the following conditions to be eligible sponsors:
- They must prove that they are either a citizen or permanent resident of the United States
- Provide evidence that prove their relationship with the family member they want to sponsor such as marriage certificate, birth certificate or other documents
- Sponsors must provide proof of any legal name change for themselves or for the person they want to sponsor