Columbus, Ohio Immigration Lawyer
Family reunification has long been an important concept in immigration law. If you want to come to the United States to live permanently, you must meet certain U.S. visa requirements based on your relationship with a U.S. citizen or a lawful permanent resident who is in the U.S. There are various routes to obtaining lawful permanent residency in the U.S. based on family relationships.
The family based green card process can be difficult and complex. You must pay attention to the definitions, deadlines, and interplay of numerous provisions affecting your application. This article is a basic guide of the framework for the family-based green card requirements.
Immediate Relatives of U.S. Citizen
Immediate relative immigrant visas are U.S. visas that are based on a close family relationship with a U.S. citizen. If you are an immediate relative of a U.S. citizen, you can apply for a green card without having to wait for an immigrant visa to become available. In other words, immediate relatives of a U.S. citizen do not have to wait to immigrate to the United States because they are not subject to the fiscal year limitations. The following is a list of immediate relative visa types:
- Spouse of a U.S. citizen
- Unmarried children (under 21 years of age) of a U.S. citizen
- Orphan adopted abroad by a U.S. citizen
- Orphan to be adopted in the U.S. by a U.S. citizen
- Parent of a U.S. citizen who is at least 21 years old
Other Family Members of U.S. Citizen or Lawful Permanent Resident
Family preference immigrant visas are U.S. visas that are for more distant family relationships with U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident. There are fiscal year limitations on the number of family preference immigrants. In other words, these family members must wait for an immigrant visa to become available to immigrate to the U.S. Your wait time depends on the preference category. The higher the preference, the less time you will wait. The following is a list of family preference categories:
- First Preference (F1): Unmarried, adult sons and daughters of U.S. citizens (adult means over 21 years of age)
- Second Preference (F2): Spouses, unmarried children (under 21 years of age), and unmarried, adult sons and daughters of lawful permanent residents
- Third Preference (F3): Married sons and daughters (any age) of U.S. citizens
- Fourth Preference (F4): Brothers and sisters of U.S. citizens, and their spouses and minor children.
Steps in Family-Based Green Card Process
First, your relative must file Form I-130 Petition for Alien Relative, with supporting documentation to establish the relationship between you and your relative. Unless you are an immediate relative of a U.S. citizen, the Form I-130 generally must be approved by USCIS prior to filing for your green card. Second, in most cases, your sponsoring relative will need to complete and sign an Affidavit of Support that demonstrates they have adequate means of financial support and that they are not likely to rely on the U.S. government for financial support. After these steps are complete, you will apply for the immigrant visa.
Practice Pointer: Same-sex spouses of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents, along with their minor children, are now eligible for the same immigration benefits as opposite-sex spouses. For more information refer to the Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs list of FAQs.
Immigration Lawyer in Columbus, Ohio
Family-Based Green Card Representation
Porter Law Office, LLC assists foreign nationals with securing U.S. visas, green cards, or U.S. citizenship based on family. Columbus immigration lawyer Matthew R. Porter has experience with the family based green card and U.S. visa requirements. Contact Mr. Porter today for free consultation to discuss your family based green card options.
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