We have written posts in the past about what exactly a green card is and how you can apply for one. One of the ways is of course via the Green Card Lottery, then there is the more common employer sponsored green cards if you are on a visa like the H1B visa or E3 Visa and also the more difficult EB-5 visa category for foreigners starting a business.
However the most common are the family sponsored Green Cards. Whether that be via the K-1 visa where a US citizen chooses to marry someone from another country within the US, via the K-3 visa where a US citizen has already married a foreigner abroad and is looking to bring them to the US or the one which we will discuss today which is family sponsored green cards for immediate relatives like parents, older children and adult siblings.
These are generally not subject to numerical limits (possibly with exception of adult siblings) and also have the lowest processing times which is sometimes as short as 5 months, which in US Immigration world is like lightning 🙂
To qualify and be eligible to sponsor what the US Immigration system deems an immediate relative to be, you must (a) Prove you are a US citizen (or legal Permanent Resident with a Green Card) with documentation such as a US Passport or Naturalization Certificate and (b) Be above a designated income threshold and thus have the ability to support the relative you are sponsoring at 125% above the mandated poverty line.
The process can be quite involved which is why unfortunately in my opinion so many people become hopelessly lost and because they desperately want the application to have no issues are forced into the greedy waiting arms of an Immigration Attorney. Suddenly and sadly a fundamental human right in a free society like a family reunion now has a financial tag and burden which says a lot about the current US Immigration system.
- Essentially this step is a lot of what I mentioned above in that it has to proved that the sponsor is a US Citizen or Permanent resident, then that an immediate family relationship does exist and finally that the immediate relative is essentially of good character (i.e. not a criminal or threat to US, etc.)
- Most often, the U.S. citizen or permanent resident will file an immigrant visa petition on Form I-130 (Petition for Alien Relative)
- It is also possible to concurrently file the immigrant visa petition and the application for permanent residence on behalf of the relative themselves in certain family sponsored cases, This is filed on Form I-485 and called an adjustment of status usually when the relative is already in the country legally. However this is not always the case as with US citizens for example marrying illegal aliens as the US Immigration system calls them, which are generally people who came here illegally or over stayed their original non-immigrant visa like the J-1 visa. The biggest advantage of adjusting status is the ability of the immediate relative to get the permanent status i.e. green card without having to leave the United States. Now this is where they system becomes skewed to favoring the use of Immigration attorneys where the immediate relative may not be a “perfect” candidate.
The benefits of a Green Card or Permanent Residency are essentially boiled down to 3 main areas;
– Be able to study at any institution or work for any employer or indeed choose not to work/study
– Be able to come into and leave the US any time and any number of times
– Have the future possibility to apply for US Citizenship