Family-Sponsored Immigrants

If you are related to a U.S. Citizen or legal permanent resident you may be eligible to apply for your green card. The process for obtaining legal permanent residency through your relative can be divided into five different classes – one is available to an immediate relative of a U.S. Citizen and the others are divided into four different preference categories.

Immediate relative:  

Immigration defines an immediate relative as:

  1. A spouse of a U.S. Citizen
  2. A child of a U.S. Citizen (child is defined as under the age of 21 and unmarried).
  3. A parent of a U.S. Citizen (the child must be at least 21 years old if applying for a parent).  

If an immediate relative applicant is physically present in the U.S., he or she can file while remaining in the U.S. through a process called adjustment of status.  If the immediate relative applicant is abroad, they can file through the consulate office in their country of residency. Since immediate relatives are not subject to a numerical limit, an applicant will not be subject to a wait period and will receive an interview date to receive his or her green card generally between 3 - 6 months. Keep in mind that processing times vary greatly and this time frame can change on a case to case basis.

Preference Categories:

The remaining four categories are divided into four preferences. When you petition for your relative, you will receive a notice from USCIS assigning your petition with a priority date. This priority date means that your application will begin being processed as soon as the date assigned by the visa bulletin on your category is prior to your priority date. The categories are as follows:  

  1. First Preference: unmarried sons and daughters* of US Citizens.
  2. Second Preference: the second preference category is divided into two subcategories:

2a. Spouses and unmarried children* of legal permanent residents.

2b. Unmarried sons and daughters of legal permanent residents.

  1. Third Preference: married sons and daughters of U.S. Citizens.
  2. Fourth Preference: brothers and sisters of U.S. Citizens.

*the term “child” or “children” is defined as a child under the age of 21 whereas the term “son and daughter” is defined as a child over the age of 21.  

If you qualify in any of the aforementioned categories and are interested in applying for U.S. residency, please contact Baur & Klein, PA to assist you with the application process.

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The process of Naturalization – are you eligible and should you apply?

Permanent residents may be eligible to apply for U.S. Citizenship if the following basic requirements are met:  

  1. you are at least 18 years old
  2. you have continuously resided in the U.S. as a permanent resident for at least five years (or 3 if residency is acquired through marriage to a U.S. Citizen);
  3. you have been physically present in the U.S. for at least 2 ½ years out of the last 5 years (or 1 ½ if residency is acquired through marriage to a U.S. Citizen); and
  4. you have resided in the state in which your citizen application will be filed for at least 3 months before you apply.

In addition, you will also need to show that you have a good moral character as well as pass a simple English literacy and civics test.

Keep in mind that it is not always in your best interest to apply for naturalization.  For instance, the application requires that the applicant disclose all trips taken outside of the United States since becoming a legal permanent resident. If you have left the U.S. for a longer period of time, you may have inadvertently and unknowingly abandoned your permanent residency. Not only will your application be denied, but you may find yourself in a position where you lose your permanent residency as well. For this reason, it is strongly encouraged to retain the assistance of an attorney when applying for your U.S. Citizenship.

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