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Immigration FAQs

If you are currently outside the United States and are one of the specified categories of relatives of a U.S. citizen in a preference category, you can become a permanent resident through consular processing. Consular processing is when USCIS works with the U.S. Department of State to issue a visa on an approved petition when a visa is available. In this process the Department of State will issue you a visa. If approved, you may then travel on the visa and will officially become a permanent resident when admitted at a U.S. port of entry. Getting married may or may not have tremendous consequences when it comes to immigration. If you are the unmarried son or daughter of a U.S. citizen and you get married prior to becoming a permanent resident, then you no longer qualify as an Unmarried Son or Daughter of a U.S. Citizen and will convert to the category of a Married Son or Daughter of a U.S. Citizen. This change in categories may result in a significant delay in your immigrant visa becoming available.
Many clients struggle with the decision of leaving their loved ones to return to their native country or violate U.S. Immigration Laws. Victory Law’s Attorneys may be able to help you never have to leave your loved ones again and stay in compliance with U.S. Immigration Laws at the same time. If you are currently in the United States and are one of the specified categories of relatives of a U.S. citizen in a preference category, you may be able to become a permanent resident in two steps:
  • Your U.S. citizen family member (sponsor) must file the Petition for Alien Relative, for you and it must be approved. You must wait for your priority date in your immigrant visa category to become current. Your priority date is the date when the Petition for Alien Relative is properly filed (with correct fee and signature) on your behalf by your U.S. citizen relative.
  • Once the priority date in your visa category is current, you may file for Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status. Adjustment of Status is the process you go through to become a Permanent Resident or to get your Green Card.
There are several different options that you may be eligible for to obtain your lawful permanent resident card or green card which may lead to citizenship:
  • an immediate relative of a U.S. citizen, this includes spouses, unmarried children under the age of 21, and parents of U.S. citizen petitioners 21 or older
  • a family member of a U.S. citizen fitting into a preference category, this includes unmarried sons or daughters over the age of 21, married children of any age, and brothers and sisters of U.S. citizen petitioners 21 or older
  • a family member of a green card holder, this includes spouses and unmarried children of the sponsoring green card holder
  • a member of a special category, this can include battered spouse or child (VAWA), a K nonimmigrant, a person born to a foreign diplomat in the United States, a V nonimmigrant or a widow(er) of a U.S. Citizen
  • a fiancee Visa
To promote family unity, immigration law allows U.S. citizens to petition for certain qualified relatives to come and live permanently in the United States. Eligible immediate relatives include the U.S. citizen’s:

Spouse Unmarried child under the age of 21 Parent (if the U.S. citizen is over the age of 21)

Immediate relatives have special immigration priority and do not have to wait in line for a visa number to become available for them to immigrate because there are an unlimited number of visas for their particular categories. U.S. citizens who want their relatives to immigrate to the United States can file a Form I 130, Petition for Alien Relative, for their spouse, children and if the U.S. citizen is at least 21 years old, their parents and brothers or sisters. Immediate relatives of a U.S. citizen, defined as one’s spouse, unmarried children under the age of 21, and parents, always have a visa number immediately available and are discussed in the Green Card for an Immediate Relative of a U.S. Citizen link to the left. If your relationship does not qualify you as an immediate relative of a U.S. citizen, then you may be in what is called a family preference category. Eligible relatives include:
  • Unmarried sons or daughters over the age of 21
  • Married child(ren) of any age
  • Brothers and sisters (if the U.S. citizen petitioner is over the age of 21)
  • Congress has limited the number of relatives who may immigrate under these categories each year so there is usually a waiting period before an immigrant visa number becomes available.
1. Determine Your Basis to Immigrate
The first step in the adjustment of status process is to determine if you fit into a specific immigrant category. Most immigrants become eligible for a green card (permanent residence) through a petition filed on your behalf by a family member or employer. Others become permanent residents through first obtaining refugee or asylum status, or through a number of other special provisions.
2. File the Immigrant Petition
When you know what category you believe best fits your situation, in most cases, you will need to have an immigrant petition filed on your behalf.
  • Family Based Family based categories require that a U.S. citizen or permanent resident relative file a Petition for Alien Relative, for you.
  • Employment Based Employment based categories most often require the intending U.S. employer to file a Petition for Alien Worker, for you. Entrepreneurs who intend to invest significant amounts of capital into a business venture in the United States may file an Immigrant Petition by Alien Entrepreneur@ on their own behalf.
  • Special Classes of Immigrants In some cases, certain immigrants may file a Petition for Amerasian, Widow(er), and Special Immigrant, or have one filed on their behalf.
Depending on the category you wish to adjust under, you may be eligible to have the petition filed at the same time that you file your Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status. Immediate relatives of a U.S. citizen may be able to file concurrently. Also, other certain classes of individuals who have a visa immediately available may be able to file concurrently. Most categories, however, require that you first establish your eligibility for the immigrant category by having an approved petition before you are allowed to file for Adjustment of Status, for these categories you will not be able to file concurrently.
3. Check Visa Availability
You may not file your Adjustment of Status until a visa is available in your category. If an immigrant visa is currently available to you, you may be able to apply for permanent residence.
4. File Application to Register Permanent Residency or Adjust Status
Regardless of whether a petition must be filed and approved prior to or whether it may be filed concurrently, you will need to apply for permanent residence at the appropriate time. After you file your application, you will be notified to appear
5. Go to your Application Support Center Appointment (Fingerprints)
at an Application Support Center for biometrics collection, which usually involves having your picture and signature taken and being fingerprinted. This information will be used to conduct your required security checks and for eventual creation of a green card, employment authorization or advance parole document.
6. Go to Your Interview (if applicable)
You may be notified of the date, time, and location for an interview at a USCIS office to answer questions under oath or affirmation regarding your application. You must attend all interviews when you receive a notice. When you come to your interview, you (and the family member that filed a petition on your behalf, if applicable) must bring originals of all documentation submitted with this application including passports, official travel documents, and Form I 94 regardless if they are expired. Not all applications require an interview. USCIS officials will review your case to determine if it meets one of the exceptions.
7. Get the Final Decision in the Mail
After all paperwork has been received, interviews conducted (if necessary), security checks completed, and other eligibility requirements reviewed, your case will be ready for a decision by USCIS. In all cases, you will be notified of the decision in writing. The granting of permanent residency is generally recorded as the date that you became a permanent resident. Refugees and certain humanitarian parolees (e.g. Cuban, Lautenberg) will have their date of adjustment of status recorded as that of their entry into the United States as a refugee. Asylees, whether the principal filer or his/her derivatives, will have their date of adjustment recorded as 1 year prior to the date of being granted permanent residence.
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