Family reunification is a passion of ours. We focus on assisting with the different paths that leads from a visa to a green card, and ultimately, to U.S. citizenship, provided the person qualifies.
Applicants for permanent residency based on their relationship to a U.S. Citizen or Lawful Permanent Resident (green card holder) are divided into different categories. The wait times for a green card to become available to you, depends primarily upon the category in which you are placed.
Immediate relatives of U.S. citizens are exempt from quotas and usually have their applications processed quickly. Immediate relatives are spouses and minor children of U.S. citizens and parents of U.S. citizens who are over 21 years of age.
The five family-sponsored categories discussed below are subject to quotas, which often create long waiting periods. The waiting times may be longer for applicants born in India, Mainland China, Mexico, and the Philippines.
The first preference is for unmarried sons and daughters of U.S. citizens regardless of age.
The second preference includes two sub-categories: (a) for spouses and minor children of permanent residents; and (b) unmarried adult sons and daughters of permanent residents.
The third preference category is for married sons and daughters of U.S. citizens.
The fourth preference is for brothers and sisters of U.S. citizens who are 21 years of age or over.
You can visit the Department of State’s website below for the Visa Bulletin to find out the latest priority dates.More Info
Removal of Conditions on Permanent Residence based on Marriage
Spouses of U.S. citizens are granted a two-year conditional green card, unless the marriage has been in existence for at least two years at the time the applicant is admitted as a resident. Conditional permanent residents who obtained their status through marriage must remove the conditions on their residence before the expiration of the 2 year conditional residence. This status is conditional, because you must prove that you did not get married to evade the immigration laws of the United States. The following conditional residents should apply to remove such conditions:
- Conditional residents who are still married to the same U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident.
- Widow or widower of a marriage that was entered into in good faith.
- Conditional residents who entered into a marriage in good faith where the marriage was terminated ended by divorce or annulment.
- Conditional residents who entered into a good faith marriage, but either the spouse or the child was battered or was subjected to extreme hardship by the U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident spouse.
Once USCIS is satisfied with the provided evidence that it is a legitimate marriage entered into good faith, the conditional resident will be issued a Permanent Resident card that is valid for 10 years.
Abused Spouse/Widow Self-Petition
U.S. citizens and Lawful Permanent Residents may file immigrant visa petitions on behalf of a spouse or child, so that these family members may immigrate to or remain in the United States. Unfortunately, some cases exist where U.S. citizens and Permanent Residents abuse their control of this process to mistreat their family members. Consequently, most battered immigrants are fearful to report the abuse to the authorities out of fear of losing their immigration benefits, and being sent back to their native country.
Under the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) passed by Congress in 1994, the spouses and children of US citizens or lawful permanent residents may self-petition to obtain lawful permanent residency. The immigration provisions of VAWA allow certain battered immigrants to file for immigration benefits without the abuser's assistance or awareness, in order to seek safety and independence from the abuser.
Naturalization is the process by which USCIS confers U.S. Citizenship upon a foreign citizen who has fulfilled certain requirements.
In order to be eligible to apply for naturalization, the applicant must qualify for one of the following:
- A Lawful Permanent Resident for at least five years and at least 18 years old
- A Lawful Permanent Resident for at least three years and at least 18 years old, the applicant has been married to and living with the same U.S. citizen for the last three years, and the applicant’s spouse has been a U.S. citizen for the last three years.
- A member of one of several other groups eligible to apply for naturalization (for example, persons who are nationals but not citizens of the United States) and at least 18 years old.
- A person who has served honorably in the U.S. Armed Forces, and if the applicant is at least 18 years old, a Lawful Permanent Resident with at least one year of U.S. Armed Forces service, and the applicant is filing his or her application for naturalization while still in the service or within six months after the termination of such service. Or, the person served honorably as a member of the Selected Reserve of the Ready Reserve or in active-duty status during a designated period of hostilities. The person may apply for naturalization without having been physically present in the United States for any specified period.
Several factors which an applicant must demonstrate are: continuous residence and physical presence, good moral character, and an attachment to the U.S. Constitution and affirm loyalty to the United States.
After filing, the applicant will next receive notification of an appointment for biometrics to appear at an Application Support Center for fingerprinting and photos. Once this procedure is done, the fingerprints are sent to the FBI for background and name checks. Next, the applicant will receive a letter of appointment to appear for an interview before an USCIS officer. During this interview, the applicant will be tested for knowledge of the English Language and U.S. History and Government. If the officer is satisfied as to the applicant’s fulfillment of the requirements, the application will be approved. Thereafter, the applicant will be required to attend an oath ceremony (swearing-in) conducted by the USCIS, and will receive a Certificate of Naturalization at the end of ceremony. After completing the Oath of Allegiance, the applicant is considered a U.S. Citizen and can apply for a U.S. Passport.
DISCLAIMER: The aforementioned is for general information purposes only and should not be viewed as legal advice. For any specific questions, please contact us by phone or email.