In my previous post, I touched upon the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965. As you may know, this landmark immigration act sought to promote family unity as a main priority. As a result, present-day immigration law allows for permanent residents of the United States (i.e. “green card holders”) to petition for certain eligible relatives to come and live permanently in the United States.  If you are a  permanent resident, your Miami family-based immigration attorney may petition for your spouse and unmarried child(ren) of any age to immigrate to the United States. Congress has limited the number of relatives who may immigrate under these categories each year so there is generally a waiting period before an immigrant visa number becomes available. If your family relationship qualifies you as an eligible relative of a U.S. permanent resident, then you are in what is called a “family preference category.”

To Obtain A Green Card While Living in the United States

If you are currently in the United States and are one of the specified categories of relatives of a permanent resident, you may be able to become a permanent resident in two steps.

  • First, your Miami immigration lawyer may help you file Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative. The petition must be approved in order for the application to proceed to the next step. Then, you must wait for your priority date in your immigrant visa category to become current.  Your priority date is the date when the Form I-130 is properly filed (with correct fee and signature) on your behalf by your U.S. permanent resident relative.  Note – I must add that as a Miami immigration attorney, I have personally encountered many cases where an applicant has tried to file the petition by himself/herself, thus botching the application in the process. This leads to complications and delays, which may well derail the application process. It may be wise at this juncture to speak with a Miami family-based immigration attorney to address any potential issues.
  • Once the priority date in your visa category is current, you may file for adjustment of status with Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status. Adjustment of status is the process you go through to become a permanent resident.

Obtaining  a Green Card While Outside the United States

If you are currently outside the United States and are one of the specified eligible categories of relatives of a permanent resident, you can become a permanent resident through consular processing. Consular processing is when the U.S. Department of State issues a visa on an approved Form I-130 petition when a visa is available.  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.

Important Things to Remember:

  • The Child Status Protection Act (CSPA). In certain cases, the CSPA may allow you to retain the classification of “child” even if you have reached age 21.
  • Getting Married. If you are the unmarried son or daughter of a permanent resident, and you get married prior to becoming a permanent resident, you no longer qualify for permanent residence through your permanent resident family member. There is no visa category for a married child of a permanent resident. Note: Your Miami immigration attorney must notify USCIS of any change in your marital status after Form I-130 has been filed for you and prior to becoming a permanent resident or obtaining an immigrant visa.
  • Permanent Resident Relative Becomes a U.S. citizen.  If the permanent resident relative that petitioned for you becomes a U.S. Citizen, your preference category would change and a visa may be available sooner.  This is because you would now be getting a green card as a relative of a U.S. citizen.
  • Turning 21 years of age. If you are an unmarried child of a permanent resident, turning 21 years of age may delay the process of becoming a permanent resident or obtaining an immigrant visa.  You will no longer qualify as an “Unmarried Child of a Lawful Permanent Resident” (F2A) and will convert to the category of an “Unmarried Son or Daughter of a Lawful Permanent Resident (F2B).” This change in categories may result in a significant delay in your immigrant visa becoming available.

For more information about how to obtain permanent residence for yourself or a loved one (i.e. a “green card”), please contact Miami family-based immigration attorney Michael G. Murray, Esq. at (305)895-2500 or visit our website at www. mmurraylaw.com .