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Family Based Visas

A lawful permanent resident (Green Card holder) is a foreign national who has been granted the privilege of permanently living and working in the United States. One of the requirements of applying for US citizenship is to be a permanent resident for a continuous five years. If a person wants to become a lawful permanent resident based on the fact that he/she has a relative who is a citizen of the United States, or a relative who is a lawful permanent resident, the person must go through a multi-step process.

Perks of Being a Green Card Holder/Permanent Resident

As a permanent resident a person may have most of the rights of a United States Citizen. However, there are some exceptions:

Rights

  • To live permanently in the United States, provided the person does not commit any actions that would make him/her removable (deportable) under Immigration Laws.
  • To be employed in the United States for any type of legal work that the person chooses and is qualified for.
  • To be protected by all of the laws of the United States, the person's state of residence and local jurisdictions.
  • To vote in local elections where United States Citizenship is not required.

Exceptions

  • Some jobs will be limited to United States Citizens due to security concerns.
  • The permanent resident may not vote in elections limited to United States Citizens.

International Travel

A Green Card holder can travel freely outside of the US. A passport from the country of citizenship is normally all that is needed. To reenter the US, a Permanent Resident normally needs to present the Green Card (Permanent Resident Card, Form I-551) for readmission. A re-entry permit is needed for re-entry for trips greater than one year but less than two years in duration.

Green Card Expiration

The Permanent Resident Card currently is issued with 10-year validity. Status as a Permanent Resident does not expire with the 10-year validity; only the card expires. The card must be renewed before it expires.

There is also a conditional permanent resident card, which expires in 2 years and the holder will be deported if action is not taken. If the Green Card was received by marriage which was issued to the person when the marriage was less than 2 years old then the person most likely will have a conditional permanent resident card.

Conditional Permanent Status

After your marriage, your new spouse will initially receive conditional permanent residence status for two years. Conditional permanent residency is granted when the marriage is less than two years old at the time of adjustment to permanent residence status. The difference between a conditional and an unconditioned permanent resident is that permanent resident status will expire in two years from when it was given, unless the person successfully petitions to have the condition removed. As a new couple, Form I-751 must be filed during the 90-day period immediately before the second anniversary of the date the alien spouse was granted conditional permanent residence.

Sponsoring Relatives

A Permanent Resident can petition for relatives, such as his/her spouse and children to join him or her in the United States as immigrants. If the person had a spouse and children when he/she became a Permanent Resident, they may be eligible for permanent residence through the person without filing separate petitions. This depends on how the individual qualified for permanent residence. To determine whether this possible, you should seek the aid of the Immigration Attorneys at Garg & Associates PC.

Sponsor Eligibility (American National)

In order to be eligible to sponsor a relative to immigrate to the United States, the sponsor must meet the following criteria:

  • A sponsor must be a citizen or a lawful permanent resident of the United States and be able to provide documentation proving status.
  • A sponsor must prove that he/she can support the relative at 125% above the mandated poverty line.
  • If the sponsor is a US Citizen he/she may petition for the following foreign national relatives to immigrate to the United States; however the sponsor must be able to provide proof of the following relationships:
    • Husband or wife;
    • Unmarried child under 21 years old;
    • Unmarried son or daughter over 21 years of age;
      • Married son or daughter of any age;
    • Brother or sister, if sponsor is at least 21 years old; or
    • Parent, if sponsor is at least 21 years old.
  • If the sponsor is a lawful permanent resident he/she may petition for the following foreign national relatives to immigrate to the United States; however the sponsor must be able to provide proof of the following relationships:
    • Husband or wife; or
    • Unmarried son or daughter of any age.

There are certain relatives that a sponsor cannot file this petition on behalf of.

Applicant Eligibility (Foreign National)

To be eligible for lawful permanent residence based on a family relationship the applicant must meet the following criteria:

  • The applicant must have a relative who is a US citizen or a lawful permanent resident that can provide documentation proving their status and is willing to sponsor the applicant for lawful permanent residency by filing the I-130, Petition for Alien Relative.
  • The relative must be able to prove they can support the applicant by providing documentation that their income is 125% above the mandated poverty line for their family, including the applicant and all other sponsored family members.
  • If the relative is a US Citizen and they can legally prove the applicant shares one of the following relationships, the applicant may be eligible for lawful permanent residency:
    • Husband or wife;
    • Child under 21 years old;
    • Unmarried son or daughter over 21;
    • Married son or daughter of any age;
    • Brother or sister if applicant is at least 21 years old; or
    • Parents if applicant is at least 21 years old.
  • If the relative is a lawful permanent resident and they can legally prove the applicant shares one of the following relationships, the applicant may be eligible for lawful permanent residence:
    • Husband or wife; or
    • Unmarried son or daughter of any age.

(Note: The definition of "immediate relative" includes widows of U.S. citizens, provided that the foreign national was the spouse of the citizen for at least 2 years prior to the citizen's death and was not legally separated from the citizen at the time of his/her death.)

Immigrant Visas Ineligibility/Waiver

The Immigration Laws of the United States, in order to protect the health, welfare, and security of the United States, prohibit the issuance of a visa to certain applicants. Examples of applicants who must be refused visas are those who: have a communicable disease such as tuberculosis, have a dangerous physical or mental disorder, are drug addicts; have committed serious criminal acts; are terrorists, subversives, members of a totalitarian party, former Nazi war criminals; have used illegal means to enter the United States; or are ineligible for citizenship. Some former exchange visitors must live abroad for two years. Physicians who intend to practice medicine must pass a qualifying exam before receiving Immigrant Visas. If found to be ineligible, the consular officer will then advise the applicant if the law provides for some form of waiver.

For quick response for any situation requiring a qualified Immigration Attorney, Contact Garg & Associates immediately at 281-362-2865 or 1-800-242-2151 or use our Contact Form.