FAMILY IMMIGRATION/GREEN CARDS
The United States immigration system permits US citizens and US permanent residents to apply for permanent resident status (green cards) on behalf of their immediate family members, specifically spouses, children, parents and in the case of US citizens for their siblings. Some categories are immediately available for permanent residence such as spouses, parents and minor children of US citizens. Most categories, however, go on a priority wait list. When the category is current, the foreign national must be eligible for residence.
SPOUSES, MINOR CHILDREN AND PARENTS OF US CITIZENS
The spouse, minor children and parents of US citizens are immediate relatives meaning that they are immediately eligible to obtain permanent resident. If the foreign national is in the United States may adjust status for a green card provided that the spouse, minor child or parent entered the United States with legally with inspection. The marriage must be valid in the location where it occurred and not against public policy (i.e. bigamous marriages are not recognized) Step-children (children whose parents married prior to their eighteenth birthday) and adopted children of US citizens are also immediately eligible for permanent residence. Widows and widowers may also be eligible for residence if an application for residence is made within two years of the death of the US citizen spouse.
In order to be successful the applicant must not be subject to a ground of inadmissibility including those arising from certain criminal behavior, lying to an immigration official, visa fraud, deportation or because of potential to be a public charge.
If an immediate relative entered the United States without inspection, other than a narrow exception, most will have to return to his or her country of nationality to obtain permanent residence. A departure from the United States after an unlawful stay will trigger a ban on returning. There is however waivers available for spouses and children of US citizens or permanent residents. This waiver is obtainable in the United States and the time overseas would generally be a few weeks. Waivers are based on hardship to the relative and are not available to foreign nationals who have US citizen children.
OTHER FAMILY MEMBERS
Other immediate family members including spouses and children of permanent residents, adult children of US citizens and brothers and sisters of US citizens can be petitioned for but these individuals go on a priority wait list. The wait time for those on the priority list depends on the category and the country of nationality. For example the minor child of a permanent resident from Chile will have a faster wait time than a brother or sister from Mexico. In order to adjust status in the United States for all individuals on the priority wait list, the foreign national must have entered the United States legally and remain in status at the time the priority date is current. Otherwise the individual may only obtain residence at a US Consulate overseas.
In order to be eligible for adjustment of status the foreign national must not be subject to any grounds of inadmissibility and satisfy all the criteria for adjustment of status. Similarly, those that are obtaining residence through Consular Processing must be eligible, have no grounds of inadmissibility including not having resided in the United States in unlawful status and departing the United States within the last ten years. Waivers are available only to those foreign nationals that have spouses or parents that are US citizens or permanent residence.
Oltarsh & Associates, P.C. has helped countless families reunite and obtain their residence over the last sixty five years. We can assist in the most complex cases and strive to make the process as easy and manageable as possible. If you have any questions or would like to petition for a family member of be petitioned, please reach out for an evaluation.