How to get a Green Card through Family
Immediate Relatives of U.S. Citizen:
Other relative of a U.S. Citizen or relative of a Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR) (family based preference categories***):
*** Family Based Preference Categories:
· First preference (F1) - unmarried sons and daughters, 21 years of age and older, of U.S.
· Second preference (F2A) - spouses and children (unmarried and under 21 years of age)
of lawful permanent residents;
· Second preference (F2B) - unmarried sons and daughters, 21 years of age and older, of
lawful permanent residents;
· Third preference (F3) - married sons and daughters of U.S. citizens; and
· Fourth preference (F4) - brothers and sisters of U.S. citizens (if the U.S. citizen is 21
years of age and older).
Fiancé(e) of a U.S. Citizen or the Fiancé(e)’s child:
Within 90 days after being admitted as a K-1 nonimmigrant, the foreign national must enter into a bona fide marriage with the U.S. citizen who filed the Form I-129F, Petition for Alien Fiancé(e), on his or her behalf. The foreign national spouse can then apply for lawful permanent resident status in the United States (get a Green Card).
The V visa is a nonimmigrant visa created to allow families to stay together while waiting for the processing of immigrant visas.
If you are a permanent resident (Green Card holder), your spouse, child (unmarried and under 21), or the child of your spouse (your step-child) may be eligible for a V visa if:
Widow(er) of a U.S. Citizen:
Widow or widower of a U.S. citizen and you were married to your U.S. citizen spouse at the time your spouse died. To immigrate as the widow(er) of a citizen, you must prove that you were legally married to the citizen, and that you entered the marriage in good faith, and not solely to obtain an immigration benefit.
VAWA Self-Petitioner – victim of battery or extreme cruelty:
Under the federal Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), you may be eligible to become a lawful permanent resident (get a Green Card) if you are the victim of battery or extreme cruelty committed by:
Under VAWA, you may file a Petition without your abusive family member’s knowledge or consent. If your self-petition is approved and you meet other eligibility requirements, you may be eligible to apply to become a Lawful Permanent Resident.
How to Change Immigration Status
The Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) permits the change of an individual's immigration status while in the United States from nonimmigrant or parolee (temporary) to immigrant (permanent) if the individual was inspected and admitted or paroled into the United States. The individual must be able to meet all required qualifications for a green card (Lawful Permanent Resident) in a particular category. The common term for a change to permanent status is "adjustment of status".
The INA provides two primary paths to lawful permanent resident status if you are the beneficiary of an approved immigrant petition and an immigrant visa number is immediately available to you. You can (1) “adjust status” or (2) go through consular processing.
Adjustment of status is the process by which an eligible individual already in the United States can get Lawful Permanent Resident status (a Green Card) without having to return to their home country to complete visa processing.
Consular processing is an alternate process for an individual outside the United States or who is in the United States but is ineligible to adjust status to obtain a visa abroad and enter the United States as a permanent resident. For consular processing, the person intending to immigrate to the United States goes to a U.S. Department of State consulate or embassy in his or her home country to complete the application for a U. S. Green Card (Lawful Permanent Resident).
Green Card for Person Born in the United States to a Foreign Diplomat
A person born in the United States to a foreign diplomatic officer accredited to the United States is not subject to the jurisdiction of United States law. Therefore, that person cannot be considered a U.S. citizen at birth under the 14th Amendment to the United States Constitution. This person may, however, be considered a permanent resident at birth and able to receive a green card through creation of record. The parent’s accredited title must be listed in the State Department Diplomatic List (Blue List). The Blue List includes:
It also includes those with comparable diplomatic status and immunities assigned to the United Nations or to the Organization of American States and other persons who have comparable diplomatic status.
Green Card through the Diversity Immigrant Visa Program
The Diversity Immigrant Visa Program (DV Program) makes up to 50,000 immigrant visas available annually, drawn from random selection among all entries to individuals who are from countries with low rates of immigration to the United States. The DV Program is administered by the U.S. Department of State (DOS).
For an applicant to adjust status under the DV Program, you must establish that you:
Green Card through LIFE Act (245(i) Adjustment)
The Legal Immigration Family Equity (LIFE) Act and LIFE Act Amendments of 2000 enable certain individuals who are present in the United States who would not normally qualify to apply for adjustment of status in the United States to obtain a Green Card (permanent residence) regardless of:
To qualify for this provision, you must be the beneficiary of a labor certification application or immigrant visa petition filed on or before April 30, 2001. In most cases, you must pay an additional $1,000 fee and complete Supplement A to Form I-485, to apply under Section 245(i) provisions with your adjustment of status application (Form I-485).
Citizenship Through Naturalization
Naturalization is the process by which U.S. citizenship is granted to a foreign citizen or national after he or she fulfills the requirements established by Congress in the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). You may qualify for Naturalization if:
Vocational or other recognized nonacademic institution, other than a language training program
Exchange Visitors (J-1/J-2):
J-1 Visa is authorized for those who intend to participate in an approved program for the purpose of teaching, instructing or lecturing, studying, observing, conducting research, consulting, demonstrating special skills, receiving training, or to receive graduate medical education or training.
Examples of exchange visitors include, but are not limited to:
J-2 Visa is a non-immigrant visa issued by a consular official at a U.S. embassy or consulate for spouses and dependents (unmarried children under the age of 21) of J-1 exchange visitors who accompany or later join the J-1 holder in the United States. Eligibility for a J-2 Visa depends on the specific exchange program being offered to the J-1 non-immigrant by a sponsor organization. Any J-2 Visa with the Employment Authorization Document (EAD) can work for any employer in the United States without sponsorship.
Individuals with Extraordinary Ability or Achievement (O):
The O-1 nonimmigrant visa is for the individual who possesses extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics, or who has a demonstrated record of extraordinary achievement in the motion picture or television industry and has been recognized nationally or internationally for those achievements.
The O nonimmigrant classification is commonly referred to as:
How to be Prepared for a Raid or Arrest
Everyone who lives in the U.S. has legal rights, even if they are undocumented. Our legal rights are in the U.S. Constitution, a document that protects us from bad or unfair treatment by law enforcement or the government. To protect yourself, learn about the right to be silent, the right to talk to a lawyer, your rights inside your home or on the street, and more.
To be ready for a raid or arrest:
If you are in a raid or arrest:
Be Skeptical of Unrealistic Promises
Not even the best attorneys can guarantee success. Ultimately, the outcome of your case is up to an Immigration Judge (IJ), the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and/or U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), a component of the United States Department of Homeland Security.
Disclaimer: General information, such as that provided by the Law Offices of Atonya McClain, PLLC, does not constitute individual legal advice nor is it meant to take the place of the assessment of an expert. However, we do hope to answer some of the questions we hear most often. You should always consult with a qualified immigration attorney about the individual facts of your case before making any decisions about your particular situation.
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