- Sons and Daughters Over the Age of 21 of US Citizens
- Children and Spouses of Lawful Permanent Residents
- Brothers and Sisters of Adult US Citizens
If you have a relative that falls into one of the above categories, they are part of what immigration calls preference groups. A preference group is determined by the relationship between the US citizen or lawful permanent resident and their relative. The visa bulletin will explain what category your relative will be placed in and how long the wait will be to obtain a visa.
If you have an approved immigrant visa petition for your relative, the priority date on the approval notice has been reached on the visa bulletin and your relative is inside of the United States and currently in status, your relative may be able to apply for a green card without leaving the United States. This process would be similar to the immediate relative process.
In the event that your relative is inside of the United States and has gone out of status or has no status, they will most likely have to complete part of the process outside of the United States. Additionally, if your relative is currently outside of the United States, they would also follow the process below.
For relatives who are out of status or outside of the United States, you would first need to file an immigrant visa petition for your relative with the Department of Homeland Security. The Department of Homeland Security will require substantial evidence demonstrating your relationship with your family member.
Once the application has been approved, the application will be forwarded to the Department of State. The Department of State will hold the application until the priority date has been reached. Once it has been reached, the Department of State will start its process and require additional documents which would assist your relative in obtaining a visa out of the country.
Once this step has been completed, your family member and/or you will be required to attend an interview at the US Consulate in their native country (if applicable). The Department of State will conduct an interview to determine the relationship is a valid relationship and to also determine that your family member is allowed to enter the United States (is admissible)*. If your relative is currently in the United States and is going through this process, you need to speak with an immigration attorney before they leave the United States. If a person is found inadmissible, the only way they will be able to enter the country is with a waiver or waiting for any time bar to pass (some grounds of inadmissibility are not permanent, but are bars for a certain amount of years). If the application is approved and your relative is found admissible, they will be given a visa to enter the United States. They will come in as lawful permanent residents and there will be a final step with Homeland Security to ensure the green card by your relative.
This process can be very time consuming and very confusing as you are dealing with several department within the US government. If you would like to discuss a strategy for assisting your relative to become a permanent resident and to have clarity of the time that would be required, you may contact
our office for a consultation with one of our attorney.