Family members of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents may have the connections they need to obtain a green card. However, it is essential to follow procedures carefully when applying for a green card. Mistakes could cause further delays in an already lengthy process. Even worse, if a mistake is treated as an attempt to provide fraudulent information, the applicant may be barred from obtaining a green card.
Assistance from a Bolingbrook family-based green card lawyer could prevent errors or omissions that lead to delays and denials of green card applications. U.S. immigration laws are complex, and the standards are strict. Working with an immigration lawyer familiar with the process could provide peace of mind and help you reach a successful outcome.
The Basics About a Green Card
Many people in Bolingbrook know that having a green card enables someone to live and work legally in the U.S. forever. However, they often do not understand what a green card represents, and the steps needed to obtain one.
A green card is an identification document demonstrating that the holder is a lawful permanent resident (LPR) of the U.S. An LPR has many rights, including the right to work at most jobs and to claim full protection of state, federal, and local laws as well as many government benefits. After five years as an LPR, many individuals are qualified to become full U.S. citizens.
To obtain a green card, an individual must have a permanent visa, also called an immigrant visa. The U.S. government issues permanent visas in limited quantities each year, so depending on the type of visa sought, individuals applying may have a long wait before they can even show that they qualify for a family-based green card in Bolingbrook.
Immediate Relatives of Citizens
Those considered to be “immediate relatives” of U.S. citizens usually have the shortest wait to receive a green card. These individuals are given high priority and are not subject to quotas.
An immediate relative of a U.S. citizen is defined as:
- Husbands and wives
- Widows and widowers
- Unmarried children under the age of 21
- Orphans to be adopted abroad
- Parents (if the citizen is at least 21)
When someone applies for a green card based on a relationship with an LPR who later becomes a citizen, a family-based green card attorney in Bolingbrook could help ensure that the appropriate agencies are notified so that the applicant can take advantage of the benefits of immediate relative status.
Family Preference Visas
Some family members of citizens that do not qualify as immediate relatives may obtain a family-based green card through a family preference visa. Additionally, spouses and children of LPRs also have the ability to apply for a family preference visa to receive a green card.
The government has established different visa categories for family members and ranks these categories in order of preference. Those with a lower preference will have a longer wait time, so a Bolingbrook family-based green card attorney could help an applicant demonstrate qualifications for the highest applicable preference category.
Applying for a Visa to Obtain a Green Card
Individuals seeking an immigrant visa based on a family connection should start by having the citizen or LPR file a Petition for Alien Relative with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). After USCIS processes the petition, it will forward materials to the State Department’s National Visa Center.
When a visa is available in the applicable category, the Visa Center will begin pre-processing and ask the applicant to submit a visa application. Near the end of the process, the applicant will be interviewed by agency staff.
Contact a Bolingbrook Family-based Green Card Attorney
An experienced legal advocate could help at any stage in the process of obtaining a green card. From determining eligibility to establishing qualifications to following up on delays, an immigration attorney can provide guidance and work to ensure a petition or application receives approval.
A green card opens many doors but obtaining the card can be difficult. Call for a consultation to learn how a Bolingbrook family-based green card lawyer could help you make the most of your opportunities.