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Get U.S. Green Card Through Family Member

Immigration

Many international students are interested in becoming Permanent Residents of the United States; otherwise known as Green Card Holders.  There are 8 possible eligibility criteria for obtaining a green card. This is according to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) –  the same U.S. government agency that is responsible for issuing student visas.

Sponsorship is the foundation of the U.S. immigration system.  A U.S. citizen or a legal permanent resident may sponsor any relative interested in immigrating to the United States.  All possible immigration categories  are subclassified into the following groups:

  • Family-based preferences,
  • Employment-based preferences,
  • Refugees and asylees, and
  • diversity visa lottery.

In this post, we only deal with the Green Card applicants through “family-based preferences.”

Green Card Family-based

(1) Apply as an immediate relative of a U.S. citizen, if you are the

  1. Husband or wife of a U.S. citizen,
  2. Unmarried child (including adopted-child, step-son or step-daughter) under the age of 21 of a U.S. citizen, or
  3. Parent of a U.S. citizen who is over 21 years old.

Quota & Waiting Period:

Spouses and minor children qualify as immediate relatives.   Normally, they can get Green Card status within 6 months to 12 months.   There’s no quota limitation, either, and the U.S. citizen – their family member – can simply file a petition for his or her family members.


(2) Apply as a family member of

  1. A U.S. Citizen: if you are an unmarried son or daughter of a U.S. citizen, if you are a married son or daughter of a U.S. citizen or if you are a brother or sister of a U.S. citizen who is at least 21 years old.
  2. A lawful permanent resident: if you are the spouse of a lawful permanent resident, if you are an unmarried child under the age of 21 of a lawful permanent resident, or if you are the unmarried son or daughter of a lawful permanent resident 21 years old or older.

Quota & Waiting Period:

The quota is 23,400 per year, and the waiting period is usually 2 years for an unmarried son or daughter of a U.S. citizen.  However, the process can take up to 5 years if you are from Mexico and 11 years if you are from the Philippines.

The quota is 114,200 per year and the waiting period is 4 years for the spouse or unmarried children of Green Card holders.

The quota is 23,400 per year and the waiting period is usually 3 years for a married son or daughter of a U.S. citizen.  If you are in Mexico or the Philippines, it can take twice as long.

The quota is 65,000 per year and the normal waiting period is 10 years if you are a brother or sister of a U.S. citizen who is at least 21 years old.   For those who are from the Philippines, it can take 19 years before you get the permanent resident status.


(3) Apply as the fiancé(e) of a U.S. citizen or the fiancé(e)’s child

Quota & Waiting Period:

There is no quota limit because the Green Card applicant is viewed as an immediate family member of a U.S. citizen.    The waiting period for the applicant is usually less than 12 months.


(4) Apply as the widow(er) of a U.S. citizen: This means you were still married to your U.S. citizen spouse at the time of his or her death, and you must have been married to the deceased U.S. citizen for at least 2 years.

Quota &  Waiting Period:

Applicants are under the “Immediate Relative” classification can get their documents processed quicker.

(5) Apply as the abused spouse, child, or parent:

that means you are

  • An abused spouse of a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident,
  • An abused child (unmarried and under 21 years old) of a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident, or
  • An abused parent of a U.S. citizen.

Do You Need An Immigration Lawyer?

The U.S. immigration law has new regulations from time to time.  It often gets too complicated even for an educated U.S. citizen.   Hiring a qualified immigration lawyer can help you navigate U.S. bureaucracy more effectively.

For the latest news released by the USCIS, please click HERE.

How Much Does An Immigration Lawyer Charge?

In the United States, in general, an immigration lawyer can charge you an hourly rate ranging from $100 to $450 or a flat fee ranging from $2,000 to $4,000 U.S. dollars for the service package.   A top immigration lawyer may cost you $10,000 more, depending on the complexity of your case.

We advise you to hire an immigration attorney because it can save you the time and energy.   They can get the application processed faster than you do it on your own.

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