Non-citizens can apply for Lawful Permanent Resident (“LPR” or a “green-card”) status in the U.S. based upon having family members who are either U.S. citizens or LPRs. The process, and wait times to receive a LPR status vary depending upon the relations.
For people who are spouses of a U.S. citizen, unmarried children (under the age of 21) of a U.S. citizen, and parents of a U.S. citizen who is over the age of 21, there is no waiting list to obtain LPR status. Consequently, the process of obtaining LPR status for a person who fits into this category, is relatively short, usually taking six months to one year.
Other relationships can allow people to obtain LPR status, but there are waiting lists of various lengths. The categories are broken down by relationship based upon “family preference” categories. The family preference categories are:
- Family First Preference (F1): Unmarried sons and daughters of U.S. citizens, and their minor children, if any.
- Family Second Preference (F2): Spouses, minor children, and unmarried sons and daughters (age 21 and over) of LPRs. At least seventy-seven percent of all visas available for this category will go to the spouses and children; the remainder is allocated to unmarried sons and daughters.
- Family Third Preference (F3): Married sons and daughters of U.S. citizens, and their spouses and minor children.
- Family Fourth Preference (F4): Brothers and sisters of U.S. citizens, and their spouses and minor children, provided the U.S. citizens are at least 21 years of age.
Note: Grandparents, aunts, uncles, in-laws, and cousins cannot sponsor a relative for immigration.
Each year, Congress only makes a certain number of visas available to each category. When the number of visas are used up, any additional applicants are placed on a waiting list. A person’s spot on the waiting list is determined by the date that the application was submitted – known as a “priority date.” Each month, the State Department posts a list of what “priority dates” are currently available, known as the “visa bulletin.” Remarkably, the wait list is measured in years, not months.
All of this information confuse you yet? And we haven’t even explained the process yet! Fortunately, you do not need to learn all of this, and there won’t be a quiz later. Rest assured, we know the process, we will do our best to help you understand it, and make things go as smoothly and as quickly as the bureaucracy will permit. Petitions for family members can be submitted whether the family member is inside or outside of the U.S. Each circumstance has its own requirements and own procedures – from entry requirements, consular processing, to affidavits of support.
Contact our office today to begin the process.