A person who has a green card has legal permanent resident status. If you are a legal permanent resident or LPR, that means that you can potentially apply for citizenship after a certain period of time. But how do you get a green card?
One of the most common ways is through a family member who is a US citizen. If you are the spouse, an unmarried child under the age of 21, or a parent of a US citizen you are deemed an ‘immediate relative.’ If you are an immediate relative you do not have to wait for a visa, because there are an unlimited number of visas for immediate relatives.
If you are a child of a US citizen who is over 21 and unmarried (first preference), a child of a US citizen who is over 21 and MARRIED (third preference), or a sibling of a US citizen (fourth preference), you will have to wait for your visa, which could potentially take years. If you fit into one of these three preferences, there are only a certain number of visas available and currently the system is backlogged. So although you may be approved for a visa, you have to wait for your visa number to become current in the country you are from before you actually receive it. You can check online for the wait times for these types of visas.
Whether you are an immediate relative or fit into one of the four preferences, you will have to file an I-130 which is a petition to show how you are related to the US citizen, and then at some point you will file an I-485, which is the application for your green card. If you are an immediate relative, it may be possible to file the I-130 and I-485 at the same time.
If you have any questions about the process or want to apply for a green card for a family member, please call our office at 508-438-1198.
THIS POST WAS WRITTEN BY ATTORNEY JAMIE COSME. IT IS INTENDED FOR INFORMATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY. IT IS NOT LEGAL ADVICE.