Immigration law and processes are some of the most complex systems in the modern world, as many countries around the world fear for the integrity of their public assistance programs and national economies. As a green card holder, you have already shown that you are an asset to the United States. The immigration department wants to help you be together with your family, but the process involved long waits and a fat stack of paperwork.
Who is Eligible?
US citizens are able to fast-track members of their immediate family for green card approval. This includes spouses, unmarried children under the age of 21, and their parents. Other relations are eligible, but there is a waiting process attached to the immigration department’s approval.
As a green card holder, you are able to sponsor your family for a green card as well. You will only be able to sponsor your spouse and unmarried children for immigration approval. Because of the limitations put on these visas, there is often a long waiting process associated with their approval.
Where is Your Family?
Suppose your family has already come to the United States on a temporary visa for a visit. In that case, they can petition to be awarded a residency status through the following sponsorship process.
If your family is not inside the US and is still in your home country, they will need to apply for their green cards through the consulate.
The Sponsorship Process
While there are only three main steps to getting a family member approved for their green card, each step has a number of tasks associated with it. Many people choose to hire an immigration lawyer to help expedite the process and assist with any problems that come up on the journey towards approval.
Each family member you wish to sponsor must go through this process individually, quickly compounding the amount of work you will need to do.
The Immigrant Petition
The first step, the immigrant petition, is the most detailed. The main component is Form I-130. It is highly suggested you find an immigration specialist to help you prepare your USCIS form I-130.
You will also need to provide a ton of paperwork and documentation for yourself and the family member you are sponsoring. You will need to verify your immigration or citizenship status and clarify any relationships with the appropriate paperwork. For people without access to documents like birth certificates or marriage certificates, this can be a grueling task.
Both you and the relative you are sponsoring may also need to complete Form G-325A, which outlines biographic information. This form has recently been phased out, but it and other supplemental forms may come into play at this point in the process.
Denials at this stage are not uncommon, although the USCIS should let you know why the petition was rejected. They may also simply ask for more information or documentation before approving your petition.
The Green Card Application
Once the USCIS approves the immigration visa, and it becomes released for use, your relative will need to submit Form I-485 and provide more documents. This step is simpler, involving a criminal background check, a copy of the relative’s birth certificate and passport, and the approval notice from the previous step.
A medical examination is also required, as well as a couple of other supplemental forms. This step can actually be a bit of a burden on your relative, so working with an immigration specialist to relieve that pressure can be a huge help. The filing fee for this stage is also much higher, so getting it right the first time will save you time and money.
Wait for the USCIS’s Ruling
Again, the wait time can be long for this step. The USCIS will send their decision or a request for more information in the mail. Your relative will need to be processed at a USCIS facility to enter the system and get their green card.
With a law degree under his belt and years of experience, Mark Scott set off to make the law more accessible to all. He decided to help people lost in the maze of legal terminology to find their way. Mark writes clear and concise pieces and gives simple advice that is easy to follow. On account of positive feedback from readers, he decided to dedicate more of his time to this goal and became a legal columnist. In his writings, Mark covers a wide array of topics, like how to seek legal counsel, or how to deal with different procedures. Furthermore, he directs his readers toward other trustworthy resources for more in-depth information.