Thursday, December 18, 2008

What are the steps to a green card via family sponsorship?

1. I-130 Immigrant Petition.
The US citizen or permanent resident petitioner (sponsor) files a Form I-130 with the USCIS or with a US consulate outside the US, if the petition is outside the US. If both the petitioner and the beneficiary are inside the US, and if they qualify as Immediate Relatives, the 2nd step can be filed concurrently with the first. In all other cases, the beneficiary must wait until the I-130 is approved and the priority date is current before he can file the 2nd step.

2. Adjustment of Status or Consular Processing
The final step is filed by the foreign national with the USCIS or with the consulate overseas (via the National Visa Center (NVC)). Whichever route the foreign national takes, his dependent family members also file for permanent residence at this stage. This final step involves the foreign national showing to USCIS or the consulate that there is no reason why should not be admitted as permanent residents, i.e. that there are no criminal, medical, fraud, etc bars to a green card. To show this, each applicant needs to provide certain medical reports, birth and marriage documents, police records, and other documents that will be explained in detail by your immigration lawyer.

(i) Adjustment of Status.
If the foreign national’s priority date is current*, he can file the Adjustment of Status (AOS) with the I-130. Filing the I-130 and AOS concurrently typically always happens in marriage-based cases. If the priority date is not current, the foreign national must wait until it is current before he can file the AOS. Once the USCIS is ready to approve permanent residence, the foreign national and his “sponsor” are called for interview at their local USCIS office. Once the immigration officer is satisfied that the relationship is genuine, and that the foreign national has no bars to admissibility, CIS approves the case.

(ii) Consular Processing.
If the foreign national prefers, he can complete the permanent residence at his home consulate. This may be required if the foreign national is outside the US when the process is started. If the foreign national chooses consular processing, he cannot do the 2nd step until and I-130 is approved AND the priority date is current.

* Please see the FAQs on my website for an explanation of these terms.

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