In order to be authorized to live and work permanently in the United States even if you are not a Native American citizen, you need to have the so-called permanent resident card or the Green Card which a good immigration lawyer can help you get. The USCIS (United States Citizenship and Immigration Services) is the body that grants the immigration Green Card.
There are many ways on how you can acquire the Green Card. Some people were granted with the card through the help of family members or employers, which are US citizens. It can also be acquired obtaining an asylum or refugee status. You are eligible if you fall into one of the immigrant categories, have a qualifying immigrant petition, have an immigrant visa, and are admissible to the US.
Before applying, the very first thing you need to do is to determine whether you are eligible or not. Here are some of the aspects that make you eligible.
- Family Based Options
You can have a green card if you are an immediate relative of a person having US citizenship, you are a family member of a US citizen that fits in a preference category, you are a member of a family having a green card, or you are a member of a special category.
- Job or Employment Based
You can have a green card if you are offered with a job in the US for a permanent basis, you invest in an enterprise that offers jobs for the people in the US, you have a National Interest Waiver, or you have a job categorized as special.
Based on Status
You can have a green card either if you are a refugee or if any of your family members have an asylum status.
This is where you need to sign up forms based on what category you fall into or let someone sign for it on your behalf. The petition states all probable basis for your immigration classification. It can be filed together with an adjustment application in most cases, depending on which category you belong. Not all though needs to file for a petition. Those who file based on humanitarian programs may not need to apply for the immigration and naturalization petition.
If you are an immediate relative of a US citizen, getting a visa will not be a problem. However, if you are filing based on employment or other immigration family preference, you need to avail visa by determining your priority date, preference category, and your country of citizenship.
You must be able to prove satisfactorily to the immigration officer that you are admissible to the United States. Your admissibility is determined by several factors such as security, health, criminal records, and other grounds. After having a green card, you may now live and work in the US permanently. You need to have the immigrant green card with you all the times, especially if you are already 18 years old. Now that you already know how to obtain a green card in the United States, you can apply to get your own if you are eligible and if you think you can submit all of the requirements needed.
Immigration to the United States through Family Visas
There are several different nationalities who seek to immigrate to the United States every year. Different kinds of visas are granted every year to a limited number of people.Moreover, it has been noted by many that the easiest and most effective way to get a Green Card is by going through the family-base visa process.This is why there are many questions that arise about immigration to the United States through Family Visas. Here are answers to some frequently asked question about immigration to the United States through Family Visas.
What are the different kinds of immigrant visas are family-based?
Immigrant visas that are family-based are generally grouped into two categories under the US immigration law.
- Immigrant Visa (Immediate Relative) – for close family relations of the US Citizen
- Unmarried child who is 21 years old and below
- Adopted orphan
- Immigrant Visa (Family Preference) – for family relationships which are more distant
- Unmarried adult-children of US citizen including minor children
- Unmarried daughters and sons, spouses, and minor children
- Married children of US citizens, their spouses as well as their minor children
- Siblings of US citizens, their spouses as well as minor children
What is a petition?
Filing a petition is the initial step to attaining an immigrant visa. The sponsoring kin must file for Alien Relative or the Form I-130 to the Department of Homeland Security, USCIS (United States Citizenship and Immigration Services)
What are the requirements so you would be able to file for a petition?
- Citizens of the US who are filing for petitions for their parents or siblings must be at least 21 years of age.
- AnLPR (Lawful Permanent Resident) must be at the least 18 years of age and have a house in the US to be able to sign the required forms for petitions.
- Grandparents, in-laws, cousins, uncles and aunts cannot be a sponsor for family-based immigration.
- Living in the US or having a principal residence in the US is needed to be able to petition.
- LPRs who become U.S. citizens can upgrade their petitions by sending documents (certificate of naturalization, bio data page of U.S. passport) to the NVC or the National Visa Center.
If petition is the initial step, what are the next steps?
When a petition is filed, the USCIS approves it before it is sent to the NVC. The NVC then assigns a petition case number.
- Form DS-261 must be accomplished so that the pre-processing can happen.
- NVC will give the petitioner and visa applicant the instructions on fees and necessary documents to be submitted.
- After the NVC has processed the application, a visa interview appointment will be scheduled as one of the final steps.
- Applicant and petitioner will wait for the family visa to be approved.
What fees are charged to acquire a family-based immigrant visa?
The succeeding services have required fees:
- Filing for Petition of Alien Relative using the Form I-130
- Processing of visa application using the Form DS-260
- Required vaccinations
- Medical examinations (done by authorized panel of physicians which vary per country or region)
- Other costs to consider are fees for attaining documents (birth certificates, passports, clearances), translations of documents, photocopying, travel to and from the United States Embassy or the Consulate for the scheduled visa interview
It is important to remember that the costs differ from situation to situation and from different parts of the world. All fees are needed to be paid regardless of the age of the applicant and should be paid following the instructions of the NVC.
What are the required documents?
The following are the general documents required for family-based immigration visas:
- Affidavit of support from the U.S. sponsor or petitioner (Form I-864, Form I-864A, Form I-864 EZ, or Form I-864W
- Form DS-260 or Immigrant Visa and Alien Registration Application
- Valid passports (valid for 60 days after the expiration date on the immigrant visa)
- Two 2×2 photographs following the photograph requirements (colored, taken not more than 6 months prior to application, plain white background, full-view with neutral facial expression)
- Civil forms and documents for the applicants in original, certified true photocopies and translations if necessary (e.g. birth certificate, adoption documentation, marriage or marriage termination, military records, police clearances, court and prison records)
- Completed medical examination forms
More specifics on the required documents and photos can be found at the official website of the United States Bureau of Consular Affairs.
What is a Visa Interview?
After the NVC has checked the completeness of all submitted documents, the applicant will be scheduled for an interview with a consular officer. The NVC will send the files to the United States Embassy or the Consulate and the candidate will be informed via email or mail of the time and date of the visa interview in addition to the instructions and guidelines to prepare. The visa interview will allow the consular officer determine if the applicant is qualified to be granted a family-based immigration visa in agreement with the United States immigration law.
Important notes about the Visa Interview:
- Read the “Rights and Protections” pamphlet before a visa interview
- All required vaccinations and medical exams have to be completed before the visa interview.
- Digital fingerprints are taken during the visa interview.
- After the interview is done, all original civil forms and documents, including translations are returned to the applicant.
- Avoid bringing any companions to the visa interview as much as possible.
Here are some additional useful tips for the visa interview:
- Review the questions and answers on all the documents that you and your sponsor have submitted.
- Recall your travel history, immigration history, and your financial figures.
- Prepare documents to substantiate changes or errors you have noticed from previous submissions.
- Do not forget to bring your interview appointment letter from the NVC
- Bring a fine point pen for signing the photographs you will submit.
- Dress neatly and presentably, as if you were going to a job interview.
- Avoid showing too much enthusiasm about the United States in your clothes (American flag symbols) and speech (saying how great the U.S. is and how you would fit well)
- Come to the venue at least 15 minutes before your interview schedule to give yourself time to line up, freshen up, or breathe if you are the nervous type
- It pays to be as honest as you can since you will be made to swear and sign a form at the end of the interview
- In cases where you need to reschedule (for instance, you got very ill), you should contact the United States Embassy or Consulate directly to ask about the process of rescheduling.
- Coordinate with the U.S. Embassy or Consulate if your children will be joining you for the scheduled interview.
Can I have my medical exam before my interview is scheduled?
No. The guidelines for medical exams are given by the NVC. Only authorized physicians are allowed to conduct the medical exam and any violations of this will invalidate the medical exam requirement. The medical exam consists of:
- Physical exam (at least include: eyes, ears, nose, throat, extremities, lymph nodes, skin, lungs, abdomen, heart and external genitalia)
- Applicant’s medical history
- Chest x-ray
- Blood tests
Medical examinations are valid for one year unless there are specific medical conditions, in which case it will only be valid for three months.
How long will it take to have a family-based immigration visa processed?
Since some family-based immigration visas have limited slots per category, it does take more time. The amount of time cannot be accurately predicted since it differs from situation to situation and country to country. Most people would say it is safe to assume that visa processing can take months.
What can disqualify an applicant?
There are several reasons why a visa application can be deemed ineligible or denied. Records of activities such as submitting falsified documents, overstaying another visa, or drug related cases are some examples. In some minor cases, the ineligibility status of an applicant can be temporary, but there are also cases of permanent illegibility.
How do you know if the family-based visa application has been approved?
During the interview, consular officers get a chance to clarify almost everything about the application. If the consular officer finds any irregularities, the applicant is notified right away and a waiver may be signed to signify that some documents need to be resubmitted. In other cases, a notice of declined application will be sent to both the sponsor and the applicant.
Can I get my money back if my visa application has been refused?
No. The fees you paid are application fees, which everyone who applies for a visa is required to pay. The fees are non-refundable and you will have to pay them again if you choose to reapply for a visa.
I have a visa, that means I can go in the United States, right?
Not exactly. After all that information on the family visa, it would be useful to know that United States visas, whatever the type, only permits a foreign civilian to travel to the US’ port-of-entry. However, it does not automatically guarantee entry to the United States. The immigration inspectors and authorities will still have to authorize or deny admissions to the U.S.as per the Department of Homeland Security U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP).