Jacksonville Family Based Immigration Lawyers

helps families come to and/or stay together in the United States.

We have immigration lawyers that have experience helping families unite, reunite or stay united in the United States.  Whether you're interested in getting married or are already married and interested in obtaining a green card for your spouse, have a parent or child who you want help obtain a green card or are yourself a non-U.S. citizen and interested in your family based immigration options, LGL is here to help you.  

How can I sponsor my family member for a green card?

One of the most widely used avenues to obtain a green card is through family sponsorship.  A United States citizen or Lawful Permanent Resident can file a petition with USCIS (United States Citizenship and Immigrations Services) for certain family members.  Once approved, that family member will either be immediately eligible to apply for an immigrant visa at an embassy or apply for a green card in the United States, or they may have to wait until a visa number becomes available.  Typically, the farther removed the foreign national's relationship from the United States citizen, the longer the wait.  If you are applying for a family member, you would submit Form I-130 with supporting evidence. 

What is a green card exactly?

A green card, is the common name for a Permanent Resident card.  You get a green card when you apply and are approved for Lawful Permanent Residence.  Typical ways to become a Lawful Permanent Resident are by being sponsored by a U.S. Citizen or LPR family member, being sponsored by a U.S. Employer, Asylum, and others.  A green card holder has the privilege of living and working in the United States permanently, but you must continue to intend to reside in the U.S. permanently or the government may accuse you of abandoning your green card, especially if you take a long trip of 6 months or more outside the United States or if you spend more time outside the United States than inside.   

A green card is good for ten (10) years and then you can renew it.  Even if you green card expires, you do not lose your Lawful Permanent Resident status.  You just look proof that you are a Lawful Permanent Resident.  Only an immigration judge can take your Lawful Permanent Resident Status.  

Green card holders are typically eligible to become United States Citizens after five years.  Certain green card holders can apply for U.S. Citizenship after only three (3) years, including spouses of United States Citizens who have been living in marital union with that U.S. Citizen for the last 3 years.  

If you obtain your green card based on the marriage to a U.S. citizen that occurred within two (2) years of filing for the green card, then you will be given a conditional green card that is only valid for two (2) years.  You and your U.S. Citizen spouse will have to file a petition to remove the conditions before the expiration of the two year green card or you can lose your lawful permanent residence.  If you are no longer married to the United States citizen, you may be able to file a waiver of the joint petition requirement, even if the two year green card has expired.  However, if you are separated or divorced from your United States citizen spouse, you should not let the two year conditional green card expire without consulting with an immigration lawyer first. 

What is an immediate relative of a United States citizen?

Immediate relatives of United States citizens receive many valuable benefits within the immigration laws.  For example, there is no waitlist for the immediate relative of a U.S. Citizen, so if you are an immediate relative of a U.S. citizen within the United States, you may be able to file for a green card at the same time your U.S. citizen immediate relative files the petition.  If you are outside the United States, the U.S. citizen immediate relative would file the I-130 and once it is approved, the foreign national could immediately begin the application process with the National Visa Center (NVC) and the consulate at the embassy.

Immediate Relatives are defined in the Immigration and Nationality Act as:
  1. Husband or wife of a United States Citizen
  2. Child of a United States Citizen, as long as the child is under 21 and unmarried
  3. Parent of a United States Citizen, as long as the United States Citizen child is 21 years old or older
If you fall under any of these three categories, you would be immediately eligible to obtain a green card as long as you are not inadmissible under another provision of immigration law.  

How can I get a green card if I'm not the immediate relative of a United States citizen?

If you are the relative of a United States citizen or Lawful Permanent Resident, you still may be eligible to obtain a green card, but you might have to wait for an extended period of time.  Anyone who is not an immediate relative of a U.S. citizen falls into one of the following preference groups:

F1 - Unmarried Sons and Daughters of U.S. Citizens
F2A - Spouses and Children of Lawful Permanent Residents (LPR)
F2B - Unmarried Sons and Daughters (21 years old or older) of Lawful Permanent Residents
F3 - Married Sons and Daughters of U.S. Citizens
F4 - Brothers and Sisters of Adult U.S. Citizens

Each of these preference categories has a waitlist that changes each month.  The  Department of State publishes the Visa Bulletin each month and it tells you if your priority date has become current. In other words, if the U.S. citizen or LPR family member filed an I-130 petition on your behalf and it was approved, there would be a priority date on the I-130.  Once that priority date becomes current, the foreign national family member can then apply for an immigrant visa at an embassy or apply for a green card inside the United States if they are otherwise admissible under the immigration laws.  For example, as of the writing of this webpage, an unmarried son or daughter of a United States citizen, whose parent filed an I-130 for them back on or before January 1st, 2014, would now be able to apply for an immigrant visa (outside the U.S.) or green card (inside the U.S.), so there is about a 6 1/2 year waitlist for adult sons and daughters of U.S. citizens.  You can find the current visa bulletin here.

Please click a link below to read more about the different Family Based Immigration options that might be available to you 
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