Two of the most common green card categories for immigrants who are seeking to live in the U.S., versus a visit or conducting business, are family based and employment based permanent residency.  To determine the best category for your application, you must fully understand the eligibility requirements for each. If you need additional information regarding your eligibility, seek the advice of a qualified immigration attorney, who can assist you in determining your facts and evidence and to see if you meet the criteria necessary, for you to be granted permanent residency status in the United States.

Family Based Eligibility

In order to be eligible for permanent residency status, filing under the family based category, Immigrants may be eligible to file for permanent resident status, if their family members meet the following criteria and conditions:

  • Your immediate sponsoring family member must be a U.S. Citizen and you  must be their spouse. If a child is seeking residency with a spouse, the sponsoring Petitioner must be a U.S. Citizen and the child must be under the age of 21 and unmarried.
  • If a non-immediate relative child is seeking residency to join a parent, conditions will apply as to custody, and the sponsoring parent must be a U.S. Citizen. The child will also need to be under 21 and unmarried.
  • If the parent of a U.S. Citizen is seeking permanent residency, the child sponsor must be 21-years of age or older.
  • Non-immediate family members of U.S. citizens include unmarried children over the age of 21, married children regardless of age and siblings over the age of 21.
  • Permanent Residents as Petitioning sponsors: If you are the sponsor of a relative and you currently hold a green card, a Petition can be filed for your immediate and non-immediate relatives, such as your spouse and your unmarried and married children, however, the wait times to receive a visa are far greater.

Employment Based Eligibility

Immigrants may seek permanent residency status if they have been offered permanent employment in the U.S. To qualify under this condition, the employer must petition U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services using Form I-140, after conditions are met to prove the need of the worker in the U.S. Immigrants may also apply for employment based eligibility if they can prove that they offer entrepreneurial opportunities, extraordinary artistic or educational or medical opportunities in support of our local economy.  Usually, to meet the entrepreneurial opportunity requirement, immigrants must meet minimum investment and job creation requirements and standards.

Other Visa Opportunities

If you do not qualify for permanent residency under the above stated categories, you may be able to seek permanent residency by filing for a fiance visa, or filing as a VAWA applicant, or through Asylum, or as the Widow(er) of a U.S. Citizen.

When to Contact an Immigration Attorney

Applying for green card status can be a complicated and it is a time consuming process. If you do not seek the assistance of a qualified immigration representative, the process will be filled with delays and frustration. Furthermore, attempting to enter the U.S. without proper authorization can complicate and delay the application, as well as lead to criminal actions or civil penalties, such as ICE hold and deportation.

It is always best to seek qualified legal advice early on in the immigration petition process and to avoid lengthy delays caused by misfiled or incomplete packages filed with USCIS. An experienced immigration attorney will know what is required and they will be able to provide time saving advice and guidance throughout the process. They may also be able to help expedite the process by preparing the necessary forms and evidence packets, especially if the need to bring a person to the U.S. is based on an emergency.

For more information or to have one of our legal representatives contact you to in regards to your immigration status and process, visit our website at Goldstein & Scopellite, PC or call us at 214-351-9100. Thank you

  • Pima County Bar Association
  • American Immigration Lawyers Association
  • American Bar Association
  • American Academy of Trial Attorneys
  • State Bar of Arizona
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