GREEN CARDS Through family members
If you have a spouse, parent or child who wants to file for a green card for you, there are two possible ways to do it. The first is “adjustment of status,” which lets you receive a green card without leaving the United States. The second is through “consular processing,” where you and your paperwork are processed in the American consulate in your home country.
Adjustment of Status
Which path is appropriate for your situation? I always try to see if obtaining your green card without leaving the United States is possible. It is the most straightforward and safest way to get a green card. If you are the parent, spouse, or child of a U.S. citizen and you entered the country with permission from the U.S. government, you may be eligible to receive your green card without having to leave the country.
If you qualify for adjustment of status, we will submit all your paperwork to United States Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS) for processing at once. There will be an interview, which is usually scheduled five to eight months from the day USCIS receives your entire application.
If you are unable to adjust your status in the U.S., consular processing may be an option. Even if you have lived the the United States for most of your life, if you entered without permission from the government, you may have to go through consular processing.
The first step is having a family member with U.S. citizenship file an I-130 Relative Petition, which our office will prepare. Once the I-130 is approved, we may need to file waivers depending on your precise situation. These waivers must be approved by USCIS before we can complete your visa application and schedule your consular interview.
Once everything is approved, we can move forward as long as your visa number is current. Consular processing is controlled by an agency called the National Visa Center (NVC), which handles the documentation that allows you to attend your green card interview in your home country. Before you go, we will extensively prepare you so you know exactly what to expect.
You will then fly out to the consulate to attend the interview. Assuming everything goes well, you will be approved and given permission to reenter the United States with your immigrant visa. Your new green card will be mailed to your home within six to eight weeks.
Green Card Waivers For Consular Processing
Your green card application will require waivers if you entered the United States without permission from the government, were convicted of crimes, or have accrued unlawful presence of more than 180 days. If you fail to file for a necessary waiver before you leave for your consular interview, you might get stuck outside the United States and be barred from reentering for many years.
This is everyone’s worst nightmare! We speak with our clients and review their documents closely to ensure we have filed the necessary waivers. I can’t tell you how many times I hear about people filing for consular processing and leaving the U.S. without realizing they were required to file a waiver. This leads to nothing but heartbreak and legal problems. If you believe you may need to file a waiver, make sure to hire an experienced immigration lawyer to prepare or at least evaluate your case.
Green Cards Through Asylum
If you have been granted asylum, you will soon be eligible to apply for your green card in the United States. Generally, you must be physically present in the U.S. for at least one year after you were granted asylum, be physically present at the time you file your green card application, your grant of asylum must not be terminated, and you meet all the other general requirements for adjustment of status.
If you have been granted asylum and have a spouse or children that were not included in your asylum application, you can file a petition that would allow them to also receive asylum status and ultimately green cards.
Green Cards for Victims of Crime (U Visas)
If you have been granted a U Visa by the U.S. government, you are eligible to apply for a green card as long as you meet the requirements. The U.S. government, before granting you a green card, requires that you have been continuously physically present in the U.S. for three years while maintaining your U Visa status prior to applying for a green card, that you have not refused to assist police officers with investigating the underlying crime, and that you can show that your presence in the U.S. is justified and in the public interest. Most importantly, you must also meet all the other general green card requirements such as having a clean record and being a person of good character.
Green Cards Through VAWA
VAWA stands for the Violence Against Women Act, which was passed by Congress to protect immigrants who have suffered abuse from their close family members who are U.S. citizens or green card holders. VAWA protects both women and men.
If you have filed for VAWA and have received an approval, you will be able to file for your green card. In order to be eligible for the green card, you must have received your immigrant visa under VAWA, meet all the other requirements of a green card, and be able to demonstrate that you are a person of good moral character. One of the benefits of obtaining a green card through VAWA is that you do not have to leave the country for consular processing even if you initially entered the U.S. without permission.
How Much does it cost?
Green cards are complex, so the price varies based on the specifics of our case, which is why we offer free consultations. Our prices are competitive with other immigration attorneys in Los Angeles.
Frequently Asked Questions About Green Cards
It depends on the crime you were charged or convicted of, the amount of time you spent in jail or prison, and your green card eligibility. For example, there are some crimes that are not a problem if you are applying for a U Visa or self-petitioning under VAWA. However, those same crimes may prevent you from receiving a green card through your family member. Each case is different so it’s crucial to have yours analyzed by an experienced immigration attorney.
It depends. If you are eligible for a green card because you have a U Visa or have received protections under VAWA, then you will be able to get a green card in the U.S. even though you entered without papers. If you are seeking a green card through a family member but entered the country without papers, you will most likely have to leave the U.S. and attend the interview at the American consulate in your home country. We screen all our clients to see if there are any possible routes that would allow you to receive your papers in the U.S. without having to leave.
It depends on the type of relief that is available to you. In most cases, we need at least a copy of your foreign passport, any entry documents into the U.S., any pending applications or immigration forms filed with the U.S. government, proof of your last entry to the U.S. if available, copies of any visas issued to you by the U.S. government, and any and all criminal documents, if applicable. There are many other documents that our office collects from you in order to submit a complete application.
If you entered the country without papers and a family member filed a petition for you before April 30, 2001, you may be eligible to receive your green card without leaving the country. If you fall in this category, it’s crucial that you hire an immigration lawyer so that all the paperwork can be processed correctly.