How can I become a Legal Permanent Resident in the United States?
There are multiple ways to become a Legal Permanent Resident in the United States. In most cases, a family member that is a US Citizen or a Legal Permanent Resident or an employer may petition for you.
As a Legal Permanent Resident and a US Citizen, you are able to file petitions to help your family members immigrate into the United States. The first step is filing an application called the I-130. This petition requires a filing fee and the amount can be found at USCIS.
Legal Permanent Residents are limited as to who they are able to petition for such as:
United States Citizens are able to file petitions for:
Each category comes with different requirements that must be submitted with your application. Failure to include these requirements may result in your application being denied and losing your filing fee.
Petitioning for a spouse has the most requirements than the other two. USCIS wants to make sure that the marriage is a “bona fide” marriage and to satisfy this requirement many joint documents have to be included in your petition. At Burga Law Firm PC we have been very successful in getting Petitions for Spouses approved by USCIS.
There are two processes available to be admitted into the United States as a US Citizen which are Adjustment of Status and Consular Process.
Adjustment of Status for Legal Permanent Residency
If you are a US Citizens or a Green Card holder you can sponsor your Immediate Family member and help them obtain Legal Permanent Residency through a process called Adjustment of Status.
How Do I Qualify for Adjustment of Status?
To adjust status to Legal Permanent Residency, you must first qualify under three different categories:
You have a valid legal entry to the United States
You are the beneficiary of family or employment petition filed prior to April 30, 2001 (INA 245(i))
You were “waived in” at the point of entry (Quilantan)
Once you determine which category applies to you, then you must either have a visa available by looking at the Visa Bulletin or be the beneficiary of a Petition filed by an Immediate Relative such as a Spouse, child or parent. Eligible U.S. citizens may petition for qualifying family members to receive a Green Card or a fiance visa based on your relationship. Legal Permanent Residents are limited to spouses, children under 21 and unmarried sons and daughters. Filing an I-130 petition is only the first step in helping a relative to immigrate to the United States. Eligible family members must wait until there is a visa number available before they can apply to become a lawful permanent resident. That visa number is based on a Visa Bulletin published by the U.S. Department of State.
How long does the Petition take to be approved?
A Petition or I-130 filed with USCIS takes approximately 8 to 10 months to be approved, sometimes sooner. However, if you are eligible for Adjustment of Status then the best thing to do is to file both applications at the same time, this is the I-130 and the I-485 along with the additional forms that are required for Adjustment of Status.
The next step is to determine if you are admissible. The Immigration and Nationality Act describes which types of applicants are inadmissible to get obtain a green card such as certain crimes, prior immigration offenses, health issues and whether you are likely to become a public charge.
At Burga Law Firm PC, we are Adjustment of Status Attorneys and we will provide you with full support to your dependents involved in the Immigration process. We do full preparation for your interview by conducting a mock interview at our office. Our mock interview will help you feel more confident during your interview with the Immigration Officer.
How long does the Adjustment of Status process through USCIS take?
The adjustment of status process can take anywhere from 8 to 10 months. However, in some cases, we have been able to get cases completed in 3 months. This, of course, is out of our control, but rest assured that we'll keep you informed. There are some cases that taken longer than 8 to 10 months. If there is no valid reason for USCIS to keep delaying decisions on people's applications then you can sue USCIS in Federal Court.
Can I travel outside of the country before my Adjustment of Status interview?
We recommend that you let us know in advance that you may need to travel. If you travel without asking for permission from USCIS, your application will be abandoned and you may have to start over again or not be able to return. We will add to your application a form called Advance Parole, which if granted, will allow you to travel outside of the United States and come back for your interview.
Can I work before my interview for Adjustment of Status?
In order to legally work in the United States, you need an Employment Authorization Card (EAC or Work Permit) issued by USCIS. When you apply for Adjustment of Status, USCIS will issue you a Work Permit that it usually arrives prior to your interview. The fees that you paid to DHS for your application include your Work Permit fees. If you need to start working you must first wait for your Employment Authorization or Work Permit.
If you have any more questions about the Adjustment of Status process and to see if you qualify, give us a call! 909 538-8320.
What is the Consular Process?
The consular process allows you to petition for your family members who live or reside abroad. Upon the approval of your petition, you can start the process with the National Visa Center and the U.S. Consulate at your family member's country of residence. An interview will be conducted to determine if your family member is admissible to become a Legal Permanent Resident and live in the United States.
Recent changes have made the Consular Process more difficult than it should be. Consular officers are requesting additional information from applicants, which sometimes can delay the process. Burga Law Firm PC is always up to date with new changes and requirements to help our clients have an easy welcome to the U.S.
Why does my family member have to do consular process if he or she lived in the U.S. for many years?
If your family member is currently in the United States without status and is not eligible to Adjust Status in the United States, he or she would have to go through Consular Process in order to become a Legal Permanent Resident. If your family member entered the United States without a visa, is not grandfather under section 245(i) or is not eligible for Parole in Place or TPS then the only available option to become a Legal Resident is through Consular Process.
What if my family member is not allowed to return after they leave the U.S. for their Consular Interview?
Some applicants are not admissible to the United States so if they leave the United States they may not be able to come back. It is very important that you meet with an experienced Immigration Attorney before your family member leaves the country because there may be something in their immigration or criminal history that will prevent them from being able to come back to the United States.
If the Consular Officer gives you a letter saying you are not admissible, usually the letter will say why you are not admissible. At Burga Law Firm PC we can look at that decision and help you file a Waiver of Inadmissibility. There are several waivers in Immigration that apply to different situations.
How long does the consular process take?
There are several steps in the Consular Process such as filing the I-130, working with the National Visa Center (NVC) and scheduling the interview. The current processing times for an I-130 petition are approximately 6 to 8 months. Then we estimate anywhere from 6 months to a year to have an interview date with the U.S. Consulate. These waiting times have been increasing lately.
Do I need an attorney for the Consular Process?
People may feel that the Consular Process is not too complicated and they may well be able to handle the paperwork on their own. However, an experienced Immigration Attorney is always up to date with any current changes in Consular Process to prevent your family member from being stuck outside of the country for longer than necessary.