You can petition for a relative and obtain a green card if you are:
1. an immediate relative (i.e., a spouse, parent or unmarried child under the age of 21) of a U.S. citizen;
2. an unmarried son or daughter (i.e., over the age of 21)of a U.S. citizen;
3. a spouse or unmarried child under the age of 21 of a legal permanent resident (i.e., a green card holder);
4. an unmarried son or daughter (i.e., over the age of 21) of a legal permanent resident;
5. a married child, of any age, of a U.S. citizen; or
6. a brother or sister of a U.S. citizen where the U.S. citizen is at least 21 years of age.
Those individuals in numbers 2-6 referenced above are called preference relatives, as there are only a finite amount of visas allocated each year per category and per country limits per category. If the person you are petitioning, called a beneficiary, is residing outside of the United States, the person must go through a process known as consular processing. In this process, the petition, once approved, is forwarded to the National Visa Center, where it stays until a visa number for the beneficiary becomes available for them based upon the date they filed their petition.
The Department of State publishes a monthly bulletin indicating the filing dates of the petitions they are currently processing. You can use the visa bulletin, and your filing date, to get some idea of how long it will take to go to the next process. However, it is difficult to know exactly when your petition will be further processed as these dates are constantly changing. Just because an immigrant visa number is available for a particular category based upon a specific filing date this month does not mean an immigrant visa number will be available next month for a filing date that is 30 days later (e.g., if visa number is available for filing date March 3, 2016, it does not mean that a visa number will be available in one month for a filing date of April 3, 2016).
Once a visa number becomes available, an Immigrant Visa Application and an Affidavit of Support will be filed with the NVC. The Affidavit of Support is required to show the petitioner has sufficient funds so the beneficiary will not become a public charge (i.e., file for public benefits, such as welfare) when they are present in the United States. The file will then be forwarded to the nearest U.S. consulate, hence the name consular processing. The file will be reviewed and, after you comply with all of the filing requirements, you will be scheduled for an interview. Your interview will be at the U.S. consulate.
If you are inside the United States, and eligible, you will go through what is called an adjustment of status instead of consular processing. With adjustment of status, you file an Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status, as well as other documents, and have your interview at the nearest U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services office to your U.S. residence.
Immediate relatives are not subject to the above-referenced visa number limitations; a visa number is immediately available to them. However, you will have to wait for your petition to be
processed as there may be many petitions filed ahead of your petition. You can check how long it will take to process your particular petition by viewing the processing times on the USCIS website.
Do you need help in obtaining a green card through your U.S. citizen or legal permanent resident relative? Please contact a Woodland Hills immigration attorney for a consultation so we can help you with your case. In addition to Woodland Hills, we provide immigration attorney services in a variety of other areas, including Agoura Hills, Alhambra, Burbank, Calabasas, Canoga Park, Eagle Rock, Encino, Glendale, La Cañada Flintridge, Los Angeles, Mission Hills, Monterey Park, North Hollywood, Northridge, Pasadena, Reseda , San Fernando , Santa Clarita, Sherman Oaks, Tarzana, Thousand Oaks, Valley Village, Van Nuys, Warner Center, Winnetka, and West Hills. Even if your city is not listed, please don’t hesitate to contact us to see if we can help. Since immigration law is federal, we can help you wherever you live in the United States.