Green Card – Legal Permanent Resident
Becoming a Legal Permanent Resident of the United States can be an enormous immigration advantage to people who are trying to integrate into the American culture. Becoming a Legal Permanent Resident (LPR aka Green Card Holder) allows an individual to stay and live within the USA for an indefinite period of time. After 5 years of being a LPR the individual can now apply to be a United States Citizen (3 years if married to a citizen). LPR status is the second best immigration status after becoming a US citizen, assuming you want to live indefinitely in the USA. Because becoming a Legal Permanent Resident has such great advantages it’s not very easy to receive unless you qualify for it. The two main ways to qualify for a Green Card is either through family or work. Once you are given your LPR status, it is yours forever unless you commit a crime which makes you deportable or if you abandon your status.
Family-Based Immigrant Visas
Two groups of family based immigrant visa categories, including immediate relatives and family preference categories, are provided under the provisions of United States immigration law, specifically the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA).
Immediate Relative Immigrant Visas (Unlimited): These visa types are based on a close family relationship with a United States (U.S.) citizen described as an Immediate Relative (IR). The number of immigrants in these categories is not limited each fiscal year. Immediate relative visa types include:
- IR-1: Spouse of a U.S. Citizen – Learn More
- IR-2: Unmarried Child Under 21 Years of Age of a U.S. Citizen
- IR-3: Orphan adopted abroad by a U.S. Citizen – Learn More
- IR-4: Orphan to be adopted in the U.S. by a U.S. citizen – Learn More
- IR-5: Parent of a U.S. Citizen who is at least 21 years old
Family Preference Immigrant Visas (Limited): These visa types are for specific, more distant, family relationships with a U.S. citizen and some specified relationships with a Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR). There are fiscal year numerical limitations on family preference immigrants, shown at the end of each category. The family preference categories are:
- Family First Preference (F1): Unmarried sons and daughters of U.S. citizens, and their minor children, if any. (23,400)
- Family Second Preference (F2): Spouses, minor children, and unmarried sons and daughters (age 21 and over) of LPRs. At least seventy-seven percent of all visas available for this category will go to the spouses and children; the remainder is allocated to unmarried sons and daughters. (114,200)
- Family Third Preference (F3): Married sons and daughters of U.S. citizens, and their spouses and minor children. (23,400)
- Family Fourth Preference (F4): Brothers and sisters of U.S. citizens, and their spouses and minor children, provided the U.S. citizens are at least 21 years of age. (65,000)
Note: Grandparents, aunts, uncles, in-laws, and cousins cannot sponsor a relative for immigration.
Once you establish which category you can apply under you can now begin the long lengthy process with United States Customs and Immigration Services. Depending on many factors the average wait time can vary from 1 – 2 years. Factors to consider when applying for a Green card is whether the beneficiary is currently in the USA legally or not. If the person applying for the Green Card entered illegally they must ask for a waiver to excuse their unlawful presence. Without this waiver they cannot be granted Legal Permanent Resident Status.
If you or a loved one is interested in becoming a Legal Permanent Resident, please feel free to Contact Us and schedule a consultation. Our office can help with the entire process and ensure you do everything correctly.