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Family Immigration Lawyers in Boston, MA for Applying for U.S. Residency / Green Card for a Family Member

Family Immigration Attorney Desmond FitzGerald explains who you can file a family residency petition for

U.S. Residency / Green Card for family members

What is a Family Residency / Green Card process in the U.S.?

This is the process by which U.S. citizens and permanent residents can request that permanent residency be granted for their immediate family members (spouses, parents, children, brothers and sisters), given they can demonstrate that they can financially support them in the U.S.

What family members are eligible to obtain Residency in the U.S. and how long are the estimated wait periods for a Green Card?

There are two categories of family immigration petitions: relatives of U.S. citizens and relatives of legal permanent residents:

U.S. Residency for relatives of U.S. citizens

U.S. citizens may file family based immigration petitions on behalf of the following family member: (please note there may be a mandatory “waiting” period for applications filed in the U.S. and consular processing will require additional time and procedures):

  • Residency for spouse of U.S. citizen: 6-12 months processing time (however, work permit and travel authorization is granted within 60 – 90 days from filing of the applications if eligible for adjustment of status);
  • U.S. Green Card / Residency for parent of U.S. Citizen: 8-12 months processing time (however, work permit and travel authorization is granted within 60 – 90 days from filing of the applications if eligible for adjustment of status);
  • Green Card for unmarried children of U.S. citizens under 21 years of age (including step children): 6-12 months processing time (however, work permit and travel authorization is granted within 60 – 90 days from filing for work authorization if eligible for adjustment of status). Children under 18 years old at the time the Legal Permanent Resident status is granted may be eligible for automatic U.S. citizenship.
  • U.S. Residency / Green Card for children over 21 years of age of U.S. citizens (including step children): 2-3 years processing time and an additional “waiting” period as noted in the U.S. Visa Bulletin (generally 7-8 years from date petition is filed)
  • U.S. Residency / Green Card for married children of U.S. citizens (including step children): 2-4 years processing time and an additional “waiting” period as noted in the U.S. Visa Bulletin (generally 10-12 years from date petition is filed)
  • U.S. Residency / Green Card for siblings (brothers and sisters) of U.S citizens: 3-6 years processing time and an additional “waiting” period as noted in the U.S. Visa Bulletin (generally 12-14 years from date petition is filed)

Residency (Green Card) for Relatives of U.S. Legal Permanent Residents

U.S. Legal Permanent Residents may file family based immigration petitions on behalf of the following family members: (the wait times are for applications filed in US, Consular Processes may require additional waiting time and procedures):

  • Green Card / U.S. Residency for spouse of U.S. citizen: 6-12 months processing time and 2 year “wait” period
  • U.S. Residency / Green Card for unmarried child of U.S. resident under 21 (including step children):6-12 months processing time and 2 year “wait” time.
  • Green Card / U.S. Residency unmarried child  of U.S. resident over 21 (including step children): 1-3 years processing time and 8-9 years “wait” time.

**The estimated wait times are based on our experience and the U.S. Visa Bulletin. They are subject to change depending on the location and volume of cases handled by a particular U.S. Immigration Service center. U.S. Residency/Green Card Petitions for immigrants from certain countries, i.e. China, India, Mexico and the Philippines generally take longer than the estimated times above (see Visa Bulletin for those estimates). Our family immigration lawyers can help you to determine if your family is eligible to apply for the U.S. Green Card.

What is the duration of a family U.S. Residency / Green Card?

Once permanent residency is approved it will remain valid as long as the person continues to reside the majority of the time in the U.S. and complies with the legal conditions for U.S. legal permanent residency.

Renewability of a family Green Card

U.S. legal permanent residency status never expires as long as you continue to meet the U.S. residency eligibility conditions as stated in your residency application. However, the green card (or evidence of permanent residency) expires every 10 years and it is recommended that it be renewed six months before expiration. Our experienced family immigration lawyers can help with the renewal process of a family green card or marriage green card.

Family Benefits of a U.S. Residency

The immediate family of the applicant may be eligible to obtain U.S. permanent residency with all its benefits, at the same time the applicant receives it. Permanent residency allows all family members to live, study and/or work legally in the U.S.

What documentation do I need to apply for U.S. Residency for family members?

  1. Birth Certificates – Original (translated if necessary)
    • Beneficiary (Alien)
    • Citizen (Petitioner)
  2. Copy of original/certified Marriage Certificate (translated if necessary) [Marriage Certificate of Parents if it is a Parent/Child or Child/Parent petition]
  3. Copy of original/certified Divorce Certificate(s) (if applicable) (translated if necessary)
  4. Copy of Petitioner’s Federal Tax Return – Last Year and W-2’s, 1099 & schedule C’s from 2-3 years ago
  5. Joint Sponsor (if Petitioner does not meet income requirements)
    • Copy of complete federal tax return withW-2’s from last year
    • Copy of evidence of Citizenship or Legal Permanent Resident status
  6. Photographs
    • 2 Passport-style photographs of the Petitioner
    • 6 Passport-style photographs of the Beneficiary
  7. Copy of Passport for Beneficiary
  8. Evidence of 245(i) Eligibility (if necessary)
  9. Copy of any court records for the Alien
  10. Copy of any prior applications or records related to immigration matters
  11. Copy of I-94 Form – If applicable

What is the process to obtain a U.S. Residency for the members of my family?

There are three different procedures depending upon the status of the petitioner, their relationship with the beneficiary and individual circumstances of the applicants. Navigating through each stage requires the skill and guidance of one of our experienced family immigration lawyers. Read more on the family Green Card / Residency process.

What are the USCIS Filling Fees needed?

You will need to pay the filing fees for forms (I-130), (I-485), (fingerprints), and if applicable, the penalty fee for (I-485A). Visit the U.S. Immigration and Citizen Services website to verify the fees as these change regularly.

Important additional issues

It is important that any person filing a family- based residency petition, both the petitioner and the beneficiary properly file taxe returns with all income reported, the correct filing status (generally not “head of household”) and evidence to support any deductions.

Generally the family of the petitioner and beneficiary (all members of household) should not be receiving financial assistance (housing, WIC, freeCare, heat/electricity/gas, daycare, food-stamps) and if there are or have been benefits make sure that all income is reported on any benefit application.

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