Permanent residency, better known as “the green card”, is provided to the immediate family members of American citizens and residents. Each relationship has a category and each category has a specific waiting period based on the number of people applying during a particular year. There are several very important points to understand and assimilate.  A resident does not have the same priorities as a citizen. – In the United States the concept of immediate family is limited to spouses, children and parents of American citizens. – Children older than 21 are not considered immediate family.

The concept of immediate family only encompasses parents, spouses, children, legitimate, adopted or illegitimate but recognized under the laws of their country of origin, step-parents and step-children. If your child is born in the United States, he/she can only petition for you when he/she turns 21. If your mother marries an American citizen, her husband can petition you if you were under 16 years of age when the marriage took place. A lot of people ask me if the brothers and sisters of American citizens (NOT RESIDENTS) can be petitioned. The answer is “of course you can” but there is a little problem: you have to wait 15 years for the process to get your residency. In addition to this, you are running the risk of not obtaining a tourist visa or student visa while this process takes place. Major confusion surrounds marriage to American citizens. Generally speaking, you will get the residency at the time of the interview with INS, but you will be required to demonstrate that you married for love and affection, that you live with your partner in conjugal bliss and that your finances are completely shared. Children are also “great proof”. If a couple has not been married for 2 years by the interview date with USCIS, they will have to remove their conditional residency at the end of the 2-year period.

As you can see there are several essential points that have to be kept in mind when discussing family based petition for permanent residency. In the majority of the cases the end result is a positive outcome but please be aware that you need to meet and fulfill certain USCIS’ requisites of time, documents and personal characteristics. My best advise, set up an appointment with an immigration attorney to discuss the details of your case.


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E-mail:  Canero Lammers Immigration Law Group