Vasquez Law Firm, PLLC is your immigration lawyer of choice for US immigration and visas in North Carolina & Florida. Our immigration visa attorneys provide expert legal counsel for all aspects of immigration law, including deportation defense, writs of habeas corpus and mandamus, family-sponsored immigration, permanent residence, naturalization, consular visa processing, waivers, and appeals.
Vasquez Law Firm is dedicated to immigration law. Our firm commits all of its efforts to the vast areas of immigration visa law. America’s political landscape changes with each President, so staying on top of immigration law is a full time job for our immigration visa lawyers. An immigrant in the United States needs the best representation possible to be able to overcome many obstacles that arise.
For people wanting to know how an immigrant visa (also referred to as permanent residency or a “green card”) can be obtained through a family member through Family Immigration.
Citizens and permanent residents of the United States have the ability to petition the federal government for an immigrant visa for certain family members. US citizens can petition for more categories of family members than permanent residents can. The amount of time between the date the petition is filed and the date when the family member actually obtains the immigrant visa can vary wildly – anywhere from 6 months to 20 years or more. The wait time is determined by the immigration status of the petitioner (are they a citizen or a permanent resident?), the category of family member they are petitioning, and what country the family member is from.
An experienced immigration visa attorney can help you better understand the details, but here are the names and descriptions of the family-member categories that citizens and permanent residents may petition for:
Every year, the US government authorizes a set number of immigrant visas for the family-based categories. Every year, more citizens and permanent residents file petitions for their family members than there are immigrant visas authorized. This has created a years-long backlog in the system.
The government assigns each of the different types of family petitions a priority. Some family relationships have a higher priority than others, meaning those family members will generally get their permanent residency faster. The government also prioritizes the petitions for immigrant visas based on the country that the family member is immigrating from. Mexico, China, India, and the Philippines have individual waiting times because family members from these countries account for many of the requested immigrant visas.
The family relationship categories with the highest priority have a special name. They’re called “immediate relatives.” The spouses, unmarried children under 21 years old, and parents of US citizens are immediate relatives. Immediate relatives have immigrant visas instantly available to them. Once the initial petition by the US citizen is approved by US Citizenship and Immigration Services, the immediate relative may immediately file an application for the immigrant visa – sometimes it can even be filed together with the initial petition.
Those family relationships which are not immediate relatives are called “preference categories.” The people in preference categories must wait until an immigrant visa is available for them before they can apply for one. Every petition filed by a citizen or permanent resident which is approved is given a priority date (generally, it’s the date on or near when the petition was received by USCIS). The US Department of State publishes a visa bulletin every month which lists each preference categories with a date. Immigrant visas are available to anyone in that preference category whose priority date is earlier than the date on the visa bulletin. Waiting for a priority date to become current can take many years.
Once an immigrant visa is available to the intending immigrant family member, other factors such as the person’s US immigration history, criminal history, and current location will determine where he or she qualifies for permanent residency and where the application should be filed – inside or outside of the United States.
It is important that you consult with a visa immigration lawyer who is experienced in visas and US immigration law before filing petition or application with the government. The team of attorneys at Vasquez Law Firm, lead by our Founder and Managing Partner, William Vasquez, is ready to help you with your case.
Certain people battered by their US Citizens and Legal Permanent Resident family members may qualify for an immigrant visa. If you have questions, an immigration visa lawyer can help.
Immigration through a US citizen or permanent resident family member usually requires that the citizen or permanent resident file a petition and see the immigration process through to the end, often with an interview conducted by USCIS. This means that the citizen or permanent resident has complete control of the immigration process for their family member; they must be the one to initiate the process and can terminate it at any time. In relationships where domestic violence exists, this control can be abused by the citizen or permanent resident as one more way to hurt their family member through threats of revoking or delaying the immigration process, or of deportation.
Congress passed the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) in order to help undocumented victims of domestic violence gain permanent resident status independently of their abusive citizen or permanent resident family member.
The categories of people who can file VAWA petitions are:
A VAWA petition is filed on Form I-360 and requires fairly extensive documentation. There are specific requirements that have to be proven in order for USCIS to approve a VAWA petition. Generally, the requirements are:
If the VAWA petition is approved, the battered spouse, child, or parent may be able to apply for permanent residency based on the petition once the priority date is current. The particular immigration, criminal, and medical history of each applicant must be fully analyzed in order to determine if, how, and when they can apply for a green card.
What are the ways in which someone can become a permanent resident of the United States?
Federal immigration laws allow various ways for a non-citizen of the United States to become a permanent resident. A person with permanent residency (a “green card”) is known as a Legal Permanent Resident (“LPR”) and has the right to live and work in the United States, and to travel in and out of the United States.
The pathways to permanent residency are listed below along with a brief explanation. Please see the other articles on this website in our News section for more detail on any particular method of obtaining permanent residency
If you are the spouse, parent, child, or sibling of a US citizen, or the spouse or unmarried child of a permanent resident, you may be able to become a permanent resident through your family member. Through Family Immigration, the citizen or permanent resident family member would have to file a petition on your behalf with US Citizenship and Immigration Services. If that petition is approved, you may then be able to apply for an immigrant visa (a “green card”).
The amount of time between when the citizen or permanent resident files the petition and when the non-citizen family member actually obtains the immigrant visa can vary wildly – anywhere from 6 months to 20 years or more. The wait time is determined by the immigration status of the petitioner (are they a citizen or a permanent resident?), the type of family member they are petitioning, and what country the family member is from.
Simply having an approved petition, or even multiple approved petitions, does not mean that the non-citizen will actually be able to obtain permanent residency. USCIS must determine that the person qualifies for residency according to a number of factors, including the person’s health, immigration, and criminal histories.
People who have certain skills valuable to US employers can qualify for permanent residence through Business Immigration. There are various eligible categories such as those such as professors, researchers, athletes, entertainers, people with advanced degrees, religious workers, people willing to invest $1 million in a US company, and certain “special immigrants.”
Each different type of worker is prioritized in preference categories, much like with family-based visas. Because of this, there can be a long wait time between the time the employment-based petition is filed and when the person can apply for permanent residency.
Because of the variety of ways that a person can qualify and the requirements that an employer must fulfill in order to petition for permanent residency for a non-citizen worker, an experienced immigration attorney should be consulted before beginning the process.
In some cases a person can file a visa petition for themselves. Recently widowed spouses of US citizens can self-petition, so long as they were married for two years prior to the death of their spouse, apply within two years after the death of their spouse, and have not remarried.
The battered spouses, parents, and unmarried children under 21 of US citizens and the battered spouses and unmarried children under 21 of permanent residents can also self-petition. In order to do so, the battered family member must submit evidence that they have suffered extreme cruelty at the hands of the citizen or permanent resident. The petitions are subject to approval from USCIS.
Asylum can be sought by an individual inside the United States within one year of their arrival. The person must prove that they have a well-founded fear of persecution in their native country based on their race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or membership in a particular social group. Refugees are similar to asylum-seekers except that they apply for refugee status outside of the United States. A person granted asylum or refugee status can apply for permanent residency after one year.
Fifty thousand immigrant visas are authorized every year for the lucky winners of the diversity lottery. The winners are randomly selected by the Department of State and the lottery is open to people from countries with low rates of immigration to the United States.
Legalization programs from the 1980s allowed millions of people to become permanent residents. The application periods for the “amnesty” and Special Agricultural Worker programs of 1986 ended years ago. However, subsequent class action litigation have allowed a narrow group of people to seek permanent residency through those programs even after they ended.
The Nicaraguan Adjustment and Central American Relief Act of 1997 provided immigration benefits for people from Nicaragua, Cuba, El Salvador, Guatemala, and certain Eastern European countries. The application period for NACARA has ended.
Registry is a provision in immigration law which allows an undocumented person who has lived in the United States since January 1, 1972 to apply for permanent residency. The person must be of good moral character and must otherwise qualify to receive permanent residency. A person’s criminal, immigration, or medical history could disqualify them from becoming permanent residents – it is important to speak with an experienced immigration attorney to be sure you qualify.
Permanent residency can be conveyed to an individual through an act of Congress via the introduction of a private bill, but this is extremely rare. A member of Congress must sponsor the bill and introduce it. The bill must voted on and passed just like any other law would be. People who obtain residency through a private bill typically have compelling humanitarian factors in their cases and no other way to legalize their status.
A person who is in removal proceedings before an immigration judge and who has lived in the United States for at least 10 years, has good moral character, has not been convicted of certain crimes, and has a US citizen or permanent resident spouse or parent can stop their deportation if they can prove to the judge that if they are deported, their relative will suffer exceptional and extremely unusual hardship. This is an extremely high standard and consequently few people can meet it. However, if the judge does decide to cancel the deportation, she will also grant permanent residency to the non-citizen.