It is the general policy of the USCIS to design the immigration processes in such a way so that it will be easy for any category of immigrants to realize their dream. The common dream of these immigrant classes is that of living and working in the US, for which they should first get a green card. As mentioned earlier, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services has laid out so many pathways for an immigrant to become a green card holder. All that an applicant needs to do is ensure that he/she is eligible for it and then choose the most appropriate route for getting it.
Pathways to getting a green card
The most favored ways for getting a green card are as listed below
- Family based green card
- Green card through a job
- Green card through Asylee or Refugee status
Apart from these, there are other ways of getting a green card like, by being victims of human trafficking; being an US Armed Forces member, through the DV lottery program etc. The most sought after and the easiest way of becoming a legal permanent resident of the US is through the family route only.
Getting a family based green card
Before getting to know about this specific process, you need to know the general eligibility criteria required to file in a green card application – You should be eligible for any one of the immigrant categories that is drafted in the INA (Immigration and Nationality Act) and be admissible to the US. You must have your immigrant petition filed in by a suitable sponsor and got it approved. You must also be in possession of a valid immigrant visa, which is immediately available, as a result of the approved immigrant petition.
Once these are taken care of, you can then move on to the specific instructions of getting a family based green card. When you have your immediate family members as US citizens, then you are very lucky. This is because you need not wait in-line for a visa to become available, which is the case for the general category of applicants Also there is no limit prescribed by the USCIS for visas in this category. Ensure that you fall under any of the three categories of relatives to qualify as immediate relatives.
- You are a parent of a US citizen( In this case, your US Citizen child should be at least 21 years of age)
- You are the spouse of a US Citizen
- You are the child (unmarried) of a US citizen who is under the age of 21.
Any other form of relationship with the US citizen will not entitle you with the privilege of not waiting in line for an immigrant visa. However, they will be considered to issue a family based green card with some amount of waiting time for a visa.
I preference category – Unmarried, adult sons/daughters of US citizens (Age -21yrs or
II preference category (A) – Unmarried children (Age- below 21 yrs) and spouses of the
II preference category (B) – Unmarried sons/ daughters of Permanent Residents (age- 21 yrs
III Preference category - Married sons/daughters of US citizens, spouses with their
IV preference Category - Siblings of US citizens, spouses with their minor children
The US citizen or permanent resident should file in USCIS Forms I-130 which is the procedure to petition an alien relative into the US. This should be filed in with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services to establish the qualifying relationship of the Citizen or the permanent resident with the relative. Once this is approved, the USCIS will intimate the US Embassy in the country in which the relative resides. From here on, it is the applicant who has to follow up, in order to get a family based green card. He/she should then file in Form I-485 to adjust to the status of a permanent resident, based on the instructions of that particular embassy.