When one comes to the United States as an immigrant (green card holder) or on a temporary, nonimmigrant visa, they are usually allowed to have their qualifying family members accompany them. If the green card is obtained while in the United States, or if the nonimmigrant visa is obtained in the United States, the person approved for the green card or one that obtains a nonimmigrant visa can petition and have their qualifying relatives get their own green cards or their own nonimmigrant visas. At Minsky, McCormick & Hallagan, we assist clients in the Chicago area in obtaining visas for their qualifying family members.
Under US immigration law, family members of qualifying relatives can be given legal immigration status, but who qualifies and how quickly they can get the status depends on where they fall under the various categories:
A person is an “immediate relative” if they are a relative of a United States citizen in any of the following familial relationships:
A person who is in any of these relationships can apply for a green card based on the relationship, and their application will be processed much faster than anyone who applies for permanent residency (green card) under any of the other family categories.
If a relative is not an immediate relative, then they may still obtain a green card through another category referred to as the “preference category.” These relatives fall into any of the following preference categories:
The family immigration process starts with the US citizen or green card holder filing a petition with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to have their relative considered for a green card. This petition must provide evidence that the relationship exists and that it is genuine and not for purposes of circumventing US immigration law.
If the petition is for an immediate relative, then it can be filed together with an application for a green card for the relative. Once the petition and applications are received, then if the relative is in the United States, they will be given a work permit and can lawfully work while the petition and application are being processed.
In all other cases, the application for a green card can only be submitted after the underlying petition is approved.
If you are in the Chicago area and wish for a qualifying relative to be considered for a green card, contact us today to talk to one of our immigration officers about your case.