Can I Get a Green Card?
Authored by: Aneliya Angelova
Immigration can be a complex and time consuming process. The most common questions clients ask are "Can I get a green card?" and "How can I help my relative immigrate to the United States?" The answers to these questions are not as simple as they may seem. I will address these questions in order.
"Can I get a green card?" – the answer to this question without more facts is always "It depends." It depends on the specific facts and circumstances of every case. In order to determine whether a client is eligible to obtain permanent residency ( a green card), I need to ask a series of questions including but not limited to the following:
1. "What is your current immigration status?"
2. "How did you enter the United States?" The answer to this question is extremely important because if a potential immigrant entered without inspection (CBP inspection), he/she is most likely inadmissible for purposes of adjustment of status (green card). However, even if the individual is inadmissible, the law provides certain remedies for people who entered without inspection. Waiver of Inadmissibility (I-601) is one of those remedies. Therefore, I need to inquire and ask more questions in order to determine whether the client may be eligible to apply for a waiver. The next questions would typically be:
3. "Do you have any relatives who are US citizens or US permanent residents?" Again, this is an important question because the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) provides many avenues for family immigration.
4. "Have you ever been convicted, charged, or arrested?"
These questions are just a few examples of important questions that immigration lawyers ask while evaluating a client's case.
With respect to the clients' second major inquiry, "How can I help my relative get a green card," the answer often depends on the client's current status in the United States and the familial relationship between the client and his/her relative. US Citizens may sponsor the following relatives for lawful permanent residence (green cards): 1) spouses; 2) children (unmarried and under 21); 3) parents; 4) brothers and sisters; 5) Adult sons and daughters; 6) fiancé/fiancee. US permanent residents may sponsor the following relatives for lawful permanent residence (green cards): 1) spouses; 2) children (unmarried and under 21); 3) unmarried sons and daughters. Additionally, non-immigrant visa holders can often bring their dependent spouses and children to the United States.
Please note that the above referenced avenues to bring a family member in the United States are not the only possible avenues for obtaining an immigrant or non-immigrant visa. Immigration is a complex and fast changing area of the law. You may not even know you are eligible for a certain immigrant or non-immigrant benefit or status. Many people are now aware of the following options: E-1 (treaty traders), temporary protection status or TPS, T- visa (victims of human trafficking and other crimes), U-visa (victims of criminal activity), humanitarian parole , asylum and withholding of removal, VAWA petition, deferred action, deferred enforced departure, cancellation of removal, etc.). Please note that you may or may not be eligible for the above-referenced immigrant or non-immigrant status.
Due to the complex and fast changing nature of immigration law, it is always best to consult with an immigration lawyer who can evaluate your case and explore the available immigration avenues.
Authored by: Aneliya Angelova