Get Family Green Cards With the Help of an Experienced Texas Immigration Lawyer
Texas immigration attorneys at The Lozano Law Firm, PLLC help individuals in San Antonio, San Angelo, Eagle Pass and Laredo obtain family green cards for their relatives abroad. Outside of the immediate family, U.S. immigration policy places strict quota limits on how many immigrant visas it will grant to relatives of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents. Having the assistance on your side of an experienced board-certified Texas immigration lawyer may make all the difference over how long it takes to get your family members admitted to the country, or even whether they will be granted a visa at all.
Approval of Your Petition Is Only the First Step to a Family Green Card
The proper application for a family green card is the I-130 Petition for Alien Relative. When a relative is outside the U.S. and is being petitioned to come in as a legal permanent resident, this process is know as Consular Processing. A U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident can use this petition to bring over a member of the immediate family such as a parent, spouse or child, as well as other relatives such as siblings, stepchildren and half-siblings.
Whether a petition is granted and how long the process will take depends mainly on whether the petitioner is a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident, and also what preference category the relative belongs to. Even after the I-130 petition is approved, eligible family members in most cases must still wait until a visa number becomes available; at that point, the relative can apply for an immigrant visa (green card) or adjustment of status to a lawful permanent resident.
U.S. immigration law places family members into separate preference categories for the purpose of granting family green cards. The highest priority goes to immediate relatives, which includes parents, spouses and unmarried children of adult U.S. citizens. Next in line are grown (21 years old or older) but unmarried children of U.S. citizens. The next preference category includes the spouses and unmarried children, including grown but unmarried children, of lawful permanent residents. After those family members come the married children of U.S. citizens, followed by siblings of U.S. citizens.
Consular Processing Forms
Prior to consular processing, your relative will have completed a visa petition and sent it to the National Visa Center (NVC). Once your visa petition is approved, the NVC will be ready to transfer your file to a consulate. However, before your file can be transferred, you will submit a Choice of Address and Agent (Form DS-3032). When you return the Form DS-3032 to the NVC, you will be required to pay a processing fee for your immigrant visa.
Your family member will also receive an Affidavit of Support (Form I-864) for completion. The Affidavit of Support is a promise made by your family member that they will support you, if necessary. This guarantees that you will have some method of support in case you are unable to support yourself for a period of time now and in the future.
There are an array of other forms you may need to complete depending on which embassy you work with. You may also have to take a medical exam. Procedures vary according to country and consulate. When you’ve completed all of the necessary forms, either the NVC or your consulate will contact you for further steps.
Green Card Interview at the Consulate
After submitting all necessary paperwork, you will receive a date to attend an interview at your local U.S. consulate. This notification will come to you in the mail. It will tell you a date and time for your consulate interview. The interview will take place with a consulate official, and you may have a translator there, if necessary. Your attorney can help you prepare for this step in the green card process.
At the consulate interview, they will ask you questions about your past and connections in the United States. Information you submitted on forms to the NVC will be verified. The consulate will have completed medical verifications, criminal background checks, and other historical checks prior to the interview. The consular official may ask you questions about anything you’ve submitted or that has come up in background checks. If you are applying for a visa based on marriage, then the consulate may ask extremely personal questions. It’s best to work with an attorney who can prepare you for the questions that they may ask you at your consulate interview.
Where Will Consular Processing Take Place?
Consular processing is the final step you will take prior to entering the United States. It involves submitting paperwork and an interview to a consulate. However, you may be wondering where your consular processing will take place. Consular processing typically takes place at the U.S. consulate nearest to your residence; however, that is not always the case. You may select a different consulate through the Choice of Address and Agent form as well.
The following situations may make it difficult to determine where your consular processing will take place:
- You are living in the United States.
- You do not have a fixed residence location.
- The country in which you live does not have diplomatic relations with the United States.
There are many options for people in these situations; however, any deviation from normal consular processing procedures may be difficult.
If You Are Currently Living in the United States
If you currently live in the United States, but will be leaving the country to go through consular processing, you will likely be assigned to a consulate nearest to your last place of residence outside of the United States. You may also select the country in which you have citizenship to serve as your consular processing location.
You may be able to show that going to a consulate in your last country of residence would be a hardship. If you can, then you may go to any consulate that will accept your case. You would then go through consular processing in that location. However, proving hardship can be difficult. Hardship is generally reserved for medical necessity, people of advanced age, and people in dangerous political situations. Personal inconvenience or high cost will not be sufficient to prove hardship.
Unlawful Residents Leaving the U.S. for Consular Processing
What if you have stayed in the United States unlawfully and wish to seek a green card? You may need to leave the U.S. in order to go through consular processing. However, for immigrants who have been in the U.S. unlawfully for 180 days or more, leaving the country can subject them to penalties. This may result in a bar from reentering the United States for up to three years. That ban can last up to 10 years if the unlawful stay endured longer than one year.
If you are in the U.S. unlawfully and would like to seek a green card, speak with an immigration attorney. You may have options that will allow you to obtain a green card or go through with consular processing.
Expert Assistance With Your Family Green Cards From a Texas Immigration Lawyer
Regardless of the preference category your relatives are in, there are important reasons for seeking help from an experienced immigration attorney. At The Lozano Law Firm, PLLC, we provide expert assistance at every stage of the process to get your family green cards successfully and in as short a time as possible. If you are in San Antonio, San Angelo, Eagle Pass or Laredo, contact us for help in obtaining family green cards for your relatives.