How Can I Help My Relative Become a Lawful Permanent Resident?

How Can I Help My Relative Become a Lawful Permanent Resident?
immigration, permanent, lawful, status, visa, states, children, united, lprs, sponsors

Helping a relative become a lawful permanent resident (LPR) in the United States is a significant step towards securing their future and reuniting family members. This process starts with determining eligibility, filing the necessary petitions, and navigating through the complexities of visa bulletins and preference categories. Given the intricacies of immigration law, understanding the legal requirements is crucial.

Each step must be carefully executed to ensure compliance with U.S. immigration policies, and even small errors can lead to delays or denials. Considering the stakes, seeking the guidance of an immigration lawyer is invaluable. An Orlando family immigration lawyer can provide personalized advice, help avoid common pitfalls, and work toward a successful outcome. 

Understanding Lawful Permanent Residency

A lawful permanent resident (LPR) is someone who has been granted the right to live indefinitely within the United States without being a U.S. citizen. This status is commonly known as holding a “green card.”

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Benefits and Responsibilities of Being an LPR

As a lawful permanent resident, you can:

  • Work Legally: LPRs can work in the U.S. without needing an employer-sponsored visa.
  • Access Education: They have access to public education and may qualify for in-state tuition rates at colleges and universities.
  • Apply for Citizenship: LPRs can apply for U.S. citizenship after meeting certain residency and eligibility criteria.

These benefits come with many rights, but they also have responsibilities to the U.S.:

  • Obey All Laws: LPRs must obey all laws of the United States, the states, and localities.
  • File Taxes: They are required to file U.S. income tax returns.
  • Support Democracy: LPRs should support the democratic form of government and not change the government through illegal means. Please note that your residency status does not allow you to vote in elections.

For additional rights and responsibilities associated with this status, you can review the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services page on this topic.

Differences Between LPR and Other Immigration Statuses

If your loved one does not qualify for permanent resident status, there are other visas that may allow them to come visit you in the United States. Nonimmigrant statuses are for individuals who enter the U.S. for a temporary period and are restricted by the terms of their visa, unlike LPRs, who have no time restrictions or purpose limitations on their stay. For example, tourist or student visas allow immigrants to visit and stay in the United States for a specific purpose and timeframe.

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Eligibility Criteria for Sponsoring a Relative for Lawful Permanent Residency

Becoming a lawful permanent resident (LPR) in the United States is a process that begins with understanding who is eligible for sponsorship and the criteria that sponsors must meet. Here’s a breakdown of the key elements:

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Categories of Relatives Who Can Be Sponsored

Not every family member is eligible, depending on your immigration status. Citizens and permanent residents have different sponsorship guidelines, and the government has preference categories that prioritize certain family members and relationships:

  • Immediate Relatives of U.S. Citizens, including spouses, unmarried children under the age of 21, and parents of U.S. citizens who are 21 years or older.
  • Unmarried children of U.S. citizens and their children
  • Spouses, minor children, and unmarried children (over 21) of LPRs
  • Married children of U.S. citizens, along with their spouses and minor children
  • Siblings of U.S. citizens, along with their spouses and children, provided the U.S. citizen is at least 21 years old.

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has more details on family preference categories on its website

Sponsors and Their Responsibilities

Only U.S. citizens and current LPRs are eligible to sponsor relatives for immigration. The sponsor’s status significantly impacts the priority and eligibility of the application. Sponsors must demonstrate the ability to support the immigrant by submitting an affidavit of support. This document proves the sponsor’s financial stability, ensuring the immigrant will not become a public charge.

The sponsor is legally obligated to support the immigrant until they become a U.S. citizen, work for 10 years, die, or leave the United States permanently. Additionally, if the immigrant receives certain public benefits, the sponsor may be required to reimburse the costs to the agency that provided the benefits.

Understanding these criteria is crucial for successfully navigating the path to helping a relative become an LPR. Sponsors should carefully consider their ability to meet these requirements before proceeding with the application process.

Applying for Lawful Permanent Residency

The journey toward securing lawful permanent residency for a relative involves a structured application process, comprising several key steps:

Filing a Petition and Waiting for a Visa Number

The sponsor begins by filing Form I-130 with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), establishing a valid family relationship. Please note that there’s a fee for filing Form I-130, and processing times can vary based on the familial relationship and USCIS workload.

Submissions must include proof of the sponsor’s citizenship or LPR status, proof of the familial relationship (birth certificates, marriage certificates), and any other required documents.

Depending on the relative’s category, there may be a wait for a visa number due to annual caps. Sponsors and beneficiaries should monitor the State Department’s monthly Visa Bulletin for their priority date to become current. The Visa Bulletin also allows them to check the status in the queue.

Applying for the Green Card

When applying for a green card, applicants can either adjust their status or go through consular processing. If the relative is in the U.S., they may adjust their status using Form I-485. If outside, they’ll undergo consular processing in their home country. Both paths require an interview, submission of additional documentation, and payment of fees.

Applicants must also complete a medical examination by an approved physician and have all required vaccinations.

Choosing the right path, timely submission of documentation, and careful monitoring of visa bulletins are crucial to navigating the application process efficiently.

Let Our Attorneys Help Your Relatives Become Lawful Permanent Residents

Navigating the journey to lawful permanent residency often presents challenges such as long wait times, inadmissibility issues, and changes in personal circumstances. Our immigration lawyers can help you or a loved one make changes to immigration statuses, apply for a visa or green card, and complete many other tasks related to immigration. We will keep you up to date with any changes to the process and any missing requirements. Let us help your relatives become residents; call Bogin, Munns & Munns today to get started.

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