Family-based immigration benefits

United States citizens and lawful permanent residents (also called “LPRs” or“ green card holders”) can petition for green card status for certain, qualifying members.   There are two main types of family-based immigration cases – immediate relative cases and preference-based cases.

Immediate relatives provide the most direct path of family-based immigration.  These are cases in which a U.S. citizen petitions for a spouse or, if the citizen is 21 years or older, the citizen’s father or mother. For example, an affianced U.S. citizen and a non-immigrant visaholder may decide to marry and continue their lives together in the U.S.  Such couples often prefer the immediate relative green card option as compared to an employment-based green card case, due to the shorter processing time.

There are also family-based cases that involve the preference system. Unlike immediate relatives, preference-based petitions are subject to a wait for the green card after approval of the underlying petition.  The wait after the approval of the underlying petition in family-based preference cases is generally determined by two factors: 1) country of birth and 2) category of qualifying relationship forming the basis of the petition.  The U.S. State Department issues a monthly bulletin, called the “Visa Bulletin”, which announces the length of the wait on a monthly basis.  Click here to access the Visa Bulletin on our Resources page.

Side note:  The B-1/B-2 visa is a non-immigrant visa pursued on an individual basis.  It is not a family-based immigration benefit per se. However, the B-1/B-2 visa is oftentimes the most appropriate and expedient visa for family members living abroad to enter the U.S. and visit their non-immigrant visa-holder relatives in the United States on a temporary basis.   We provide counsel to individuals and families in these situations as well as in green card cases.

“Kristen’s services as an immigration attorney are excellent. She is very professional and knowledgeable, and always provides complete and timely answers to all questions regarding your case. I highly recommend her.”

Luis Guillermo Serpa

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