What is Adjustment of Status?
As a citizen of the United States, you may help a relative become a lawful permanent resident of the United States by obtaining what is often referred to as a “green card.” To do so, you need to sponsor your relative and be able to prove that you have enough income or assets to support your relative(s) when they come to the United States.
A “green card” is the common term for USCIS Form I-551. The term came about shortly after World War II when INS issued a green-colored I-151 card. Even though the card has gone through many changes, it has been commonly known as a “green card” since that time. The colors of the card have changed from green to blue to pink to cream and now back to green.
A green card holder (permanent resident) is someone who has been granted authorization to live and work in the United States on a permanent basis. As proof of that status, a person is granted a permanent resident card, commonly called a “green card.”
U. S. Immigration Laws provide a method for a U. S. citizen or a lawful permanent resident, green card holder, to sponsor the immigration of a family member abroad. The ease and speed in which this can be accomplished depends on the relationship of the family members, whether the spouse is a U. S. citizen or has a “green card,” and the country where the family member is located.
The law creates two broad groups for family members: immediate relatives and family-based preference categories.
In the “immediate relative” category, the petitioner must be a U. S. citizen. The eligible family members include the petitioner’s:
- Parents (if the petitioner is at least 21 years old)
- Unmarried children under the age of 21
The immediate relative category has some advantages over the preference categories. These are:
- No numerical limitations
- Exemptions from bars of:
- Unauthorized employment
- Overstaying one’s visa
- Violating their nonimmigrant status
The problem is that there is no derivative status for immediate relatives. This means that if a person immigrates as an immediate relative parent of a U. S. citizen, that person’s spouse or minor child would not automatically qualify for immigrant visas, but the spouse or minor child of a preference alien would automatically qualify.
If your spouse has entered the United States legally, you and your spouse may concurrently file for the green card. This means that all of the forms are filed at the same time with United States Citizenship and Immigration Services. That means your spouse will not have to leave while the application is in process. If the applications are denied or if an immigration judge has ordered your spouse to leave, your spouse will need to leave or appeal those decisions.
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Thomas J. Geygan, Jr. is admitted to practice in all Ohio courts, the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, United States District Court for the Southern District of Ohio, and all immigration courts. Mr. Geygan’s primary area of practice has been immigration for more than 16 years. If you are in immigration court you need an attorney to explain what your rights and chances are. You need straight answers to difficult questions. Please call Mr. Geygan to get those answers. He has helped many other people, see if he can help you.
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