Under the current Donald Trump administration, legal status or a green card for any immigrant has become a prized possession. As some would say, as precious as silver or gold! But what are the ways for immigrants, including those now living in an undocumented capacity, to get a permanent resident card or green card in Trump’s America?
Based on a number of questions from several immigrants recently, I will, over the next eight weeks, be exploring eight ways a card can be obtained legally under current immigration laws and based on information obtained from the U.S. Immigration and Citizenship Services. This information will also spare many from becoming victims of fraud.
So let’s start this week with Option 1: Green card through a family member.
A U.S. citizen can sponsor a fiancée or fiancé, spouse, a child under the age of 21, a sibling or a parent for a green card. Additionally, a U.S. citizen child can sponsor a parent or parents and a U.S. citizen parent can sponsor a child or children, unmarried and under the age of 21, as well as married.
The spouse of a U.S. citizen, an unmarried child under the age of 21 of a U.S. citizen and the parent all are deemed “immediate relatives” to a U.S. citizen, meaning the application processing time will be faster, with the beneficiary getting a work permit in approximately three months.
The processing time will be a lot longer for a U.S. citizen sponsoring a married son or daughter or an unmarried child older than 21 or a brother or sister, which can take almost a decade.
Under this family member category as well, a U.S. citizen can bring a fiancé or fiancée as well as a child or children to the U.S. under a K-1 non-immigrant visa. The green card will come once they get married within 90 days of entry in the U.S. and the U.S. citizen petitions for a green card on the spouse’s behalf.
Also benefiting from a green card through marriage is the widow or widower of a U.S. citizen, if they were married at the time the spouse died.
Additionally, if you are an abused spouse married to a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident, you may also be able to get a green card under the Violence Against Women Act by filing as a self-petitioner and victim of battery or extreme cruelty. An abused child or abused parent of a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident may also qualify under this category.
But it’s not only U.S. citizens who are allowed to sponsor relatives for green cards or permanent status. Permanent residents or green card holders can also petition for a spouse, an unmarried child under the age of 21 or an unmarried child who is 21 years old or older, but the processing time from application to green card takes a lot longer—almost 18 months to two years in some instances.
An attorney or immigration consultant can help you fill out form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, accurately and highlight all the necessary supporting documents and fees. The filing fee for an I-130 petition is currently $535. If the person you are sponsoring is already in the U.S., then you will also have to file form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status, and pay another fee of $1,140. A biometric services fee of $85 is also required for applicants between 14 and 79 years of age.
Look out for Option 2 next week, in the Eight Ways To Get A Green Card In Trump’s America series!
The writer is CMO at Hard Beat Communications, Inc., which owns the brands NewsAmericasNow, CaribPRWire and InvestCaribbeanNow.