Family-Based Green Card Process

Family-based immigration is the most common immigration alternative for purposes of gaining entry and lawful permanent resident status in the United States. A lawful permanent resident or U.S. citizen who is 21 years of age or older can file a family-based petition by filing a Form I-130 Petition for Alien Relative. The person who filed is known as the petitioner, and the foreign national relative is the beneficiary. The current filing fee for this purpose with United States Customs and Immigration Services is $535. It’s strongly recommended that the petitioner work with an immigration lawyer here at Maison Law Immigration Lawyers in completing and filing the Form I-130. Errors or omissions in completing the form can result in significant delays or even denial. Our law firm has extensive experience with family-based immigration and permanent residency, and we’ll be pleased to help both petitioners and beneficiaries through the process.

The foreign national who seeks to live in the United States must have an immigrant visa. There are two types of such visas. Those follow:

  • Immediate Relative: These require a close family relationship with a United States citizen. Immediate relatives include a spouse, a child, a brother or sister or a parent. No immigration limits have been put in place for immediate relatives.
  • Family Preference: These include more distant relatives with a U.S. citizen or a lawful permanent resident. There are four preference groups for these relatives, and each such group has its own annual limit.

Form I-485

The proposed beneficiary of a family-based immigration petition is required to complete and submit a Form I-485 Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status. This form operates as the official application for permanent residence. Proposed beneficiaries who are in the United States can file their I-485 at the same time as their I-130. If you’re a beneficiary who is seeking permanent residency, you must file your Form I-485 at your U.S. embassy or consulate. Certain health conditions, criminal convictions, security concerns, previous immigration law violations or other grounds might prevent a person from having their I-485 application approved. USCIS charges $1,225 to file the I-485. That amount includes the biometrics fee.

I-485 Supporting Documentation

For purposes of proving that a beneficiary’s sponsor lawfully resides in the United States and showing a bona fide relationship between the petitioner and beneficiary, documents in support of the I-485 must also be submitted. These are likely to include but not be limited to the following:

  • Proof of a valid visa allowing entry into the United States.
  • Proof of nationality. A copy of the beneficiary’s passport and birth certificate will be sufficient.
  • Satisfactory proof that the petitioner will be able to support the beneficiary along with a properly executed Affidavit of Support, tax returns and pay stubs.
  • If the applicant has ever been arrested, proof of no convictions.
  • Required medical exam results.

Time Frame for I-485 Approval

There are several steps involved in I-485 processing which typically make the time frame 12 to 14 months waiting time. Beneficiaries should receive a Notice of Action within a month of the time that the I-485 is received. Note that there will be a 10-digit code number on the receipt for the form. It can be used for purposes of reference in the future. The next step is a biometrics appointment, and the beneficiary should receive a notice of that appointment about six weeks after filing. The actual appointment might be two months or more after filing. Then, the beneficiary will receive their EAD card that authorizes him to work in the United States.  As an interview is required, a notice of an appointment for this purpose should be received about a year after the I-485 filing. Beneficiaries who are being interviewed should bring the following documents to their appointments:

  • Copies of their I-130 and I-485 documents.
  • Originals of all supporting documents previously submitted.
  • Their EAD card.
  • Their passport and visa.

Processing times here are mere estimates. They might be somewhat shorter or longer, depending on what is needed. With the benefit of the experience of the immigration attorneys at Maison Law Immigration Lawyers, they’re likely to be shorter. Filing of the I-130 and I-485 are complicated and confusing tasks.  We’re confident that we can reduce the time frame involved in obtaining a beneficiary’s lawful permanent residence. You don’t want to proceed alone without an experienced and dedicated immigration attorney. Contact us with your questions or issues. It was immigrants who built the United States. You can continue doing that for the next generation.