If you have a very close family member who is either a U.S. citizen or a U.S. permanent resident (i.e., has a "green card"), you may be eligible to immigrate to the U.S. based upon that relationship. An uncle or aunt, nephew or niece, or a cousin who is either a U.S. citizen or a permanent resident, will be unable to file a petition on your behalf as the relationship is too distant. There are several different categories of family-based immigration. They are as follows:
1. Immediate Relative
Spouses, children and parents of adult U.S. citizens qualify as immediate relatives. Under this category, a visa number is immediately available. Thus, there is no waiting list for beneficiaries of immediate relative petitions. Beneficiaries, however, will still have to wait for the petition and the subsequent immigrant visa application (or adjustment of status application if applying within the U.S.) to be processed, which takes a number of months.
For immigration purposes, "child" is defined as an unmarried person under 21 years of age. It includes stepchildren if the child was under 18 years of age when the marriage, which created the status, occurred. It also includes adopted children if the child was under the age of 16 at the time of adoption.
In order to petition for a parent, the U.S. citizen son or daughter must be at least 21 years old.
This category also includes widows and widowers of U.S. citizens, as long as the marriage lasted at least 2 years prior to the death of the U.S. citizen, and the spouse was not legally separated from the U.S. citizen at the time of death. In addition, the spouse of the U.S. citizen must file a petition within two years of the U.S. citizen's date of death and must remain unmarried.
2. First Preference
This category is for unmarried sons and daughters of U.S. citizens. It differs from the immediate relative category in that the beneficiaries are not children (i.e., they are at least 21 years old).
The current wait time for a visa number to become available under this category is a little over five years.
3. Second Preference
This category is broken down into two separate categories:
2A - Spouses and children of U.S. permanent residents; and
2B - Unmarried sons and daughters of U.S. permanent residents.
The current wait time for a visa number to become available under the 2A category is a little over five years. Under the 2B category, it is just under ten years.
4. Third Preference
The Third Preference category is very similar to the First Preference category. The only difference is that beneficiaries in the Third Preference category are married. Thus, it is for married sons and daughters of U.S. citizens.
The current wait time for a visa number to become available under this category is just under eight years.
5. Fourth Preference
Under this category, U.S. citizens who are at least 21 years of age may file petitions on behalf of their brothers and sisters.
The current wait time for a visa number to become available under this category is over eleven years.
HOW TO BECOME A U.S. PERMANENT RESIDENT BASED ON A QUALIFYING RELATIONSHIP
You and Your U.S. Citizen Relative Reside in the U.K., Republic of Ireland, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway or Sweden
If you qualify as an immediate relative and you and your U.S. citizen relative reside in the United Kingdom or one of the other countries listed above, it is strongly recommended that the I-130 Petition for Alien Relative be filed with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services ("USCIS") in London. The processing time is faster than if the petition is filed in the U.S. Upon approval of the I-130 petition, your case will automatically be transferred to the Immigrant Visa Section of the U.S. Embassy in London (or the U.S. Embassy in one of the countries listed above) for the processing of your immigrant visa application. The application process includes a medical examination by a physician approved by the U.S. Embassy and a personal interview with a consular officer at the U.S. Embassy. If your immigrant visa application is approved, you will become a U.S. permanent resident upon your entry to the U.S. with your immigrant visa.
Current I-130 Processing Time at USCIS in London
You Reside Outside the U.S. and Your U.S. Citizen or Permanent Resident Relative Resides Inside the U.S.
If you are outside the United States and your U.S. citizen or permanent resident relative resides in the U.S., an I-130 petition must be first be filed with the USCIS Chicago Lockbox. Upon approval of the I-130 petition, your case will be transferred to the U.S. Department of State's National Visa Center ("NVC"). The NVC will initiate the processing of your immigrant visa application. When the NVC finishes its processing of your immigrant visa application, it will transfer your case to the U.S. Embassy in your home country or where you legally reside. You will then be scheduled for a personal interview at the U.S. Embassy. You will also need to undergo a medical examination by a physician approved by the U.S. Embassy. If your immigrant visa application is approved, you will become a U.S. permanent resident upon your entry to the U.S. with your immigrant visa.
You and Your U.S. Citizen Relative Reside in the U.S
If you are in the United States, qualify as an immediate relative, and are otherwise eligible, you and your U.S. citizen relative may be able to file a one-step (i.e., the I-130 petition and the I-485 application for adjustment of status are concurrently filed) with the USCIS Chicago Lockbox. You will need to undergo a medical examination by a civil surgeon and have your biometrics taken for a background check. If your U.S. relative is your spouse, you will be required to attend a personal interview at the USCIS Field Office with jurisdiction over your place of residence. You will become a U.S. permanent resident upon approval of your I-485 application for adjustment of status.
You and Your U.S. Citizen Relative Reside Outside the U.S., but Not in the U.K.
Filing procedures and processing times vary depending on the country. Many consular posts will accept immediate relative petitions. Processing of the case will then be very similar to the first scenario above where both persons reside in the U.K.
How We Can Help You:
At Ferman Law we will assist you with the preparation of the petition and determine where the petition should be filed. Our goal is to make the entire process as simple and quick as possible for you. Thus, while your petition is pending, we will prepare as much of the immigrant visa application as possible. We closely monitor our cases, and after your petition is approved, we will file your immigrant visa application. We will assist you with collecting the required documentation for your personal interview and prepare you for that interview. If an application for a waiver of inadmissibility is required due to a prior criminal conviction, past immigration violation, a communicable disease, etc., we will discuss with you the feasibility of that application and then advise and assist you in the preparation of the application and supporting documentation.