Mississippi families who are struggling to find a way of keeping their loved ones in the United States are often anxious about potential separation that could leave some family stranded in another country. Although obtaining a Green Card is a lengthy process, it is one step closer to obtaining citizenship. It is also a path forward not only for immediate family members, but also more distant family relations.
As immigration laws in the United States are constantly changing, it is essential for residents of Madison County and surrounding areas to know where to find out more about the immigration process and how it applies to their unique situation.
Green Card eligibility
A Green Card, or Permanent Resident Card, allows non-citizens to legally reside and travel within the United States if they fall under one of a number of categories. Although many Green Card holders initially entered the country on a visa, and a Green Card is definitely not the same as a visa, it basically acts as a quasi-permanent resident visa.
There are many categories of eligibility for those seeking a Green Card, including:
- Refugee, asylum, victims of abuse, or human trafficking status
- Diversity lottery
- Continuous residency in the country for an extended period
Categories for family-based immigration
There are two kinds of family-based immigration, one for immediate family and one for more distant relatives. Most people know about immediate relative visas for close family of a U.S. citizen such as a spouse, unmarried child under 21 years of age, or other immediate family. This category also includes an orphan either from within the United States or from another country whom a U.S. citizen plans to adopt, or the parents over the age of 21 years of U.S. citizens.
Eligibility for more distant relations, called “family preference immigrant visas,” fall into four First Family Preferences:
- Unmarried sons and daughters of U.S. citizens, including the unmarried children of these applicants
- Minor children, spouses and unmarried children of lawful permanent residents
- Married children of U.S. citizens and their children
- Adult siblings, including their children, of U.S. citizens
Immigration laws are complex and the process can be challenging, especially when the applicant is not certain of what forms to fill out, what documentation is necessary, or the deadlines for submitting petitions. It is wise to learn about the process to avoid costly and time-consuming errors that could delay a relative’s entry into the country.