There are a number of ways that immigrants can apply for green cards or citizenship. Applying for either a green card or U.S. citizenship can take years or even decades, particularly for those who are low income or do not have a high level of education. Waiting in line is simply not an option for some, or for those who are already living in the U.S. but are unregistered. In some cases, an individual may be able to seek political asylum or may be eligible for refugee status. However, the fastest and most straightforward way of obtaining legal residency is through family-based immigration. Family-based immigration is only available to people who have a registered family member currently residing in the United States.
In order to be eligible for family-based immigration, the immigrant must have a family member living in the U.S. who has or is one of the following:
U.S. citizens have the best chances of getting their loved one legal residency. Their spouses, children of any age and marital status, parents, siblings, and certain other relatives can apply for family-based immigration. The loved ones of green card holders must be a spouse or unmarried child in order to be eligible. The spouses and children of asylees, refugees, and U-visas are eligible in some circumstances, though family-based immigration is much more difficult for the family members of asylees, refugees, and U-visa applicants.
Since 2013, the wait time for a U.S. citizenship application has doubled to 10 months, according to Immigration Impact. The backlog of applications has also more than doubled in that time to 750,000. This is simply the waiting time for an application to be processed. The actual number of years that it may take to “wait in line” for citizenship depends on many other factors, including the immigrant’s country of origin and level of education. According to the CATO Institute, an Indian resident with an advanced degree has an estimated wait time of 151 years due to the convoluted and, for many unfair, way that U.S. immigration policy is run. Family-based immigration can sometimes help people bypass this long wait time. For those already living in the U.S. without legal residency, family-based immigration is the only option.
An Ottawa County family immigration lawyer with Kriezelman Burton & Associates, LLC can help explain this process to you in greater detail. Call our law offices at 312-332-2550 today to set up a free consultation with an Ottawa County family immigration lawyer.
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