Scattered Across the Globe: Steps To Bring Your Family Together

Friday, February 21, 2014

Horrors stories of long waits for a green card may tempt some to jump the border illegally, but you may not have to wait at the back of the line if you are a relative of a United States (U.S.) citizen already. U.S. citizens can obtain a green card for their relatives through different channels. As a way to promote family unity in the United States, the government issues numerous green cards to foreign spouses, siblings, and even qualifying children. All it requires is that the relative that is a U.S. citizen sponsor their relative’s immigration status and file the right forms. is a great resource to help with the application process; they will guide you through each process step by step. However, depending on whether the sponsoring relatives are in the United States at the time of the application or outside, you may have more work to do to keep the family together.

If You’re Already Here

If your non-resident relatives are in the United States and they are looking for green cards, a sponsoring U.S. relative who is a citizen may just have to file a few forms to help them out. The first step is to fill out Form I-130 entitled “Petition for Alien Relative.” This form will make it much easier for loved ones to get a visa to stay in the United States lawfully. The date this is filed is the priority date assigned to your relative. They must wait for indications that the priority date is current and then file for an Adjustment of Status via Form I-485 for permanent residency.

When You’re Not Living in the United States

A further complication occurs when you’re trying to get a green card and you’re not living in the United States at that time. Instead of just filing forms, you will have to work with the U.S. Department of State through the consulate in your area. They will be the ones issuing the form I-130 and then you will have to wait through their processing to see if you can obtain a visa. If you do get one, you will be made a permanent resident when you get admitted to a U.S. port of entry.

Coordinating Information Cross-Country

The process may seem straightforward, but it’s not. If you are in the United States trying to get your green card, you may have to send back for needed documentation to your country origin. If you are outside the United States, you will need to keep abreast of your status to know when to travel. You will need to stay in close contact with family members who can help you get the needed paperwork, official documentations, and travel plans ready. Fortunately, in the age of the Internet all of this can be done via email or using face-to-face conferencing on applications like Skype. Not only can you work on the details of the latest issue with your green card request, but you can also spend quality time with your loved ones online. Working to bring family members to the United States is not an easy matter, but it is not completely impossible. It just takes some patience, perseverance, and good communications across borders.