There are many avenues to obtaining permanent residency (green card) in the U.S. This article will discuss some of the nuances involved in filing for a family based green card.

Obtaining visas may be a time consuming process depending on the status of the petitioner (U.S. citizen or Legal Permanent Resident) and the relationship of the beneficiary to the petitioner. There are many different categories of relationships, each having different quotas, time waits and requirements.

The highest priority category is the “immediate relative.” This category only applies to petitioners who are U.S. citizens and their beneficiary parents, spouses and unmarried children under 21 years old. There is no limit on the amount of immediate relative visas issued in a particular year.

Following the immediate relative category are the:

First Preference – unmarried, adult children of a U.S. citizen

Second Preference – split into two groups; Group A are the spouses and unmarried children under 21 of a LPR; Group B are the unmarried children over 21 of a LPR

Third Preference – married children, their spouses and minor children of a U.S. citizen

Fourth Preference – siblings of a U.S. citizen, their spouses and minor children

These preference categories are subject to quotas and only a limited number are given in any particular year. Waiting times can differ depending on which category the beneficiary is applying under.

The appropriate documents should be filed along with the application. Marriage certificates, birth certificates and police clearances may be appropriate depending on the situation.

If an applicant for adjustment of status leaves the U.S. without an advance parole, it is presumed that the applicant has abandoned their application for adjustment. The application will be terminated without prejudice, which means the applicant may apply for adjustment again. This is a general rule with a number of small exceptions.

The application may be approved after an adjustment interview. The interviews differ on the basis for the underlying immigration avenue used, for example, married couples may be interviewed in separate rooms. Although interviews are commonly used, there are other techniques U.S.C.I.S. can employ to determine eligibility, such as field examinations and investigations of other sources.

Denial of an adjustment of status application often results in removal proceedings. A denial notice and a Notice to Appear will be sent to the applicant to expedite the aliens deportation.