Filing for Relatives in the US and Abroad
If you are a US citizen or green card holder you can file for your immediate relatives to obtain a green card. There are two main ways this can happen: Adjustment of Status or Consular Processing. The end result – a green card – is the same but the process is a bit different. Here is a look at the differences between the two processes.
Location of the Relative
If your relative is currently in the US, then you can file an Adjustment of Status (Form I-485) application. This allows them to adjust or change their status from a nonimmigrant category (i.e. visitor, student, temporary worker) to an immigrant or permanent resident. Adjustment of status is an option only if the applicant’s current status has not expired OR a qualifying immediate relative (US citizen parent, spouse, or child) is able to file for them. On the other hand, consular processing is for relatives that are currently outside of the US. Their case will be processed through their local US consulate or embassy and will enter the US with an approved immigrant (permanent resident) visa.
Fees, Forms and Processing
When filing for a relative to adjust their status in the US, the application package usually consists of Forms I-130, I-485, I-864, I-944, I-765 with supporting documentation the filing fee (almost $1500, and fees will be increasing soon) along with supporting documents. After the forms are filed, the petitioner and beneficiary will attend an interview at a local field office in the US. In most cases, a final decision is made during the interview or shortly thereafter.
Consular processing only requires the initial filing of the Form I-130 application. After it is approved the case is forwarded to the National Visa Center (NVC) for further processing. At that time the visa and affidavit of support fees are requested (approx. $400) and financial and civil documents must be submitted. After the fees and documents are accepted the relative will attend an interview at the US embassy or consular office in their home country. After entry into the US, another fee ($220) must be paid to obtain the physical green card.
Please note that the US is currently NOT processing applications abroad due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, if you and your relative are currently in the US your application can be processed. Feel free to schedule a consultation if you or someone you know are in need of immigration assistance filing for a loved one.