Any person from any point on the globe is a potential immigrant to the US. However, this will only occur if there is a close relative in the United States who is either a US citizen or a permanent legal US resident, who can be their sponsor for a visa or for an adjustment of status.
The requirement is that an American relative is the one who would need to initiate the petition for a visa to start the citizenship process. This would be done on behalf of the foreign relative who is wanting to emigrate from their home country.
The application for adjustment of status is the paperwork that is required by an alien who is already living or visiting inside the US borders, or is someone who is considered a resident alien. This step, when completed, will change their status from non-immigrant to immigrant, also making them a legal permanent resident as well.
Immigration to the US is based on a petition of a relative and can sometimes take quite a long time to process. For example, it can take up to 12 years for a brother or a sister of a US citizen to successfully go through the process. However, the process of citizenship to the United does not take as long if both the US citizen who initiates the petition and the foreign beneficiary are considered by the US immigration service to be “immediate relatives.”
An immediate relative, according to US immigration law, is defined as a spouse of an American citizen, an unmarried child of an American citizen who is under 21 years of age and the parents of any American citizen.
All other relatives, for the purposes of immigration, and including children of an American citizen who is over the age of 21, are required to wait for what is known as their visa priority date to arrive, in order to receive a visa number.
Should the foreign relative who is seeking to immigrate, already be within the borders of the US, then a close relative has previously filed the Alien Resident Petition on their behalf. This means that they will be able to become a legal permanent resident without having to go through the consular process for an immigrant visa by means of a US Embassy overseas. They can simply apply for an adjustment of status while in the US.
The primary benefit of seeking out the adjustment of status application (I-485), is that it means the alien has already reached the last step toward acquiring a green card. Once that application is approved, the alien has gained the status of permanent resident in the US.
Additionally, there are two other significant benefits that come to the hopeful immigrant while waiting for the I-485 application to be processed. The first is that the alien is allowed to apply simultaneously for advance parole and the second is that the alien is also able to immediately apply to receive a work permit.
However, not everyone is able to make an application for adjustment of status. If one has ever lost their status, has been in the US unlawfully, has worked without having authorization, has attempted to use false ID or documents to get into the states or has ever been deported, then that person is advised to get assistance from a US immigration attorney with such an application.
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