Under Immigration laws, and depending on certain facts and the familial relationship, a US Citizen, or Resident, may be able to petition for their family member to become a US Resident.
Immediate family member category:
Under this category there is no numeric limitation as to the number of Immigrant Visas (aka green cards) disposable in a given year. Examples of familial relationships under this category are-Spouses of US Citizens (this includes any legally recognized same sex marriage), children of a US Citizen, or Parents of an adult US Citizen child.
Numerically limited Categories:
There are other categories, again dependent on familial relationship, that have yearly numeric status. In short, if you are related to a US Citizen, or a US Resident, but are not an immediate family member, we encourage you to call us, so we can discuss your situation. Also, please visit the Visa Bulletin board, for more information on these categories:
Under most scenarios, a US Immigrant Visa process culminates in an interview at a US Consulate abroad: Consular process. However, under some exceptions and circumstances, the process transpires entirely inside the US and culminates with an interview at your local USCIS offices, with no necessity for the applicant to ever leave the US: this is Adjustment of Status.
ADJUSTMENT OF STATUS
Legal entry & currently in legal status:
In this scenario a person has entered with a legal non-immigrant visa (student visa, tourist, H visa, J visa (some exceptions) , E visa etc) AND this person is still inside of their allowed period of time to be in the U.S (currently in legal status). This person, given certain facts, can ADJUST their STATUS to that of a US Resident without having to leave the U.S. and the process will lead to an interview at local USCIS office.
Legal entry & overstayed their permit:
In this scenario a person has entered with a legal non immigrant visa. However, this person has overstayed their permitted time to be inside the U.S.-overstayed. In this scenario, given certain face, a person may STILL be allowed to ADJUST their STATUS to that of a US Resident WITHOUT the need to leave the US and will have their interview at a local USCIS office.
Illegal entry but married to a current member of the US Armed forces ( or former):
Under this scenario a person entered without permission, but is married (call us for other familial possibilities) to a current or former member of the US armed forces whom is a US Citizen. Depending on some facts, this person ma be able to ADJUST their status DESPITE having entered without permission.
Illegal entry but has prior petition by family member:
under this scenario, a person entered without permission and is now ready to apply for US Residency. Depending on certain facts, especially facts surrounding if prior petitions were filed in years before the end of April 2001, and depending on whether they were present in the US prior to that time, the person may qualify for an expiation under the law whereby they can ADJUST STATUS.
This category is very fact specific so please contact an experienced attorney in order to ask about this program.
Filing while abroad:
In this scenario a person is married to a US Citizen, the Non US Citizen lives abroad, has never had any immigration problems nor any criminal convictions. Here the person may file for US Residency and have the eventual interview in the Consulate of their home Country.
Filing while in the U.S. without permission:
In this scenario the person entered without permission, and does not fall within any exception that would allow for adjustment of status. Under this scenario, the person, if they have NO OTHER IMMIGRATION PROBLEMS nor DEPORTATIONS IN PAST, and NO CRIMINAL HISTORY, may qualify for a provisional waiver. It is important to know that under this scenario, an applicant will have to leave the US and go into their Country of origin. More importantly, it is important to know that once the person leaves the U.S. they will be assessed a penalty of time of not being admitted into the U.S. This fact, forces them to apply for a waiver of inadmissibility, thus waiving this penalty. Also very important to note is that in the past this waiver of hardship could only be filed abroad! This means that the applicant had their interview abroad, then had to apply for the waiver abroad, then had to wait for the result of their waiver abroad for many months. HOWEVER, this process, has changed! In short, the waiver of hardship can now be filed INSIDE the US, before the applicant leaves for their interview and the applicant waits for the result of their application of waiver while they remain in the U.S. WE recommend strongly that you consult with an experienced attorney in order to see if this plan applies to you! Also, please visit the following link: www.uscis.gov/family/family-us-citizens/provisional-waiver/provisional-unlawful-presence-waivers