Immigration (Lawful Permanent Residency Status)

There are essentially two paths to obtain Lawful Permanent Residency (“LPR”) status.  The first is Family Based while the second is Employment Based.  There is an excellent web site maintained by the U.S. Department of State, updated monthly, which provides an excellent overview of the system.  Merely enter the words “visa bulletin” and then follow the links to the site.

Family Based

The U.S. immigration regimen uses a system of “preferences” to determine the number of visa slots to be issued each year against the total worldwide quota of approximately 140,000.
FB 1st Preference – Unmarried sons and daughters of U.S. citizens
FB 2nd Preference (a) – Spouses and minor, unmarried children of Lawful Permanent Residents
FB 2nd Preference (b) – Adult, unmarried sons and daughters of Lawful Permanent Residents
FB3rd Preference – Married sons and daughters of U.S. citizens
FB 4th Preference – Brothers and Sisters of U.S. citizens

With the exception of the FB 1st Preference, all of the above categories are heavily oversubscribed and there are delays of many years in Imm Visa availability for these preferences.

Marriage to U.S. citizen. The great exception to the above delays is by way of marriage to U.S. citizens.  There is immediate availability for the foreign spouses of U.S. citizens.  The USCIS monitors these applications carefully in order to deter fraud.

The essential elements to establish for this category are the following:

  • documentation as to U.S. citizenship of the sponsor
  • valid marriage certificate
  • documentation as to the legal termination of any prior marriages
  • documentary evidence (most current Federal Income tax return) as to minimum income of U.S. sponsor
  • If foreign spouse is already in the U.S., then documentation as to his/her legal entry to U.S….if foreign spouse has ever been arrested anywhere in the world or has ever had contact with the U.S. immigration authorities, including U.S. consulate abroad an experienced U.S. immigration attorney should be conducted before filing any petition or application.