MY IMMIGRATION PETITION FOR MY HUSBAND GOT APPROVED,
WHERE IS HIS GREEN CARD?
Many people believe that just by filing an application for a family member and receiving an approval will result in that family member receiving his or her lawful permanent residence aka receiving a green card.
This is simply not the case.
An approved application for a family member simply means that the U.S. Government recognizes the relationship and; thus, the family member is entitled to apply for an immigration benefit, such as an immigrant visa to become a lawful permanent resident.
Once the family petition has been approved, the family member must then apply to receive his or her immigrant visa, i.e. lawful permanent residence. Depending on the family member’s particular situation, he or she applies with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) or National Visa Center (NVC), a department within the U.S. Department of State.
First, it’s important to understand the terminology associated with filing for a family member. The person, whether he or she is a U.S. Citizen or Lawful Permanent Resident, that is filing the petition is known as the Petitioner. The family member, foreign national or alien, for whose benefit the petition is filed is known as the Beneficiary. The application the Petitioner must file is known as a Petition for Alien Relative, USCIS Form I-130. Once the petition is filed, the Petitioner and his or her attorney will receive a receipt. This receipt is incorporated in a Notice of Action, Form I-797. This notice will have the Receipt Number that USCIS assigns to the case. The Petitioner will need this number in order to inquire about his or her case. The notice will also have the Received Date, Priority Date, and Preference Classification. This information is important because it will let the Petitioner know if the Beneficiary will be able to apply for a visa immediately upon the approval of the petition or will have to wait for a visa to be available. The Beneficiary will be able to apply for a visa only if one is available.
There are always visas available for immediate family members of United States Citizens. Immediate family members are considered to be spouses, parents, or minor children of United States Citizens. As a result, the priority dates for petitions filed for these family members will always be current and the family member, i.e. Beneficiary, will be able to apply once the petition is approved. It is only when the Petition for Alien Relative is approved that the Beneficiary is eligible to apply for his Lawful Permanent Residence.
In certain circumstances, the U.S. Government allows the Petitioner to apply for the Beneficiary concurrently with the Beneficiary applying to become a Lawful Permanent Resident. For example, if the Beneficiary was admitted to the United States on a non-immigrant visa such as a tourist visa, B1/B2, many times the Beneficiary may apply to adjust his or her immigrant status while living in the U.S.A. by filing USCIS Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status. If the person was not admitted, i.e. entered the U.S.A. lawfully, many times he or she must file his or her application with the Department of State by filing Form DS-260. He or she must then consular process (finalize his or her process) at the designated consulate in his or her country. Unfortunately, these individuals may not be able to consular process if they have illegally entered the United States previously. It is important that they speak to an immigration attorney before applying for a visa and leaving the country.
There may be exceptions to the above and every process is case specific. Also, immigration laws and policies are constantly changing or being challenged. As a result, I recommend that anyone who thinks they are eligible for the immigrant benefits described herein to seek competent legal counsel.