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A Green Card for Permanent Residency

Permanent residency status is commonly referred to as ?having a green card?. This enables an individual to permanently live and work in the United States. In order to obtain permanent residency, a petition must be filed with the United States Immigration Service by an employer or family member. An immigration lawyer from Brabazon Law Offices can assist you with the process in the Green Bay, WI and De Pere, WI areas.

Family-Based Petition


A family member must provide documentation of citizenship or lawful permanent resident status to sponsor an individual for permanent residency. A U.S. Citizen may petition for a spouse, married or unmarried children, siblings or parents if the sponsor is at least 21 years of age. A lawful permanent resident can petition for a spouse or unmarried son or daughter.

The sponsor must prove the relationship to the person seeking permanent residency. This includes filing an I-130 Petition for Alien Relative and waiting for approval and an immigration visa number to become available. Applicants are placed in categories in a preference system. Immediate relatives of a U.S. citizen do not have to wait for an immigrant visa number to become available. This includes parents, spouses, and unmarried children under 21.

The relatives in other categories must wait for a visa number to become available based on a system of preferences:

  • First Preference ? Unmarried sons or daughters of U.S. citizens over the age of 21
  • Second Preference ? Spouses of lawful permanent residents, their unmarried children under 21, and unmarried sons and daughters
  • Third Preference ? U.S. citizens? married sons and daughters
  • Fourth Preference ? Brothers and sisters of U.S. citizens over the age of 21

Once the visa petition is received by USCIS, it is either approved or denied. The USCIS will notify the filer when a petition is approved and determine the availability of visa numbers. The date the form is received is called the Priority Date and the Visa Bulletin is updated monthly. An immigration lawyer can help you understand the priority date, categories for preference, and other factors in the process.

Consular Processing

When attempting to obtain your visa outside of the United States, the approved petition is sent to the Department of State?s National Visa Center. You will be notified when the petition is received, when an immigrant visa number becomes available, and when you need to appear for an interview at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate.

Adjustment of Status

When living within the United States, you may apply for an I-485 Adjustment of Status, once a petition is approved an immigrant visa number becomes available. You and the petitioning relative will need to appear at a local USCIS office for an interview.

Medical Exams

A medical examination is required for every applicant and must be conducted by a designated doctor.

Affidavit of Support

Sponsors must file an affidavit, showing that they make enough money to support the individual they are sponsoring. This includes proof of employment, a completed Federal income tax return, and W-2. The established income requirements are based on current poverty guidelines.

Preparing for the Marriage Interview

This is required for obtaining permeant residency based on marriage to ensure the marriage is not intended to obtain a green card. Lying can result in perjury charges. In addition, documentation of the relationship must be provided to show that you are married out of love and live together. This includes joint bills, credit cards, bank accounts, insurance, mortgages, leases, and joint ownership of property. In addition, photos, birth certificates for children born of the marriage, and affidavits from friends and family attesting to the validity of the marriage.

During this interview, you must be prepared to answer personal questions about the relationship. The interviewer will evaluate your answers, body language, and demeanor. The couple may be interviewed individually to make sure the answers match. We can provide an immigration lawyer to help you prepare for the interview.

Conditional Residence

When a person is granted permanent residence based on marriage, they will be given conditional residence status, if they have been married less than two years. The green card is valid for two years and the resident has the same rights and responsibilities as other permanent residents. After two years, they must file for permanent residence status and show documentation of the validity of the marriage. A second interview may be required. If the couple has divorced, the spouse is at risk of losing residence status. Seeking help from an immigration attorney is essential.

Green Cards for Battered Spouses and Their Children (VAWA)

The Violence against Women Act (VAWA) allows victims of domestic violence and their children apply for permanent residence when the abuser is a U.S. citizen or permanent resident. This applies to battered spouses, their children under 21, parents of children abused by U.S. citizens or permanent residents or children abused by their parents.

In order to apply, Form I-360 must be filed with USCIS. Documentation of the abuse must be provided. An immigration lawyer can help determine the evidence that is needed.

Employment-Based Petition

Several steps are required to apply for permanent residence based on employment. The employer must be an active participant. The categories for employment-based immigration include priority workers, professionals with advanced degrees or individuals with exceptional ability, and other skilled and professional workers. An employer must file Form I-140 and a visa number must become available.

Immigration through the Legal Immigrant Family Equity Act of 2000

The LIFE Act resulted in several changes in immigration law, including temporarily-restored benefits of section 245(i), the creation of V Visa and expansion of the K visa. Traditionally, individuals entering the U.S. illegally or violating their non-immigrant status were unable to file an adjustment of status application and needed to return to their home countries. These individuals were subject to three, five, or ten years in jail for illegally residing in the country.

Individuals may apply for adjustment of their status as long as they filed petitions or labor certification applications before April 30th, 2001. In addition, you must have paid a $1000 penalty fee, present in the United States on December 21st, 2000, and filed a labor certificate application or immigration petition by April 30th, 2001.

An experienced immigration lawyer can help you determine whether you may benefit from the LIFE Act. The V visa is available to spouses and children of permanent residents with an application that has been pending for at least three years. An individual with a V visa may obtain employment authorization and adjust their status in the United States.

An experienced immigration lawyer can help you determine whether you may benefit from the LIFE Act. The V visa is available to spouses and children of permanent residents with an application that has been pending for at least three years. An individual with a V visa may obtain employment authorization and adjust their status in the United States.

A K visa is filed for a fiancé of a U.S. citizen. This is expanded for spouses and minor children of U.S. citizens waiting abroad for their immigration visa petition to be approved.

Common Reasons for Denials

  • Criminal Convictions - You may be denied a visa or drug-related convictions and crimes such as murder, aggravated felonies, or being considered a security risk. Lying on the application may result in denial. The drug abuse or addiction condition may be waived, if the individual has been rehabilitated.
  • Health-Related Grounds ? Communicable diseases, such as HIV or tuberculosis, physical or mental illnesses that threaten the health and welfare of others, and lack of required vaccinations.
  • Economic Grounds - If the sponsor does not meet the income requirements, the visa will be denied.


Brabazon Law Office, LLC P.O. Box 11213 Green Bay, WI 54307-1213 Phone: (920) 494-1106 Fax: (920) 494-0501 E-Mail: brabazonlaw@msn.com

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