Our attorneys can represent you in U.S. immigration matters regardless of where you are located because U.S. immigration law is federal: you can be in any state, or in any country in the world.

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Family Based

U.S. immigration law allows for the immigration of foreigners to the United States based on some family relationships to a U.S. citizen or legal permanent resident.  If you can meet the requirements, this is one of the most practical ways to obtain a green card.

Family-based immigration falls under two basic categories: unlimited and limited.


    Immediate Relatives of U.S. Citizens (IR): The spouse, widow(er) and unmarried children under 21 of a U.S. citizen, and the parent of a U.S. citizen who is 21 or older.


    Family First Preference (F1): Unmarried sons and daughters of U.S. citizens, and their children, if any. (23,400)

    Family Second Preference (F2): Spouses, minor children, and unmarried sons and daughters (over age 20) of lawful permanent residents. (114,200) At least seventy-seven percent of all visas available for this category will go to the spouses and children; the remainder will be allocated to unmarried sons and daughters.

    Family Third Preference (F3): Married sons and daughters of U.S. citizens, and their spouses and children. (23,400)

    Family Fourth Preference (F4): Brothers and sisters of United States citizens, and their spouses and children, provided the U.S. citizens are at least 21 years of age. (65,000)

Reader Comments

any options?

Hi, I have a question about something.

I've been living in the US for the past 15 years under an A-2 visa (my father is a diplomatic personell, and my brothers and I are his dependents.)

However, I have two issues:
First of all, I just turned 21, which means I'm no longer a dependent, and I guess no longer technically an A-2.

Secondly, I'm attempting to apply to medical school, but have been getting a lot of mixed messages as to whether or not I'm eligible to apply.

I've been here for such a long time though, and frankly I cant imagine myself living or being anywhere else. Isn't there some rule or something that allows one to apply for residency in the US after living here for a long period of time?

Serious Penalties for Falling out of Lawful U.S. Status

As a general matter, the U.S. immigration provision which allows one to apply for residency in the U.S. after living here for a long period of time is known as "registry". Unfortunately, among other conditions, it requires that one of have been present in the United States since January 1, 1972. This is why very few individuals qualify under that provision.

It is very important that one who may have fallen out of lawful U.S. immigration status understand that U.S. immigration law now has strict penalties regarding remaining in the U.S. without lawful status. In particular, one who is "out of status" for 180 days but less than 1 year, is barred from obtaining any lawful status until one has resided outside of the U.S. for at least three (3) years, with only limited exceptions under current law; and if one is out of status for 1 year or more, then one is barred from obtaining lawful U.S. status until one has resided outside of the U.S. for ten (10) years, with only limited exceptions under current law.

These provisions often create great hardships for people who fall out of status because it effectively shuts them out of obtaining lawful status in the U.S.

For these reasons, someone who believes that he or she may have fallen out of status should consult with an immigration attorney as soon as possible to determine one's actual status, and one's options. In order to address these issues properly and professionally, it is necessary for the attorney to complete a consultation and to review your case in detail.

Guy from Dominica marries US citizen for Citizenship

Everything was fine initally then it all fell apart. Now she will not sign for conditions to be removed and threatens me that she is going to tell the CIS I married her for citizenship. I tried to make our relationship work, but it was too difficult. What can she do? Initally I was not in love with her but I did fall into love, but we have been sepearated for 7 mths after being married 2 years. ( i lived in another states for the first year and a half of our marriage and I need to file for my conditons within 6 to 8 mths. We lived together in the same house for 30 days. Do I really have a chance? She can prove all of this. She said she is going to even pull my family and friends into this big mess to make sure everyone is accountable because they did coach it all along. I just do not want to get old before my time worrying about my status, but I have spoken to several U.S. attorneys and they said she could have me deported. I am a good person. I have been dating other women, but have not have relations with any of them. I just cannot go back to her especially now since she hates me. I do not want to go home because I have begun my life here. Help!

Harsh Penalties for Marriage Fraud

If a marriage was a sham and entered into "for citizenship", then it is wrong and illegal to try to pursue any immigration benefits based on the sham marriage. In fact, marriage fraud is a federal crime. Under 8 USC 1325(c), the penalties are as follows:

(c) Marriage fraud. Any individual who knowingly enters into a marriage for the purpose of evading any provision of the immigration laws shall be imprisoned for not more than 5 years, or fined not more than
$250,000, or both.

Someone who is guilty of marriage fraud may also be prosecuted for giving a false statement under 18 United States Code, sec. 1001, as well as conspiracy, 18 United States Code, sec. 371.

Spouse Failed to use Immigrant Visa

Myself and my wife were granted Immigrant Visa based on the Diversity Visa Lottery. I was principal applicant/winner.

I arrived first in US and got my visa endorsed and subsequently received my GC.

My spouse was to use the Visa within 6 months of issue and unfortunately did not use it due to unfortunate circumstances.

Obviosuly now my spouse cannot enter USA as immigrant. My question is if i wish to have her here in US as LPR now do i need to sponsor her thru the normal family category and wait 5 or so years? I am guessing this is the case. Is there anyway way around this?

One more question, can she travel as visitor even though she will still have the immigrant VISA label in passport which was never used.

Prior to gettting Immigrant Visa she had B2 Multiple VISA for 10 years which doesnt show cancelled etc in the passport after getting immigrant visa. Can that B2 visa be used or will Immigration now view her as intending immigrant and deny entry even with the valid B2 visa in passport

leaving USA with immigrant visa

I came to USA 2 weeks ago on family based programm(immigrant visa).Recieved SSN .Can i leave the country,and then come back?pls supply me with law or regulations concerning this matter?


I came to the US 18 months ago on a turistvisa,i got married to an American citicen ,how does he sponsor me?

Mom has a green card

Hi -

My mom was born in Canada, and moved to Brooklyn in New york when she was only 2 years old, she went to school there and got her US green card. Then when she was 21 she decided to go to Malta (Europe) and met my dad, they got married, and then had kids. In the mean time, the law of Malta stated that she couldnt work in malta if she didnt have a maltese passport and that she cannot have a dual citizenship, so she had to renounce her canadian passport to get one from Malta. Now the law changed and people in Malta can get 2 passports - the Canadian consulate isn't much help here, so I turned to you.

Can she:
1) Get her Canadian passport back? If yes, how? She was born in Canada.
2) Her Green card was issued way back and does not have an expiry date (the old ones) - so it is valid for life. Can I get one if she has one? If yes - how?

I asked the American Embassy personel in Malta also about this dilemma - and they weren't much help as they didn't know the answer, they said it's too complex to figure it out.

Would appreciate your help.
THanks in advance.

Visiting a Green Card Holder

I am a PR of US. Got my green card in December 2008. I'd really like my family from Europe to be able to visit me for short period of the year (about a month each year).
I've been told that it is possible for my parents to get tourist visas, but that I shouldn't even try inviting my brother so far. He is not married, 23 y.o. has very stable employement(director of a company) and his own apartment in my country of birth.
I would really want him to be able to visit me from time to time, but I don't know if sending him an invitation that he could take to the US Embassy and get a visa will work. Also heard that if one is denied a visa once, then it's more difficult for him/her to get it later.

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Search for H1B Visa Employers

You can search for "H1B Visa Employers" using this database, which was compiled by Antao & Chuang, Attorneys at Law from government sources. This database identifies those U.S. employers who have filed for H-1B visas in the past, or who have at least started the process by filing for the LCA. If you find an employer you are interested in, you can then contact them to inquire as to whether they have any current job openings in your field. Please tell your friends about this valuable resource.

Use this form to search for H1B Visa employers.

"FMG Friendly" Employers

Foreign Medical Graduates ("FMGs") should be aware that there are "FMG Friendly" employers, and "FMG Unfriendly" employers. This database (compiled by Antao & Chuang, Attorneys at Law from government sources) identifies those U.S. employers who have filed for H-1B visas for foreign medical graduates in the past (or at least started the process by filing for the LCA), and who can therefore be deemed "FMG Friendly". Please tell your colleagues about this valuable resource.

Use this form to search for "FMG Friendly" employers in a given state.

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