Family Based Immigration

How can my friend become a U.S. citizen?

A reader recently submitted the following question through our website:

“My friend was here on a professional ‘work permit’ — but it expired so she and her family had to go back home.  How can she become a U.S. citizen and get a green card?”

Someone once said, there’s no such thing as a “simple” immigration question!  And this one is no exception.  In hopes the answer will be helpful to a broader audience, I’m posting it here on our GDP blog.

There are several avenues by which people are able to immigrate to the United States.  The two broadest categories are: (1) family-based immigration and (2) employment-based immigration.

I will cover family-based immigration first.  I will discuss employment-based immigration in a later post.

Family-Based Immigration

Determining the possible immigration options depends on all the circumstances.  Generally, before someone can become a US citizen, they must first become a Permanent Resident (i.e., get a “green card”).  Citizenship is a whole different subject – so I will save that, too, for a later post.  First things first!

To become a Permanent Resident of the US, there must be a US citizen sponsor who is the person’s spouse, parent, adult child or sibling.  A Permanent Resident (a “green card” holder) may also be the sponsor, but only for the Permanent Resident’s spouse or unmarried child.

If the person seeking Permanent Residency (a green card) is the spouse, parent or minor child of a U.S. citizen, they are categorized as “Immediate Relatives.”  That can be a big plus.  For Immediate Relatives, the process can be much faster:  4 to 6 months, in some cases (of course much depends on their specific circumstances).

If the person seeking to immigrate is not an “Immediate Relative” the process takes much longer.  For these people there are a limited number of immigrant visas available each year.  This limited number is further ‘rationed’ to a given number for each country, and for each different visa category.

Every year, many more people apply than the number of available visas.  So there are backlogs.  The length of the backlog depends on the specific relationship to the person’s sponsor, and also depends on the country they were born in.  Depending on those factors, the backlog may be anywhere from 8 months to almost 20 years!

These are just the threshold issues.  There are many other considerations that may affect the options available. As you can see, the process can become quite complicated! Contact an Arizona immigration lawyer today!

Years of experience have taught me that few immigration situations are as simple as they seem.  Small variations in each person’s circumstances may make their case more difficult – or (sometimes) more simple and easy to move forward.

If you would like to pursue the process of helping your friend return to the U.S. and obtain Permanent Resident status, a more formal Consultation would probably be worthwhile.  I have three main goals for each Consultation:

1 – to provide a verbal ‘roadmap’ so you will understands the options, obstacles and possibilities associated with your particular immigration situation

2 – to give sufficient information for you to make an informed decision about the best path to reach your immigration goals

3 – to help you understand what needs to be done next, in order to follow that path and reach the goal successfully.  That normally includes an estimate of what it would cost to hire our firm to help with that immigration process.

To schedule a Consultation, please contact my paralegal, Debbi Mitchell, or our receptionist, Janet Daoud, at 480-655-7440 (or you can reach Debbi by e-mail at [email protected]).

Thanks for your interest!  I look forward to helping ensure your experience with the immigration process is a smooth and successful one.


Mark Egan

Arizona Immigration Attorney

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