My daughter just got a U.S. green card – will this help us immigrate?

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Question:

I live in Brazil, with my wife, and we are interested in living in the United States. My daughter went to college in the U.S., then got a job with a computer company, and now has just been approved for U.S. residence. Can she help us to immigrate to the U.S.? How long will it take?

Answer:

As a U.S. lawful permanent resident (a green card holder), your daughter may eventually be able to help you and your wife immigrate to the United States, but not just yet. U.S. lawful permanent residents can, under U.S. immigration law, petition for their spouses and children to immigrate, but not for their parents.

If you can wait a few years, however, the situation may change. Your daughter may become a U.S. citizen, and U.S. citizens are legally able to file visa petitions for their parents to receive U.S. green cards. The parents of a U.S. citizen are considered “immediate relatives,” meaning that the law places no limits on the number of people who can apply in this category. The result is that there’s no waiting list, and the process moves reasonably quickly – a matter of months rather than years. (There’s still the government bureaucracy to get through, after all.)

Based on what you have described, your daughter most likely has a five-year wait from the date she was approved for a green card before she can submit an application to naturalize (become a U.S. citizen). And after she files the naturalization application, she’s likely to wait several months for her interview and (assuming she’s approved) swearing-in ceremony. Only after she has her naturalization certificate in hand (which she’ll receive at the swearing-in ceremony) can she file the I-130 visa petition that will start the immigration process for you.

So, you might want to encourage your daughter to learn about the requirements for U.S. citizenship now, so that she can complete this process as quickly and smoothly as possible! And for more information on your own immigration prospects, see Nolo's book, How to Get a Green Card.

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