Law Office Of Leanna J. Smith
Leanna Smith

Immigration: What You Need to Know

February 22nd, 2018


If you meet certain requirements, you may become a U.S. citizen either at birth or after birth.

To become a citizen at birth, you must:

  • Have been born in the United States or certain territories or outlying possessions of the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction of the United States; OR
  • had a parent or parents who were citizens at the time of your birth (if you were born abroad) and meet other requirements.

To become a citizen after birth, you must:

  • Apply for “derived” or “acquired” citizenship through parents.
  • Apply for naturalization.

Some of the benefits of becoming a Citizen include:

  • Right to vote.
  • Bring family members to the United States.
  • Obtaining citizenship for children born abroad.
  • Traveling with a U.S. Passport
  • Becoming eligible for Federal jobs.
  • Becoming an elected official.
  • Showing your patriotism.

You may file for naturalization if your eligibility is based on being a
Permanent resident for at least 5 years; or
Permanent resident for at least 3 years if you are married to a U.S. Citizen

In addition to these, you must also meet the following requirements:

  • Continuous residence
  • Good moral character
  • English and Civics knowledge

Please call our office for a free consultation and to further discuss your case.

Family-Based Immigration

Family-based immigration is the process of applying for permanent residency or green card through a spouse or other family member.  Each applicant must be fingerprinted, submit photographs, go through a background check, submit supporting documentation to include a medical examination by a certified USCIS approved physician and have a qualified financial sponsor.

U.S. citizens may sponsor:

  • Parents, if the U.S. citizen is over 21 (immediate relative);
  • Spouse (immediate relative);
  • Children (immediate relative if the child is unmarried and under the age of 21; preference relative if the child is married or unmarried and over the age of 21);
  • Brothers and Sisters (preference relative).

Lawful Permanent Residents may sponsor:

  • Unmarried Children (preference relative)
  • Spouse (preference relative)

Family based immigration does not extend to family members such as grandparents, aunts, uncles, or cousins. It is limited to immediate relatives.
The individual obtaining the immigrant visa is called the principal beneficiary.  Those individuals immigrating with the principal beneficiary are called derivative beneficiaries.  If the principal beneficiary is an immediate relative, then there are no derivative beneficiaries.  Each intending immigrant requires his or her own petition.  Preference category principals may immigrate their spouses and children as derivative beneficiaries on the same petition.

A spouse of a United States citizen or permanent resident may apply for permanent resident status (a green card) and obtain a work permit within the United States ONLY if:

  • the spouse entered the U.S. legally, or
  • the spouse had a petition filed on their behalf prior to April 30, 2001.

If neither of these are the case, then the spouse must leave the United States to follow the process of Consular Processing.

If the couple is not yet married, a U.S. citizen may apply for a K-1 visa in order to bring his or her fiancée to the United States in order to get married. Once the couple is married, the immigrant relative can then apply for permanent resident status.  In order to obtain a fiancé(e) visa, the couple must prove:

  1. That they have met in person within the past two years (in some cases this requirement can be waived);
  2. They have a good faith intention to marry; and
  3. That they are legally able and willing to marry within 90 days of the spouse’s arrival to the U.S.