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Before applying for a green card or adjustment of status, it is important to learn about Form I-130 and recent changes to the law. There are opportunities for family members to live and work in the United States even if they entered the states illegally. There are different opportunities available depending upon the circumstances of the case, but the law now allows certain foreign nationals to stay within the country while they apply for their green card.

U.S. citizens may file a Form I-130 for their spouse, unmarried child under the age of 21 or married son or daughter of any age. Citizens who are over the age of 21 may file for their brother, sister, father or mother as well. U.S. permanent residents are eligible to file for their spouse, unmarried child under the age of 21 or unmarried son or daughter 21 years of age or older.

The process of filing an I-130 is a little different depending if the family member is already living inside the United States. For family members who are inside the United States and entered with a valid U.S. visa, the family member may be able to file the I-485 to adjust their status while you submit the I-130 form. If the family member is outside the United States or entered without a valid visa, the family member will receive a notice to apply for an immigrant visa at a U.S. consulate abroad after their I-130 is accepted.

There are times when green-card seekers are afraid to leave the United States because they did not enter legally. In such cases, they may be blocked from returning. However, there is an opportunity for green-card applicants to file a “provisional waiver” application before leaving. This is a relatively new procedural option that can have a significant impact on the lives of many visa applicants. In addition, some immigrants can receive their green card without leaving the U.S. if they were “waived through” at the border even though they did not have a valid visa. Our office calls these “Quilantan” cases named after the BIA case that created his precedent.

Before March 4, 2013, individuals who entered the states illegally to live with a U.S. citizen were eligible for a green card, but were not able to receive it via an adjustment of status. This means that they had to leave the U.S. for a consular interview and then hope to be accepted or have to wait outside the U.S. for a number of years. The provisional waiver allows applicants to learn if their waiver request is accepted before having to leave the country.

If you have a family member who is a U.S. citizen and you wish to receive a green card through either provisional waivers or the Quilantan case make sure you receive legal guidance to ensure that your application is accepted. The application process is often stressful and confusing without help. With the proper support and advice from an experienced Los Angeles immigration lawyer, you may be able to receive your visa without fear of deportation or issues with reentry.