Dear Mrs Walker-Huntington,
My mom is a United States (US) citizen, and we have been to lawyers and heard so many different stories regarding her filing for me. Is it possible for you to give me some information?
1. If she files for me, how long will the petition take to come through?
2. Can she file for me if I am living in the US?
A US citizen can currently file for their children, married and unmarried. An under-21-year-old child of an American citizen is considered an immediate relative, and when the US citizen parent files for their child outside of the States, it normally takes nine months to a year for the filing to be processed. If the under-21-year-old child is in the States pursuant to lawful entry (i.e., the child entered with their own passport and their own US non-immigrant visa), that child can remain in the States and adjust their status to that of a permanent resident.
If the child enters the US before age 18 as a permanent resident or adjusts their status before age 18, the child can automatically become a US citizen.
If the US citizen parent is filing for an adult son or daughter, (i.e., over 21 years of age), they are not considered immediate relatives and must wait on a visa to be available to them before they can migrate. If the adult son or daughter is unmarried, they are placed in the first preference category, and that category is currently taking approximately seven years for a visa to become available, i.e., the green card. If the son or daughter is married, they are in the third preference category, and it is currently taking a little over 10 years for a visa to become available in that category.
The only way an adult son or daughter of an American citizen can remain in the States and adjust their status would be if their petition was filed prior to April 30, 2001. If, as is your situation, your petition has not yet been filed, you would not be able to remain in the US during the processing of your application and at the end of waiting on your priority date to become current change your status.
If you are in the States waiting on a parent's petition to become current and your petition was filed after April 30, 2001, you will not be able to adjust your status in the US. You would have to leave the States and return home to have an immigrant visa interview. Once you leave the States after being out of status for a year or more, you would face a mandatory 10-year bar from returning to the US and would require a waiver before being allowed to return.
Dahlia A. Walker-Huntington is a Jamaican-American attorney who practises immigration law in the United States; and family, criminal and personal injury law in Florida. She is a mediator, arbitrator and special magistrate in Broward County, Florida. Email email@example.com.