Most immigrants obtain lawful permanent residency (green card) in the U.S. through their family relationship with a U.S. citizen or green card holder or through employment. In some cases, a noncitizen can obtain a green card by self-sponsorship, meaning they can obtain a green card due to their extraordinary qualifications. U.S. immigration law, however, allows certain immigrants to obtain a Green Card as “special immigrants.”
At J Sparks Law, we help clients in the Austin area to apply for and obtain green cards as special immigrants.
Eligibility for Special Immigrant Green Card
A special immigrant is an individual who is eligible to receive a green card by virtue of being a member of a class of people the U.S. government allows to get a green card by being members of that class. However, to be eligible as a member, one must satisfy certain requirements which differ from one class of special immigrants to another.
The following are some of the more common classes of individuals eligible for a special immigrant green card:
Amerasian. This is a category designated by the U.S. government to help children fathered by American soldiers during the Vietnam War. To be eligible for this special immigrant green card, the applicant must show that they were born between December 31, 1950, and October 22, 1982, to a US citizen father. However, only children born in Korea, Vietnam, Laos, Kampuchea, or Thailand are eligible under this special immigrant category.
Widow or Widower of U.S. Citizens. If your U.S. citizen spouse dies before filing an I-130 Relative Petition for you, you can apply to be given a green card as a special immigrant. If your spouse filed an I-130 Relative Petition before he or she died, the petition will be automatically converted to a special immigrant petition, and you will get your green card as a special immigrant, assuming all other requirements are satisfied.
Special Immigrant Juvenile. This is a special immigrant green card available for unaccompanied children from Central America who are under the age of 21 and unmarried after entering the U.S. The juvenile applicant must also show that a court has determined, among other things, that reunification with one or both of the juvenile’s parents is not viable due to abuse, neglect, or abandonment.
Special Immigrant Religious Worker. If you work for a qualifying tax-exempt religious organization as a minister or other qualifying religious worker, then you can apply for a special immigrant green card under this category.
VAWA Self-Petitioning Spouse or Child of a U.S. Citizen/Green Card Holder. This is a special immigrant category created by the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) to help abused immigrant spouses and their children. The law has been extended to provide immigration benefits to parents as well.
Speak with an Austin Immigration Lawyer
If you are in the Austin area and wish to apply for a special immigrant green card or wish to know if you are eligible to apply, contact our office today and schedule an appointment to learn how we can help you.
Julie Sparks is Board-certified by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization in Immigration and Nationality Law, one of a few such attorneys in Texas. After 15 years of practice in this field, she has represented immigrants from more than 70 countries.
Ms. Sparks is a member of the Texas Bar Association and the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA). Julie has also been a featured speaker at Southwestern Law School and at the national 2015 AILA Fundamentals Conference.
15 years of practice in this field.
She also founded and managed a non-profit organization representing indigent immigrants seeking asylum.
Julie is a former immigration law instructor at the Pepperdine School of Law in Malibu, California, and California State University – Los Angeles.
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