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Many people with citizenship or permanent resident status have family members outside the country. There are often situations when these people might like to bring their family to live closer. Eligibility for a Green Card allows for some people to petition on the basis of a family member who lives in the US. The method can be a fantastic way to reunite your family. The process of getting them into the country and helping with their new life can be complicated. If you have a family member who wants to move to the US, lending any help you can will be very welcome. You can support their application for permanent residency. And you can give them assistance with integrating once they arrive. Here are answers to some of the questions you might have.

Securing a Green Card

To gain permanent residency in the US, your family member needs to have a Green Card. Being the family member of a US citizen or of someone who permanently resides in the country is one way to apply for it. If you are an American citizen, or you have your own Green Card, you may be able to secure one for your family member. However, if you aren’t a citizen, your relatives won’t receive as a high a priority. There are different categories of priority when it comes to granting residency. First, there are immediate relatives; then there are four “family preference” categories. Immediate relatives are the spouse of a US citizen and their unmarried children under 21. They also include citizens’ parents and adopted orphans.

The four family preference categories are as follows:

  1. First preference: Unmarried children of a US citizen of any age.
  2. Second preference: spouses, minor children and unmarried adult children of permanent residents.
  3. Third preference: married children of US citizens and their spouses and minor children.
  4. Fourth preference: brothers and sisters of a US citizen and their spouse and minor children.

The application process to obtain a Green Card using this route can take a long time. Most families hire an immigration attorney to help them with the process. Doing this will make sure that everything is done above board. The paperwork can be confusing. So an attorney will ensure you don’t make any unfortunate mistakes.


Image by Joseph Voves

Family Members Already in the Country

You might have a family member who is already legally residing in the US. If so, the process to get permanent residency is different. They need to apply for Adjustment of Status. This method allows them to apply for a Green Card without having to leave the country. For example, they might be on a temporary working visa. Things are slightly different. But it isn’t too far from applying for permanent residence when out of the country. You should still seek legal help to assist your family member with getting their Green Card.

Hiring an Immigration Lawyer

You should hire an immigration attorney. You should do this whether your family member is already in the country or has yet to arrive. Applying for permanent residency can take a while. And the application process involves a lot of paperwork. It can also be useful to find a lawyer if you’re not sure whether your relative can get permanent residency. They can look at their case and give you a better idea of whether they would be successful. It’s also useful if there are any factors that complicated things. For example, if your relative has a criminal record it can be harder to apply.

Visa Interview

One of the last things your relative needs to do to gain permanent residency is to have a visa interview. If you have a Green Card yourself or had one in the past, you will be familiar with how it works. Even if you haven’t done it yourself, you can help your relative with preparing for it. The person applying for residency needs to bring all the relevant documents. These include the documents they have already submitted. They also need proof of their relationship to you. If the applicant is your spouse, they will have to answer questions about your relationship. They will also ask about issues such as health and criminal history. Your relative can use an interpreter for the interview. They don’t have to be trained or qualified. However, it may not be allowed if you want to act as the interpreter.


Image by David D

Arriving in the Country

If your relative isn’t already in the country, the final part of applying for residency is coming to the US. Arriving at their port of entry means they have to do a final interview. This will be with a Customs and Border Protection agent. Your family member already has permission to enter and remain in the country. But the agent needs to check. They will carry out an interview to ask various questions to verify that they are eligible to enter. These questions might cover issues such as illness, criminal history or any immigration violations.

Finding Housing

Of course, once your relative arrives in the country, they will need somewhere to live. They might live with you at first, but that won’t be ideal for everyone. If they’re your spouse or child, it’s likely they will stay with you for the foreseeable future. However, an adult child or a sibling might want to be more independent. You can help them to find housing. You can look for somewhere before they arrive, and help when they get there. If their English skills still need some work, you could go house hunting with them and act as an interpreter. You can also look for realtors who provide services in Spanish and other languages.

It’s also a good idea to look over their rental contract if they’re renting a home. Even hiring a lawyer could be a good move, to ensure that everything is in order. If they’re buying a home, the process is more complicated. They need the funds to purchase somewhere, and they might need assistance with everything. In many states, it isn’t standard to hire a lawyer because the realtor can help with legal issues. However, sometimes it’s a good idea.


Image by Alan Cleaver

Helping Them Prepare for Work

Looking for work will be one of the first things someone will do when they get permanent residency. Of course, they might already have a job that they intend to take, or that they already work at. They may already live and work in the US. In which case, they won’t need to deal with this part of living in the country permanently. Your relative now has the right to work in the US, but they first need a social security number. This nine-digit number is essential for anyone who wants to get a job in the country. They should get a social security card with their name and number on it. They will need to apply for their social security card before they can start employment.

What If Your Family Member Can No Longer Work?

One of the reasons a social security number is necessary is to track your relative’s wages. As with US citizens, permanent residents can also receive social securities benefits. If they can’t work because of a disability, they may be able to get disability payments to support them. However, they must have been working in the US for a minimum of ten years. This will also make them eligible to receive other social security benefits. Any of their dependents will be able to benefit too. To receive disability benefits, your relative must have a particular condition. It needs to be on a specific list of disabilities, called the Blue Book. You can find a list of Social Security disabilities in Spanish and other languages. This makes it easier to understand the system. It’s particularly useful because understanding medical terms can be difficult.

Renewing a Green Card

A Green Card must be renewed every ten years. When the time comes for your family member to do this, they should start the process a good six months in advance. It can be done online or on paper, which makes it more convenient. By the time they have been in the country for a decade, they might not require much help from you. However, it’s always worth offering any help you can give.

Applying for US Citizenship

Your family member might decide that they want to apply to be a US citizen. They can do this after having permanent residency for five years. Not everyone wishes to choose this option. But those that do can do so after being a permanent resident for five years. They need to be able to speak, read and write in English. There are several other requirements. For example, they need to pass a US history test, which they will need to prepare for. They process can take a while, but you can support your relative in their aim.

Helping a family member move to America is a kind thing to do, but there can be a lot to sort out. Try to give them as much support as you can, but remember that they will need to do a lot of the work.

While the Internet comes with nmany benefits, it also has its downsides. For one, it’s an easy way for criminals to steal your personal information. With knowledge about their tactics, however, you can better protect yourself online. Check out these four ways people steal personal information online.

1. Credit Card Theft

Image via Flickr by pressuretobear

One of the easiest ways that people can steal credit card information is by creating a fraudulent site that looks trustworthy. From there, victims are lured to the site to enter credit card information. For example, you might be fooled into buying a product from the site and use your credit card. When making purchases online, always make sure that a site has the secure image (a padlock) before the address on the address bar.

2. Phishing

Identity theft is so rampant that in 2012, the top complaint reported to the Consumer Sentinel Network was identity theft. The same report says that government document/benefit fraud was the most frequently reported form of identity theft. This is when someone illegally uses government documents (social security cards, driver’s licenses, etc.) in order to receive government benefits (welfare, unemployment benefits, etc.).

While this can occur offline, people can also steal this information from the Internet. Phishing is a technique where the thief poses as another individual to steal your personal information. For example, they might send you an email saying that they are your bank and that they need to verify your information. When you click on the link in the email, they’ll ask you to enter your social security number, date of birth, driver’s license number, or whatever other information they need. They can then use this information to create fake government documents.

3. Spyware

Image via Flickr by Rober van der Steeg

With this tactic, criminals hack into your computer and literally spy on you. They can see everything you’re doing and watch as you enter usernames and passwords, allowing them access to your bank or credit card accounts along with other personal information.

Spyware is often connected to other software programs, and people download these programs thinking that they’re safe, such as game downloads, web links, and email attachments. Hackers might also create programs that look like something safe, such as a web browser update, so that people trust the program. To protect yourself, be careful about what you download and what links you click on.

4. Pretexting

Pretexting is a technique that criminals use to gain a certain amount of personal information before directly contacting you. First, they’ll do research on you, such as finding out about your marital status, telephone number, email address, home address, and other information that is often found on online directories. They then contact you, such as by calling you on the phone, and pose as a business that needs your information.

People often believe this scam because the person already has much of their personal information. To protect your personal information online, use services such as those at Reputation.com so that criminals can’t get their hands on your information in the first place.

Identity theft is a serious concern, and advancing technologies only makes it easier for criminals to get their hands on your information. Be careful about your online activity, and learn about other ways to protect yourself online.


New Secret Service director Julia Pierson’s personal information has been hacked and published online according to new claims now under federal investigation.

The hacking would be the latest in a string of such incidents against top officials that include first lady Michelle Obama and CIA Director John Brennan.

The information on the website included a Social Security number, phone numbers, and a credit report that includes accounts with The Home Depot, Sears, and Macy’s.

It was unclear how much of the data that appeared on www.exposed.re was accurate or who posted it.

The website appeared to have information about other government officials and celebrities that had been published online previously at another Internet address, www.exposed.su.

That address appears to have been taken down after its launch last month.

Julia Pierson’s personal information has been hacked in her first days as Secret Service director

Julia Pierson’s personal information has been hacked in her first days as Secret Service director

In that one-month period the former site was viewed more than a half a million times, Information Week reports. The latest site reports more than 770,000 page views and counting.

“We are investigating and we are aware of the matter,” a Secret Service spokesman said without commenting further.

Julia Pierson was sworn into office on March 27 and is the first woman to head the Secret Service which protects the US president.

An FBI spokeswoman said they are aware of the reports but she would not say whether the federal bureau was investigating them.

The Internet domain country code for the island of Reunion is .re, while .su was the domain code for the Soviet Union.