How to qualify for a green card through your family

If you are the relative of a U.S. citizen or permanent resident, you may be able to apply for a green card.  As noted here, there are many benefits to obtaining a green card — it is a path to citizenship and gives you many rights and privileges along the way, such as the ability to work, travel in and out of the United States, and bring other family members into the United States.  Before you apply for the green card itself, there are two preliminary steps:  (1) a family member must file a petition on your behalf (using Form I-130),  and (2) a visa must be immediately available to you.  Whether a visa is available to you largely depends on who files the petition, so I will go through all of the different possibilities to give you a better sense of what you can expect.

People with U.S. citizens in their immediate family

If you have a U.S. citizen in your immediate family, that family member may file a petition on your behalf, and once the petition is granted, a visa is automatically available to you.

For example, if you are married to a U.S. citizen, your spouse may file a petition on your behalf (I-130), and you may apply for a green card right away.

Likewise, if you are the parent of a U.S. citizen, when your child turns 21, your child may petition on your behalf, and you may apply for a green card right away.

Also, if your parent is a U.S. citizen, and you are under 21 and unmarried, your parent may petition on your behalf, and you may apply for a green card right away.

Other people with U.S. citizens in their family

There are two other situations where a U.S. citizen may petition on your behalf, but a visa will not be automatically available to you.  Rather, once the petition is granted, you will be assigned a priority date and will fall into a preference category.  You will then have to begin consulting the Department of State Visa Bulletin to determine when a visa will be considered immediately available.

The first scenario is where your parent is a U.S. citizen and you are either married or have already turned 21.  In either case, your parent may petition on your behalf, but you will have to wait until a visa becomes available before applying for a green card.

The second scenario is where you have a sibling who is a United States citizen.  Your sibling may petition on your behalf, but, again, you will have to wait for a visa to become available.

People with green-card holders in their family

For certain people with permanent residents in their family, you may still qualify for a green card, but you will have to wait until a visa becomes available before applying for the green card itself.  As explained above, once the petition is granted, you will be assigned a priority date and will fall into a preference category.  You will then have to begin consulting the Department of State Visa Bulletin to determine when a visa will be considered immediately available.

There are two ways a you may qualify for a green card through a permanent resident relative.  First, if you are married to a permanent resident, your spouse may petition on your behalf, but you will have to wait for a visa to become available before applying for a green card.

Second, if you are the unmarried child of a green-card holder, your parent may petition on your behalf, but you will have to wait for a visa to become available.  If you are over 21, your permanent resident parent may still file on your behalf, but you will have to wait longer for a visa to become available.  There is no visa category for married children of permanent residents.

Applying for the green card

Once your immigration visa petition is granted and the visa is immediately available to you, you may begin the process of applying for the green card.  If you must apply for the green card outside of the United States (for those who entered without inspection, see here), you must attend an interview with a consular officer, who will then decide to issue an immigrant visa.  If there are no admissibility issues or other overriding negative factors, you will receive a visa packet, which you must then present to an immigration officer at a port of entry.  If you are deemed admissible, you will be admitted as a permanent resident, and you will receive your green card in the mail.

If you apply for the green card in the United States, you must file Form I-485 with USCIS, pay a filing fee, and undergo a background check.  If there are no admissibility issues or other overriding negative factors, the application will be granted, you will be deemed a permanent resident as of the date of the grant.

 

If you are interested in applying for a green card through your family, contact me today.

Call (480) 404-6334 or schedule a consultation online

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