If you are a US citizen, you can petition for certain qualifying family members to receive US permanent residence and a green card. Learn more about who, how, and how long it takes.
Which of my family members qualify for a green card?
Under current US Immigration and Nationality Laws, a US citizen can petition green cards one behalf of the following relatives:
- Spouse (husband or wife)
- Unmarried children under the age of 21
- Child of any age
- Parents (if you are 21 or over)
- Siblings (if you are 21 or over)
How do I petition for green cards for my family members?
The first step to obtaining a green card for a qualifying family member is to establish a relationship by filing Form I-130 with USCIS. Once Form I-130 is receipted by USCIS, a priority date is issued. The priority date will determine when the relative will be able to process their green card. After Form I-130 has been approved and the wait time has been met, the consular processing or adjustment stage begins. If the process is successful, a green card will then be issued.
The process of petitioning for a Green Card for a spouse can be done from inside or outside the United States, and is handled differently depending on whether the family member is already in the United States in legal status or whether they will be processed at a consulate.
- Inside the US. If the family is already in the United States, a valid immigration status Form I-130 and Form I-485 can be filed together. Once the I-130 and I-485 are approved a green card will be issued.
- Outside the US. If the family member is not within the United States, the process will begin by filing Form I-130 through a US consulate. Once Form I-130 is approved, the family member will then begin consular processing for their green card.
How long does the green card process take for my family members?
For certain qualifying relationships, there is no wait time to obtain a visa. Others must wait until a visa number is available before obtaining their green card. Wait times for family-based green card petitions can be placed into two categories:
- Immediate relatives ARE NOT subject to wait times. Spouses, parents, and children under the age of 21, and siblings are not subject to wait times.
- Family preference immigrants ARE subject to wait times. Married children, children over the age of 21, and siblings are subject to wait times. Currently, visa wait times range from a few years to several years.
No matter what your qualifying relationship is, we advise our clients to file Form I-130 as soon as possible so that they can begin the process to obtain permanent status for their loved ones at the earliest date possible.
How difficult is the green card process for my family members?
It is important that the petition process be handled carefully. Petitions for family members are not guaranteed, and are often delayed and denied due to filing mistakes. Failure to properly petition for your loved one(s) can result in unnecessary delays and added expense. Most importantly, if the process is handled correctly, your loved ones will receive their permanent resident status without delay.
It is best to engage the services of an experienced immigration attorney early on in the process. Working with an experienced immigration attorney will give you peace of mind and save you time and money in the long run.
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We Can Help!
Don’t know where to start? If you are a qualifying family member of a US Citizen, or you are a US Citizen petitioning for a loved one, we can help. The immigration lawyers at Richards and Jurusik Immigration Law have more than 20 years of experience assisting US citizens petition for their loved ones—whether they are currently within the United States or waiting overseas. Contact us today for assistance with your immigration matter, starting with an assessment.