Family-Based Immigrant Visas (Green Cards)
One way of applying for a green card to live in the United States indefinitely is through family-based immigration.
A U.S. citizen may apply for:
- A spouse or unmarried children under 21-years of age (Immediate Relatives);
- Unmarried sons and daughters over 21-years of age (1st Preference);
- Married sons and daughters (3rd Preference); and
- Brothers and sisters (4th Preference).
A green card holder (“Lawful Permanent Resident” or “LPR”) may apply for:
- A spouse or unmarried children under 21 (2A Preference); and
- Unmarried sons and daughters over 21-years of age (2B Preference).
Once someone qualifies for a family-based immigrant visa, he or she must:
- Have an approved family-based I-130 petition from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”);
- Have a current priority date based on the Visa Bulletin issued by the U.S. Department of State; and
- The priority date of the petition depends on the preference category. It can be thought of as a waiting period based on the family relationship. For instance, the spouse of a U.S. citizen (an “immediate relative”) has a visa number which is immediately available. By contrast, a brother or sister of a U.S. citizen (a 4th preference category) can generally expect to wait over ten years for a current priority date.
- Apply for an immigrant visa with the U.S. Department of State if outside the United States, or for adjustment of status if in the United States.
Those who entered without inspection, who have removal/deportation orders, and/or who have or had criminal problems may not be eligible for an immigrant visa or for adjustment of status in the United States. As a result, it is extremely important to contact us or schedule an initial consultation to discuss your particular case.
Please also visit the rest of our website to see other ways to obtain a green card to live in the United States.