Applying for a Green Card through Family
Many U.S. Citizens and green card holders that currently reside in the U.S. were at one time in the past, sponsored through a U.S. Citizen family member. A green card makes an immigrant eligible to live permanently in the U.S. and enjoy the rights, benefits, and privileges similar to that of a U.S. citizen. There are many ways to apply for a green card, like through:
- Special immigrant category
- Victims of abuse category
- Diversity immigration visa program and so on
Only certain family members can submit applications on behalf of their relatives to qualify for permanent residency. Before starting the application process, it is best to know what are the eligibility requirements and visa wait times. The following blog specifically focuses on who all can apply for family green card.
Family Green Card for Immediate Relatives
If you are an immediate relative of a U.S. citizen, you are eligible to apply for the green card. In fact, the applicants in this category enjoy fast and hassle-free procedure to become the lawful permanent residents or green card holders. You would be happy to know that the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) promises special priority to the green card applications of the immediate relatives. This is the reason that the petitions I-130 (for immigration) and I-485 (for the adjustment of status or green card) can be filed at the same time if the intending immigrant is residing in the U.S.
The category includes:
- Children who are under 21 and unmarried
- Parent of a U.S. citizen over 21 years old
Family Green Card for Other Relatives
Other family member or relatives of a U.S. citizen that are eligible to apply for the green card include:
- In case of a U.S. citizen:
- Son or daughter who is 21 years or older and unmarried
- Son or daughter who is married
- Brother or sister (in this case, the U.S. citizen must be at least 21 years old)
- In case of a lawful permanent resident:
- Children who are below the age of 21 and unmarried
- Unmarried children 21 years or older
Preference Categories and the Visa Bulletin:
It is worth mentioning that immigration preference is given to different immediate and other relatives. It is as follows:
- F-1: For the unmarried children and dependents (minor children) of the U.S. citizens
- F-2A: For the unmarried children below 21 and spouses of the lawful permanent residents
- F-2B: For the children above 21 of the lawful permanent residents
- F-3: For the married children of the U.S. citizens
- F-4: For the siblings of the U.S. citizens who are at least 21 years in age
Although there are many ways in which U.S. Citizens and Lawful Permanent Residents can sponsor their family members, it is very important to always check the Visa Bulletin.
The Visa Bulletin is a publication published by the United States Department of State that affects all immigration for the United States. It will determine whether a relative will have to wait outside the U.S. for their immigrant visa, or whether they can file concurrently the I-130 and I-485 from within the U.S. The primary purpose of this bulletin is to provide immigrants with information as to their position on the long waiting list for green card availability.
Green Card for Fiancé and Fiancé’s Children
If you have entered the U.S on the K-1 fiancé visa with the intention of marrying the U.S. citizen who sponsored your visa, you can apply for the green card only after you get married to the same person within 90 days of entering the country.
If you have brought along one or more child on the K-2 visa after securing a K-1 fiancé, they are also eligible for the green cards. Again, it would be possible only after you are married to the U.S. citizen who sponsored you all.
It is important to note that all marriage based green cards where the applicant and petitioner have been married less than two years at the time of adjudication will qualify for Conditional Residency (CR-6). A Conditional Resident Card is a 2 year green card that grants the holder the same benefits as those with a ten year residency card, the only difference is that Conditional Residents will have to file a separate petition for Removal of Conditions (I-751) no more than 90 days before the expiration of their lawful permanent resident status.
Other green card eligibility
If you are a widow or widower of a deceased U.S. citizen, you may be eligible for a green card even if your spouse never took steps to petition you prior to their death. Before October 2009, the green card was granted to the widow or widower who had been married to the deceased U.S. citizen at least for two years at the time of his or her death. However, the obligation was abolished in October, 2009. Now, you just need to prove that you were legally married to the U.S. citizen at the time of his or her death and this would make you eligible for the green card application. In addition, you must not have been divorced or legally separated from the U.S. citizen at the time of death.
If you are the victim at the hands of a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident, the Violence against Women Act (VAWA) grants you the eligibility to apply for green card. For this, you would need to prove that you are a victim of battery or cruelty from a:
- S. citizen who is your spouse (present or former), parent, son or daughter
- Lawful permanent resident who is your spouse (present or former) or parent
For this, the knowledge of consent of the abuser is not required and you may file a self-petition (Form I-360).
What about Other Relatives?
There is no way that makes grandparents, uncles, aunts, nieces, nephews and other relatives or family members of a U.S. citizen or those of a lawful permanent resident eligible to apply for a green card. However, a good idea would be to first let the immediate relatives or other eligible family members obtain the green card. Once they become a lawful permanent resident, they may further repeat the procedure for other relatives.
For example, if your parents are able to obtain the status of permanent residents, then they can apply for U.S. citizenship. Once they become the citizens of the country, they can help their parents (your grandparents) to obtain the green cards. They can also sponsor their brothers and sisters (your aunts and uncles) who can then in turn sponsor their own children.
Applying for the Green Card
In order to apply for the family green card, you would need to fill the Form I-485 to request for the Adjustment of Status. You must also meet the requirements that you:
- Were inspected and admitted to the United States
- Are physically available in the country when the Form I-485 is filed
- Are still in relation with the person who sponsored your immigration visa and more
Some of the documents that you would need to provide with the application include:
- A government-issued ID proof which features your photo
- A birth certificate copy or any other document mentioning your date of birth
- Inspection and admission documents
- Immigrant category documentation
- Affidavit of support
- Certified records from police or court stating criminal charges, arrests and convictions, if any
Though it seems to be a fairly easy process to apply for and receive a green card, you may face some hurdles during the process. It is always a wise step to get your case and application reviewed from an attorney or relevant experts who may help you overcome these hurdles.