Overview on Green Card for a Family Member of a U.S. Citizen.

File a Form I-130 if U.S. citizens want their relatives to immigrate to the United States. You can Petition for Alien Relative, for spouse, children and if the U.S. citizen is at least 21 years old, their parents and brothers or sisters can be petitioned for.

You may be in what is called a “family preference category” if your relationship does not qualify you as an immediate relative of a U.S. citizen. Then Eligible relatives include:

  • Unmarried sons or daughters over the age of 21
  • Married child(ren) of any age
  • Brothers and sisters (if the U.S. citizen petitioner is over the age of 21)

Under these categories congress has limited the number of relatives who may immigrate each year so before an immigrant visa number becomes available there is usually a waiting period.

The steps required to get a green card (permanent residence) for relatives of a U.S. citizen in a preference category is discussed below:

If applicant is Inside the US how to get a Green Card?

You may be able get family based green card to become a permanent resident in two steps if you are currently in the United States and are one of the specified categories of relatives of a U.S. citizen in a preference category:

Step One –Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative must be filed by U.S. citizen family member (sponsor) for you and it must be approved. You must wait for your priority date in your immigrant visa category to become current. Your priority date is the date when the Form I-130 is properly filed (with correct fee and signature) on your behalf by your U.S. citizen relative.

Step Two – You may file for Adjustment of Status with Form I-485, Application to Adjust Status or Register Permanent Residence once the priority date in your visa category is current. Adjustment of Status is the process you go through to become a Permanent Resident.

If applicant is Outside the US how to get a Green Card?

You can become a permanent resident through consular processing if you are currently outside the US and are one of the specified categories of relatives of a U.S. citizen in a preference category. Consular processing is when we work with the U.S. Department of State to issue a visa on an approved Form I-130 petition when a visa is available. The Department of State will issue you a visa in this process. If approved, you may then travel on the visa and when admitted at a U.S. port of entry you will officially become a permanent resident.

Points to ponder:

The Child Status Protection Act (CSPA). In certain cases, the CSPA may allow you to retain the classification of “child” even if you have reached age 21. Generally, your age is “frozen” as of the date your U.S. citizen parent files Form I-130 for you.

If going to get Married: You must notify USCIS of any change in your marital status after Form I-130 has been filed for you and prior to becoming a permanent resident or obtaining an immigrant visa. If you are the unmarried son or daughter of a U.S. citizen and you get married prior to becoming a permanent resident, then you no longer qualify as an “Unmarried Son or Daughter of a U.S. Citizen” and will convert to the category of “Married Son or Daughter of a U.S. Citizen.” This change in categories may result in a significant delay in your immigrant visa becoming available.

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