Family-Based Green Cards

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Family-Based Green Card Attorneys

If you are a family member of a U.S. citizen or permanent resident, you may be able to obtain a green card based on that family relationship. Below are the different categories of family-based green cards and the procedures for applying, which vary depending on whether you are inside or outside the United States. The immigration lawyers at Bolour/Carl can help you navigate the process of acquiring a family-based green.

Immediate Relatives

There is an unlimited number of green cards available for immediate relatives of U.S. citizens every year. Immediate relatives include:

  • The spouse
  • Unmarried children under age 21 of a U.S. citizen
  • Parents of a U.S. citizen (if the citizen is over 21 years of age)

Family Preference

The family preference visa category applies to a broader range of family members of U.S. citizens and, in some cases, U.S. permanent residents. The number of green cards that are processed in this category is limited each year, with certain relationships receiving greater preference.

F1 First Preference

The F1 preference category is reserved for unmarried children of U.S. citizens who are age 21 and over.

F2 Second Preference

The F2 preference is broken out into two categories.

F2A visas are for spouses and children (unmarried and under age 21) of U.S. permanent residents.
F2B visas are for unmarried children (age 21 and older) of U.S. permanent residents.

F3 Third Preference

The F3 preference category is for married children of U.S. citizens.

F4 Fourth Preference

Finally, the F4 preference is for siblings of adult U.S. citizens.

How to apply for a family-based green card

If you are applying for an immediate relative or family-based green card, your U.S. citizen or permanent resident family member must file Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, with United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) on your behalf.

If you already live in the United States under a different status, you can apply to adjust your status using Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status. You will also have to submit supporting documentation, including Form I-864, Affidavit of Support, which your petitioner will have to fill out and sign, accepting financial responsibility for you.

As long as there is a visa available for you, you can file to adjust your status at the same time your family member files Form I-130, or you can file while Form I-130 is pending or after it has been approved. If a visa is not available, you will have to wait to file Form I-485.

If you currently live outside the United States, you must apply for your visa through a U.S. Embassy or Consulate in your country. You cannot do this until USCIS approves the I-130 petition and transfers your case to the National Visa Center. After you pay your fees, you must complete Form DS-260, Application for Immigrant Visa and Alien Registration online and submit supporting documentation. Your petitioner must submit Form I-864, Affidavit of Support, accepting financial responsibility for you. You must attend your interview on the scheduled time and date, at which point a Consular official will determine if you are eligible to obtain a green card.

Petition Number

Although green cards for immediate relatives are always available, family preference green cards are typically limited to 226,000 per year. This is divided into several sub-categories, based on the preference category and the applicant’s country of origin. No single country can account for more than 7 percent of the green cards in a particular category. If demand for your subcategory outstrips supply, you will be placed in a visa queue. You will be assigned a priority date, which corresponds with the date that the I-130 petition was property filed on your behalf.

The Department of State’s Visa Bulletin shows which green card applications can proceed based on the priority date. You can use the Visa Bulletin to estimate your wait time by monitoring how quickly you are moving up in line. The wait time may be several months or several years depending on your preference category and your country of residence.

If you would like to speak to a family-based green card lawyer, contact Bolour/Carl Immigration Group at 323-857-0034 or [email protected].

A Family-Based Guide To Green Cards

Family-based green cards play a pivotal role in reuniting loved ones in the United States, and this process typically will require the legal acumen of family-based green card attorneys. Our team understands the significance of keeping families together and navigating the complexities of immigration law. In this comprehensive guide, we will shed light on the essential aspects of family-based green cards, helping you understand the process and requirements involved.

Understanding Family-Based Green Cards

Family-based green cards, officially known as Permanent Resident Cards, are a means for U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents (green card holders) to sponsor certain family members for lawful permanent residence in the United States. This process is rooted in the idea of family reunification, allowing close relatives to live and work in the U.S. as permanent residents.

Eligibility Criteria

Before embarking on the journey to obtain a family-based green card, it’s crucial to understand the eligibility criteria for both sponsors (petitioners) and beneficiaries (family members seeking green cards). The eligibility primarily depends on the relationship between the sponsor and beneficiary. Common relationships that may qualify for family-based green cards include:

  • Immediate Relatives: This category encompasses spouses, unmarried children under 21 years of age, and parents of U.S. citizens. Immediate relatives enjoy certain advantages, including faster processing times and unlimited visa availability.
  • Family Preference Categories: These categories include unmarried adult children (both sons and daughters) of U.S. citizens, spouses, and unmarried children (minor and adult) of green card holders, as well as married children of U.S. citizens and siblings of U.S. citizens. However, some relatives may experience longer waiting times due to annual visa limits.

The Sponsorship Process

To initiate the family-based green card application process, the sponsoring family member (petitioner) must file an immigration petition on behalf of the beneficiary with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). The exact form depends on the relationship, such as Form I-130 for immediate relatives and the relevant preference category for other family members.

Once the petition is approved, it moves forward to the next steps, including visa availability and consular processing (if the beneficiary is outside the U.S.) or adjustment of status (if the beneficiary is already in the U.S.). Throughout the process, family-based green card attorneys can provide invaluable guidance and support, ensuring that all requirements are met and paperwork is filed correctly.

Navigating The Visa Bulletin

Family-based green card applicants must be aware of the Visa Bulletin, a monthly publication by the U.S. Department of State that outlines the availability of immigrant visas for different family preference categories. The length of time that an applicant must wait can vary based upon their country or origin and category. Understanding the Visa Bulletin is essential to managing expectations during the process.

Conditional Permanent Residence

For spouses who have been married for less than two years at the time of obtaining their green cards, conditional permanent residence is granted. These individuals must jointly petition to have the conditions removed within the 90-day period before the second anniversary of receiving the green card. Failure to do so could result in the loss of permanent resident status.

Maintaining Permanent Resident Status

Once a family member obtains a green card, they must adhere to certain obligations, including maintaining residence in the United States and renewing the green card when necessary. Family-based green card holders have the opportunity to work and live in the U.S. indefinitely, as long as they follow these requirements.

Seeking Legal Support And Guidance

Family-based green cards provide a pathway for U.S. citizens and permanent residents to reunite with their loved ones and help them establish lawful permanent residence in the United States. Navigating the complexities of immigration law can be a daunting task, which is why our team of experienced family-based green card attorneys is here to assist you every step of the way.

At Bolour / Carl Immigration Group, APC, we have a proven track record of helping families achieve their immigration goals. If you are seeking guidance or assistance in the family-based green card process, don’t hesitate to contact us. Achieving the American dream is within your reach, and we can help as your trusted advisors in reuniting families and achieving your goals. 

We invite you to reach out to us today for a consultation and start your journey towards family reunification through family-based green cards. Your family’s future in the United States awaits, and we are here to make it a reality.

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