Family Based Immigration

Individuals can get Green card through family members. U.S. citizens could petition for certain qualified immediate relatives like spouse, unmarried child under the age of 21 and parent (if the U.S. citizen is over the age of 21). Immediate relatives have special immigration priority and do not have to wait in line for a visa number to become available for them to immigrate because there are an unlimited number of visas for their particular categories. The U.S. citizen may also file for unmarried sons or daughters over the age of 21, married children of any age, and brothers and sisters of U.S. citizen petitioners 21 or older. A Green Card holder could sponsor only for their spouses and unmarried children. An individual could become a permanent resident (get a green card) through a special family situation (K non-immigrant, person born to a foreign diplomat in United States, V non-immigrant or a widow(er) of a U.S. citizen. 

Immediate Relative

U.S. immigration law allows U.S. citizens to petition for certain qualified relatives to come and live permanently in the United States. Eligible immediate relatives include the U.S. citizen’s spouse, unmarried child under the age of 21, and parent (if the U.S. citizen is over the age of 21).

Note: When an immediate relative child of a U.S. citizen reaches the 21 years of age, he or she generally will become a “first preference” (F1) category son or daughter (over 21 years of age) of a U.S. citizen, and will no longer have a visa immediately available. In certain cases, the Child Status Protection Act (CSPA) may allow immediate relative to retain the classification of “child” even if he or she has reached age 21. Generally, the age is “frozen” as of the date his or her U.S. citizen parent filed Form I-130. If an immediate relative child under age 21 gets married, he or she can no longer be classified as an “immediate relative” and will become a “third preference” (F3) category married son or daughter of a U.S. citizen and a visa would no longer be immediately available.

Immediate relatives have special immigration priority and do not have to wait in line for a visa number to become available for them to immigrate because there are an unlimited number of visas for their particular categories.

The U.S. citizen must file Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative for each qualified relative.

An immediate relative is eligible to apply for a green card (permanent residence) while inside the United States.  Besides filing the Form I-130, the immediate relative must apply Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status, to become a permanent resident.  If immediate relative is outside United States, the immediate relative becomes a permanent resident through consular processing. Consular processing is when USCIS works with the Department of State to issue a visa on an approved Form I-130 petition when a visa is available. Immediate relative may then travel on the visa and will officially become a permanent resident when admitted at a U.S. port of entry. If the immediate relative does not apply for an immigrant visa within one year following notification from the Department of State, the petition may be terminated.

Conditional Resident

Marriage Based

The spouse of a U.S. citizen or an immigrant investor may be granted permanent resident status on a conditional basis. A conditional permanent resident receives a green card valid for 2 years. In order to remain a permanent resident, a conditional permanent resident must file a petition to remove the condition during the 90 days before the card expires/before the second anniversary of the approval of his or her conditional status. The conditional card cannot be renewed. The conditions must be removed or the alien will lose his or her permanent resident status.

A conditional resident who obtained status through marriage must petition to USCIS for removal of conditions on his or her residence by filing Form I-751, Petition to Remove Conditions on Residence. Failure to file will result in automatic termination of permanent resident status as of the second anniversary of the date on which the conditional resident was granted conditional status.  In such case, the conditional resident may be removed from United States.  If failure to file was through no fault of conditional resident, he or she may submit a written explanation along with Form I-751 for the late filing. Failure may also be excused if conditional resident demonstrates that the delay was due to extraordinary circumstances beyond his or her control, and that the length of delay was reasonable.

The petition should be filed jointly by the conditional resident and his or her spouse through whom the conditional resident received conditional status. However, the conditional resident may apply for a waiver of the joint filing if he or she entered marriage in good faith, but subsequently the spouse died or marriage was terminated due to divorce or annulment. Also, waiver is available if he or she entered marriage in good faith and remained unmarried but have been battered or subjected to extreme cruelty by U.S. citizen or permanent resident spouse. Another ground available for waiver is when he or she can show that termination of status and removal would result in extreme hardship.