Green Card for Family Preference Immigrants
A U.S. citizen can petition for their foreign family members to obtain permanent residency status in the U.S. The family-based immigrants are classified into two groups: immediate family category and family preference category. Each category defines the type of relationship of a family member to their U.S. petitioner, which prioritizes the foreign family member in obtaining the green card.
What are Family-Based Green Cards?
Family-based green cards allow the immediate relatives of a U.S. citizen, preference relatives of U.S. citizens or a green card holder, or accompanying relatives to obtain permanent residency in the U.S. With each of these categories, there are several different conditions under which an immigrant may be eligible to apply for permanent residency in the U.S.
The rules for the family preference immigrants depend on their relationship to the U.S. sponsor and the latter’s living conditions. Compared to other types of green card applications, the educational and employment history are not required to support the case of family preference immigrants.
Classification Based on Family Preference
An applicant can apply under the family preference immigration category if they fall under the following categories as defined by the U.S. Immigration laws:
- Family first preference (F1) – Unmarried children (21 years or older) of the U.S. citizen;
- Family second preference (F2A) – Subcategory F2A is for lawful permanent residents’ spouses and unmarried children (under 21);
- Family second preference (F2B) – Unmarried sons and daughters of lawful permanent residents who are at least 21-years-old;
- Family third preference (F3) – Married children of a U.S. citizen;
- Family fourth preference (F4) – Sisters and brothers of U.S. citizens where the U.S. citizen is 21 years or older.
Family-based immigration is processed through a quota system, which can take many years before you become a green cardholder.
If the applicant is a minor, spouse, adopted orphan in the U.S. or from a foreign country, or parent of a U.S. citizen, they can apply for a green card through the immediate family category.
Application Process for the Family-based Green Card
Required Documents for the Beneficiary
You would need the following documents to apply for the family preference immigration:
- A copy of your passport page with admission or parole stamp by U.S. immigration, if applicable;
- A copy of your birth certificate;
- A copy of your marriage certificate, if applicable;
- A copy of your marriage termination document, if applicable;
- Other evidence to prove the relationship to the sponsor.
Depending on your circumstances, you may be required to submit the additional necessary documentation.
These steps need to be followed to apply for the green card as a family preference immigrant:
Your U.S. Sponsor Files a Petition
The U.S. citizen or the lawful permanent resident must prove that they are eligible and willing to sponsor you. The sponsor needs to file a Form I-130 to the USCIS. The approval of the petition will follow if the criteria are met.
Wait For the Process & Approval
Depending on the workload of the service center of USCIS in charge of your petition, it takes about 6-12 months to process the I-130. In case of any missing evidence, the petitioner will be sent a Request for Evidence. The delay in submitting the RFE will keep the process on hold and add in the total process time. The delay can be avoided by submitting all requirements along with the I-130.
If this petition is approved, a visa application will be available to the foreign beneficiary, who will then apply to continue the process for the green card.
Application for the Green Card
There are different ways for applicants based in the U.S. on a nonimmigrant visa and for applicants outside of the U.S.
Adjustment of Status
The applicant must file for adjustment of status in order to get a green card. The process is carried out by filing an I-485 form and proving eligibility for the family preference category that you have applied for. The applicant must be present in the U.S. at the filing of the form. Given that they were inspected and admitted or inspected and paroled into the U.S., you will be given an immigrant visa. This will help to change your status from nonimmigrant to immigrant.
The Sponsor Demonstrates Ability to Support
If the I-130 is approved, the sponsor must prove that they can financially support the family members until they are employed and credited to the 40 quarters of work. This step requires the sponsor to file an I-864 Affidavit of Support, in which they prove that their income meets the minimum requirement equivalent to 125% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines. You will need the following documents to apply:
- Affidavit of support;
- Most recent tax returns;
- Recent paystubs;
- State identification.
The applicant will receive status adjustment as soon as their priority date becomes available, and they are a beneficiary of an approved form I-130.
Applicants Outside U.S.
Once an applicant has received an approved form I-130, they can apply for the green card by completing the DS-260 with the National Visa Center. Once the DS-260 form is processed and fees are paid, the sponsor must submit to the NVC the Affidavit of Support, most recent tax returns, police report, civil documents and two recent passport-sized photographs. Once all the documents are completed, according to the NVC, an interview at the US Embassy or Consulate abroad is scheduled. During the interview the applicant must bring a medical examination and biometrics exam.
Once the immigrant visa package is complete, the officer will stamp the immigrant visa on the applicant’s passport. Once the immigrant arrives to the US, he/she will receive the green card in the mail to the US address.
Employment Under a Family-Based Green Card
Generally, any family-based green card application for immediate relative categories is entitled to employment in the U.S. The individual can apply for employment authorization by filing Form I-765. However, this is only reserved to relatives that live legally in the U.S. when the immigrant visa is immediately available.
How Can Terra Immigration Partners Help You?
Applying for U.S. permanent residency can be tricky and a long process for both the applicants and the petitioner. Our expert immigration lawyers make your process efficient by eliminating the delays, rejections, and denials that may come with it.
Terra Immigration Partners are dedicated to solving your migration problems with extensive knowledge and experience of every green card process. If you are having trouble with your family preference immigration process, consult our immigration lawyers today.