Family Based Green Card
If you have a green card or are a United States citizen, you are able to sponsor certain relatives for a family based green card.
Who Can Get a Family Based Green Card?
If you are a United States citizen, you can sponsor the following people:
- Your spouse
- Your parents
- Your children (including those over 21 years old); and
- Your siblings (brothers and sisters).
If you are a green card holder, you can sponsor the following people:
- Your spouse; and
- Your children (including those over 21 years old).
What is the Family Based Green Card Process?
There are two general ways that a family member may apply for a green card. One is within the United States, and the other is abroad at the consulate near your relative’s residence. Whether one may be able to apply for a family based green card in the United States depends on many factors, including:
- Where your relative currently resides,
- Whether your relative has any past immigration or criminal violations resulting in inadmissibility issues; and
- Whether your relative is considered an “immediate relative”; and
- Whether your relative was admitted or paroled into the United States.
Adjustment of Status
If your relative can apply for their family based green card in the United States, you will either have to file the Petition for Alien Relative (Form I-130), followed by the Application for Adjustment of Status (Form I-485), or you may be able to file them both at once. We also file several other forms for our clients when they file for adjustment of status, such as permission to travel and permission to work while waiting for the decision on their green card.
Most people must apply for their family based green card through consular processing, which takes place outside of the United States at a U.S. Consulate. The first step is to file a Petition for Alien Relative (Form I-130). Once that is approved, you must wait for your relative’s priority date to become current before they can consular process. Your relative’s priority date is determined by their relationship to you, and sometimes by their age and the country they are from. Once their priority date is current, they can complete their application online, submit necessary supporting and financial documents, and ultimately schedule a visa interview. If the visa is approved at the interview, your relative will be able to enter the United States as a green card holder!
How Long Will it Take to Get a Family Green Card?
As mentioned above, how long it will take to get a family based green card depends on your relative’s relationship to you (the Petitioner) and possible their age and what country they are from.
Spouses of United States citizens, children of United States citizens who are under 21, and parents of United States citizens are considered “immediate relatives” for the purposes of family green cards. This means that a visa is immediately available for them and they do not have to wait for their priority date to become current. They do, however, have to wait for each part of the case to be processed, which still takes months.
The rest of the beneficiaries are placed into groups called “Preference Categories” which are divided based on relationship to the petitioner. Those from China, India, Mexico and the Philippines can face longer wait times because of where they are from. Every month the Department of State publishes a visa bulletin, which lays out the preference categories and tells us what priority dates they are currently working on.
If you are considering sponsoring a relative for a family based green card, feel free to reach out and schedule a consultation to discuss your case. These cases are complex and we always recommend that you have a competent immigration attorney handle your case.
Biesenthal & Gray, LLC / 9300 Olive Blvd., St. Louis, MO 63132 / 314.226.1944