Alagiri Immigration Law Firm


From One Home to Another:
The Family-Based Immigrant Visa Journey Explained

Family Based Green Card Applications

Family based green card applications are likely the most common route to obtaining a green card.  If you are you looking for ways to achieve lawful permanent residence in the United States, then this green card option may work for you.

While family based green card application are highly popular, the process for obtaining a family based green card may not be as simple or quick as you think. Read on to discover the various family based green card classifications, the application process, and how The Alagiri Immigration Law Firm can assist you.

What are Family-Based Green Cards?

A family based green card is one of several options for noncitizens who want to take up residency and work in the United States. Family members include spouses, parents, children who are younger than 21 years of age and not married, and married or divorced kids/adults over 21 years old. If you are qualified for a family based green card, then your U.S. citizen or permanent resident relative has to go through the process of petitioning the government on your behalf.

There are two methods to apply for a family based green card:

  1. Adjustment of Status
  2. Consular Processing 

Adjustment of Status or Consular Processing?

What Documents Do I Need for a Family Based Green Card?

The specific documents you need will depend on your individual situation. For instance, if you are applying based on marriage, you will need to provide substantial proof that your marriage to your U.S. citizen spouse is genuine. However, regardless of the type of green card, all applicants must have a birth certificate that complies with USCIS requirements. If your birth certificate does not meet these requirements or you do not have a birth certificate, which is often the case for Indian citizens, you’ll need to provide alternative forms of birth documentation. Failing to provide a birth certificate that meets immigration visa requirements can significantly delay or even result in the denial of your green card application. That is why it is essential to work with an experienced immigration attorney, especially one with extensive experience handling Indian green card applications. Our team will evaluate your birth certificate, alternative documents, and other supporting documentation to determine whether they meet USCIS standards.

Type of Family Based Green Cards

There are two primary categories for family based green cards:
1. Immediate relative green cards; and
2. Family preference green cards.

What is an Immediate Relative Green Card?

An immediate relative green card is designated for immediate relatives of the sponsor. You may qualify for an immediate relative family green card if you are an immediate relative of an existing U.S. citizen and meet certain eligibility requirements.

This classification of family based green card is reserved for:

  • Spouses of U.S. citizens
  • An unmarried child of an existing United States citizen, under the age of 21
  • The parent of a U.S. citizen, as long as the citizen is 21 or older

Visas are immediately available for immediate relative green card applicants, which is a huge benefit to this category. Another benefit is that there is no annual limit or cap on how many can be granted.

"Priya and her team have been absolutely and consistently wonderful over the years that we’ve been using their services. Very detail oriented and professional. Unlike many attorneys I had to work with in the past, Priya has this amazing quality of putting you at ease while getting things accomplished in a prompt and quality manner. Really, can’t thank her enough."

What is a Family Preference Green Card?

Family preference green cards are for family members who are not defined as “immediate” family (i.e., spouses, parents, or children of U.S. Citizens). Unlike immediate family green cards, there are certain limits and restrictions involved with these types of visas.

Family Preference Green Card Categories

Those who do not fall under the immediate relative category would apply for a green card under one of the family preference green card categories.  The number of visas in this category is limited, and, thus, processing times are longer than for the immediate relative green card category.

There are four distinct subcategories of family preference green cards:

  • First Preference: The F1 category is for unmarried children (of an existing green card holder) who are over the age of 21.
  • Second Preference: The F2A category is for the spouses and unmarried children (younger than 21 years of age) of legal permanent residents (i.e., green card holders). The F2B subcategory is reserved for unmarried sons and daughters (21 years of age and older) of lawful permanent residents (green card holders).
  • Third Preference: The F3 category is for married sons and daughters of U.S. citizens.
  • Fourth Preference: The F4 category includes brothers and sisters of U.S. citizens, age 21 and over.

Marriage Options for a Family Based Green Card

If you are engaged to marry a U.S. citizen, then you can pursue the K-1 fiancé visa route to obtaining a green card.

K-1 Fiancé Visas

A K-1 fiancé visa allows a foreign fiancé of a U.S. citizen to travel to the U.S. to marry that U.S. citizen. Their future spouse is the sponsor of their visa. Once in the U.S. on the K-1 Fiance Visa, the foreign fiancé must marry their U.S. citizen sponsor within 90 days. Afterward, the spouse would be eligible to apply for a K-1 green card.

K-3 Spouse Visas

The K-3 visa is a visa that allows spouses of U.S. citizens, who have pending immigrant visa petitions, to enter the U.S. The spouse (green card beneficiary) of the U.S. citizen would have their status changed to become a permanent resident, as soon as the immigrant visa petition is approved. The purpose of the K-3 visa is to shorten the time that a married couple must remain apart while an immigrant visa petition is pending.

How Our Family Based Green Card Attorneys Can Help

If you need assistance or support with your family-based green card petition, application, or the filing process, The Alagiri Immigration Law Firm can help. Contact our family based green card lawyers  to learn how we can help you.

Our Clients' Success Stories!