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Family-Based Green Cards

Family-based green cards are some of the most commonly sought options for achieving lawful permanent residence in the United States. However, the process of applying for a family-based green card is not typically as simple, or expedient, as you may think.

Continue reading to learn more about different classifications of family-based green cards, the application process for family-based green cards, and how The Alagiri Immigration Law Firm can help.

What are Family-Based Green Cards?

A family-based green card is one of several various legal options for people 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 ways to get a family-based green card. The first is going through the process of applying while living in the U.S.

If a family member (the family-based green card beneficiary) is not already living in the United States, they would need to go through consular processing. This would either be done at an American Embassy or Consulate abroad before they come to live and work in the U.S. permanently. In addition, they will be interviewed by a consular officer in regards to their family relationship. The petitioner has to complete several other steps of the process as well.

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

The type of documents needed for a family-based green card depends on who the applicant is.

For example, if you are applying based on marriage, you would have to show substantial proof that your marriage is legitimate. However, no matter the type of green card application, all applicants must have a birth certificate. The birth certificate must also comply with the requirements USCIS has for birth certificates for each country. If applicants do not have a birth certificate, then alternative types of birth documentation must be provided.

If your birth certificate does not meet USCIS’ requirements, then your green card application can be significantly delayed or even denied. Our immigration attorneys can help evaluate whether your birth certificate, alternative documents, and other supporting documentation will pass scrutiny.

Types of Family-Based Green Cards

There are two primary categories for family-based green cards: immediate relative green cards and 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

One of the primary benefits for immediate relative green card applicants is that these green card applications get a higher preference over other forms of family-based green cards. Another benefit of immediate relative green cards is that the U.S. does not set an annual limit or cap on how many can be granted.

What is a Family Preference Green Card?

A family preference green card is for family members who are not immediate family. Unlike immediate family green cards, there are certain limits and restrictions involved with these types of visas.

Family Preference Green Card Categories

The family preference green card is a visa status different from that of immediate relatives. The number of visas in this category is limited, and processing times are longer than immediate relative green card applications.

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 Family-Based Green Cards

Another route to gaining permanent residence in the United States involves marriage to a U.S. citizen. There are two primary options for pursuing a marriage-based green card: K-1 fiancé visas and K-3 spouse visas.

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 beneficiary 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 Immigration 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 specialists at our immigration firm today, to learn more about family-based green cards and your options.

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EB-1A Visa Masterclass:

By Priya Alagiri, ESQ. Founder, The Alagiri Immigration Law Firm

Friday, February 10, 2023, 12 PM, PST on ZOOM

Join me for Part 2 of my EB-1A “Extraordinary Ability” Visa Masterclass! I will discuss the second step of the two-step analysis that USCIS conducts prior to approving an EB-1A application, called the “final merits determination.”