Green Card for Family
Family of U.S. citizens and green card holders are eligible for permanent residence. If you are a U.S. green card holder or citizen, then you may petition to bring your family to the United States.
Green cards for family members of United States permanent residents and citizens are sorted by preference category. Each preference category is associated with a number of visas that are allotted per year to individuals who qualify for the category. There are 9 family preference categories.
Immigrant Visas for family are obtained through the Department of State. Your relationship to the U.S. citizen or permanent resident will determine which preference category you should apply in. The preference categories are:
- Immediate Relative Immigrant Visas. These visas are unlimited, meaning that after you file your immigrant petition, Form I-130, you do not have to wait for a visa number to become available before filing Form I-485. You also have the option to file concurrently.
- IR-1: Spouse of a U.S. Citizen
- IR-2: Unmarried Child under 21 Years of Age of a U.S. Citizen
- IR-3: Orphan Adopted Abroad by a U.S Citizen
- IR-4: Orphan to be Adopted in the U.S. by a U.S. citizen
- IR-5: Parent of a U.S. Citizen who is at least 21 years old
- Family Preference Visas. These visas are limited, meaning that only a few are allotted each year. You must wait for a visa number to become available before filing Form I-485, Green Card Application.
- Family First Preference (F1): Unmarried sons and daughters of U.S. citizens, and their minor children.
- Family Second Preference (F2): Spouses, minor children, and unmarried sons and daughters (age 21 and over) of U.S. permanent residents.
- Family Third Preference (F3): Married sons and daughters of U.S. citizens, and their spouses and minor children.
- Family Fourth Preference (F4): Brothers and sisters of U.S. citizens, and their spouses and minor children, provided the U.S. citizens are at least 21 years of age.
To get a green card for a family member, the U.S. citizen or green card holder (permanent resident) will need to file Form I-130, Immigrant Petition for Relative. The purpose of Form I-130 is to establish the relationship between the sponsor (U.S. citizen or permanent resident) and the applicant. Documentation will need to be provided as evidence of the relationship - birth certificate, marriage certificate, etc.
Unless filing concurrently, you will need to file Form I-130 before filing Form I-485. After the I-130 petition is approved and a visa number is available for you, you may file Form I-485, Application for Green Card.
Immediate relatives of U.S. citizens can file concurrently. Concurrent filing is filing the I-130 and I-485 at the same time. This is possible because there are an unlimited number of visas for immediate relatives of U.S. citizens.
Form I-485 is Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status. It is the application for a Green Card. The I-485 is filed personally by the applicant immigrant. Once your I-485 is accepted, you will receive a green card and become a permanent resident of the United States.
A green card is a government identification that signifies you as a lawful permanent resident (LPR) of the United States. Permanent residents are able to live and work in the United States permanently and have the opportunity to become U.S. citizens.
What is proof of permanent residence?
A copy of your green card proves your permanent resident status.
What is proof of citizenship?
A copy of your United States passport or naturalization certificate proves your U.S. citizenship.
What is a visa number?
Most visa numbers are eight digits, both letters and numbers. Your visa number is printed on your visa in red ink and located in the bottom right corner. It is a unique identifying number.
What is the visa bulletin?
The visa bulletin keeps track of visa priority dates. You can check the visa bulletin at the Department of State's website to see when a visa is available for you. In many cases, you cannot apply for a visa until your priority date is available.
What is a nonimmigrant?
A nonimmigrant is someone who is issued a visa for temporary stay in the United States. Immigrants are persons who are issued green cards and reside permanently in the U.S.