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Who is eligible for a family-based green card?

On Behalf of | Jun 25, 2021 | Family Immigration |

Many immigrants who venture to the United States tend to settle in Maryland, Washington D.C. and Virginia. The combination of ample opportunities, a pleasant place to live and the proximity to the nation’s capital are just some of the reasons for this. Getting a green card to live in the U.S. legally is a relief and a time of excitement for these individuals. Still, they will also be concerned about their families who are back in their country of origin. As soon as they are settled, one of the first things they will think about is getting their family members into the U.S. legally as well. Since these green card holders have adhered to the law themselves, they will need to understand how to secure permanent residency for their loved ones.

Green card family-based eligibility categories

There are five categories of eligibility for a green card through family: immediate relative of a U.S. citizen; other relative of a U.S. citizen or relative of a permanent resident based on family-based preference; a fiancé or fiancée or a child of one; a widow or widower of a U.S. citizen; or a Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) self-petitioner. Family-based preferences go from F1 to F4 (First Preference to Fourth Preference). F1 is for sons and daughters of U.S. citizens who are 21 and older and are unmarried. F2 are spouses and unmarried children of lawful permanent residents who are under 21. F3 is for children of U.S. citizens who are married. F4 is for the brothers and sisters of U.S. citizens who are 21 or older.

Those who are applying for admission to the U.S. under these categories should also remember various important points. Those who have the highest preference will frequently get their green card within one year of applying. This is true if the case proceeds smoothly. The country from which a person is coming from may also factor in with the length of time it takes. Those from the Philippines, Mexico, India and China might take longer.

This is not due to a lack of desire on the part of the U.S. to have people from those countries come to the U.S., but because there are usually a substantial number of those countries’ citizens who want to emigrate to the U.S. Even stepparents and stepchildren can be given a green card if the conditions warrant it. Another option to reunify families quicker is to have a temporary visa while trying to acquire the family-based green card. There is a law called the Legal Information Family Equity Act (LIFE) that allows this for a spouse, a child and children of a fiancé or fiancée to come to the U.S. legally prior to getting a green card.

Facing the complexities of the immigration process may require assistance

Those who have come to the U.S. to live and work will undoubtedly want their families to join them with a family-based green card. As complicated as the individual’s journey likely was, it can be intimidating to think about the various requirements to bring a family to the U.S. legally. However, it is perfectly legal and people are welcomed to the U.S. to join their loved ones. Since the process can be confusing and complex, it is wise to have professional assistance from the start. This can be beneficial to avoid having the process delayed or stopped in its tracks by a clerical mistake or some other preventable misstep. Consulting with those with experience in these cases can be critical for a positive outcome.