Overview of the Family Based Green Card Options
It is possible to obtain a green card based on sponsorship by a US Citizen or US Permanent Resident relative. This page will provide a basic overview of these options, and links to a more detailed overview of these various options. There is a main category for immediate relatives of US Citizens (spouses, parents and children), and then there are five “preference categories” where the wait time is longer, a fiancee visa category, and cancellation of removal which can lead to obtaining a green card.
Click on any of the following topics for a more detailed overview and to find additional articles, resources, case studies and more.
Family Based Categories List:
- Immediate Relative Petitions: This is the fastest route to obtaining a green card through a relative. If the beneficiary is the spouse, parent, or child (under the age of 21) of a US Citizen, then the citizen relative has the right to file a petition to grand the beneficiary a green card. The whole process generally is complete within less than a year, whether the beneficiary is located outside the US or in the US at the time the petition is filed.
- Preference Category Petitions: There are five preference categories, which are (i) F1, unmarried sons and daughters of US Citizens over age 21, (ii) F2A, spouses and children of US permanent residents, (iii) F2B, unmarried sons and daughters of US Permanent Residents over age 21, (iv) F3, Married sons and daughters of US Citizens over age 21, and (v) brothers/sisters of US Citizens. The petitioner has to be over 21 in these cases. The beneficiary can not actually apply for a green card until the petition becomes “current” and one must refer to the visa bulletin to see what the priority dates are for each of these categories, which gets revised on a monthly basis.
- K-1 Fiance(e) Visa Petitions: A US Citizen may file a petition for a fiance(e) visa for his or her fiance(e) who resides outside the United States. Once the fiance(e) enters the US, they have 90 days to get married, and apply for adjustment of status as an immediate relative spouse. There is a rule that the couple must have physically met within the past two years prior to the date the fiance(e) visa petition is filed (with a very limited exception).
- Cancellation of Removal: For those who are in removal proceedings (Immigration Court), if they have lived in the US for at least ten years from the time they arrived in the US to the time they were placed into removal proceedings, and they have been of good moral character, do not have certain criminal bars, and prove that their US Citizen spouse, parent or child would experience exceptional and extremely unusual hardship if the person in removal was removed, then a the removal proceedings may be cancelled and the person may apply to adjust status to obtain their green card.