Persons who wish to immigrate to the United States of America may qualify if they have close relatives living in the U.S. Permanent resident status or “green card status” is the next step to obtaining full U.S. citizenship. One of the easiest ways to obtain a green card is through a family member who is a full U.S. citizen.

Pursuing a family-based resident status can be a great option for those who qualify. If you are interested in hearing more about the process or whether you meet the criteria, call Tucker, Nong and Associates right away. Our experienced green card lawyers can help you pursue legal status based on an existing family relationship.

Green Cards Based on Family Relationship

Many who have green cards have obtained that status because of the applicant’s background in education or work. In the case of a family-based green card, however these factors aren’t necessary to obtain a green card. The applicant’s spouse and unmarried children less than 21 years may also receive these cards as accompanying relatives.

It is important to know that these green cards are a privilege, not a right. Misuse of your green card status can result in losing it. For instance, the following actions will result in a green card being taken away.

  • If you make your primary home outside the U.S.
  • If you commit a crime
  • If you do not inform immigration authorities of an address change

If you successfully keep your green card for five years (three years if you are married to and still living with a U.S. citizen during that time), you can then apply for full U.S. citizenship.

Eligibility Categories

There are three main categories under which relatives can obtain green cards through relatives:

  • An immediate relative of a U.S. citizen, which is defined as a spouse, an unmarried child under the age of 21 or a parent if the U.S. citizen is over the age of 21. Immediate relatives have a special priority and don’t need to wait in line for a visa number to immigrate, because there are an unlimited number of visas for their categories.
  • preference relative of a U.S. citizen or green card holder is categorized as a person who is not an immediate relative, but are unmarried sons or daughters more than age 21, married children of any age, and brothers or sisters if the U.S. citizen petitioning the green card is more than age 21. Congress has limited this number who may immigrate under this category, so there may be a waiting period.
  • An accompanying relative of a person in a preferred category noted as below:

The following preference categories apply when petitioning for a green card for a relative:

  • First Category: Adult (more than 21 years old), unmarried children of U.S. citizens
  • Second Category (2A): Spouses of green card holders, unmarried children (less than 21) of permanent residents.
  • Second Category (2B): Unmarried adults children of permanent residents
  • Third Category: Married children of any age of U.S. citizens
  • Fourth Category: Siblings of adult U.S. citizens

Who Qualifies as an Immediate Relative?

The immediate relative status is the one that will work best for those hoping to immigrate. Immediate relatives may immigrate to the U.S. in unlimited numbers. There are no annual quotas or limits such as those that affect the preference relative categories which can create waits that amount to years.

The following foreign-born people qualify as immediate relatives.

Spouses of U.S. citizens. 

These spouses include those couples who are legally married, no matter where the marriage took place. It also includes widows and widowers of U.S. citizens if they were married for at least two years and are applying for a green card within two years of the citizen’s death.

Unmarried children of a U.S. citizen, less than 21 years of age

Parents of U.S. citizens, if the U.S. citizen child is more than 21 years of age

Stepparents and stepchildren qualify as immediate relatives, as long as their parents were married before the child’s 18th birthday. In some cases, parents and children through adoption may also qualify as immediate relatives.

Special Family Situations

  • A foreign-born person may be able to obtain a U.S. green card from one of the following special situations:
  • Battered Spouse, Child or Parent. If a person is a battered spouse, child or parent, you can file an immigrant visa petition under the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) as amended by the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). This law allows the abused to file for a green card without the knowledge of their abuser.
  • Consideration of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). On June 15, 2012, the Secretary of Homeland Security announced that certain foreign-born children were able to be considered for green cards when they came to the U.S. as children. They must meet several considerations of deferred actions for two years, which is subject to renewal

Do You Need Help In Getting Your Green Card Or Visa in Virgina, Maryland or Washington D.C.?

If you're trying to obtain a Green Card or Visa you need to speak with an experienced immigration attorney as soon as possible. Please contact us online or call our Vienna, Virgnia office directly at 703.991.7978 or our Rockville, Maryland office at 301.637.5392 to schedule your case consultation.

Yuvora Nong
Helping VA, MD & Washington D.C. clients with all of their immigration law legal needs since 1997.