December 17th, 2009 by Eric J. Ramos
How do I get my family a Green Card? (Mother, Father, Children, Spouse, Brother and/or Sister)
As a US citizen, you may petition for permanent residency for your immediate relatives. Your immediate relatives include your spouse, your parents (if you are over 21 years old), and your children (if your children are under age 21 and unmarried). Green cards through immediate relatives of US citizens are unlimited, so your immediate relative will not have to wait for an immigrant visa to become available.
US citizens may also petition for green cards for other relatives that are not considered immediate relatives. These relatives fall under the family-based preference visa categories. The number of visas for these categories is limited by Congress, so these family members may have to wait for a visa to become available in their category.
Family-based preference categories include:
- Unmarried sons and daughters over the age of 21
- Married children of any age
- Brothers and sisters if the US citizen sponsor is over the age of 21
If you are a legal permanent resident, or “Green Card” holder, you can also petition for permanent residency for your family members. Permanent residents may petition for their spouses and unmarried children of any age. There is usually a waiting period before a visa becomes available due to numerical limitations.
In any of the above cases, you must file Form I-130, Petition for an Alien Relative, on behalf of your family member(s). In this petition you will have to provide personal information about yourself and your family member as well as proof that you are related.
If you are a US citizen filing Form I-130 for an immediate relative, your relative can file Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status, at the same time that you file Form I-130. Your relative is not required to file at the same time; he or she may choose to wait until after you file Form I-130. If your relative is out of the country, he or she will have to apply for the green card through immediate relative at a US consulate abroad after your Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, has been approved. At the consulate, your relative will receive a passport stamp if the application for a green card through immediate relative is approved. Your relative can enter the US as a permanent resident with this stamp.
Family members that are not eligible for a green card through immediate relative will have to wait for your Petition for Alien Relative to be approved before filing their applications to adjust status. They must also wait for a visa to be available in their category. You can check the availability of visas by referring to the visa bulletin. The visa bulletin is issued by the Department of State every month and states whether visas are available in each immigrant visa category. Once a visa is available in the appropriate category, your relative can apply for adjustment of status. If your relative is already in the US in another status, he or she can file Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status. If your relative is outside of the US, he or she will need to apply for a green card at a US consulate. Your relative will receive a passport stamp allowing him or her to enter the US as a permanent resident. Within a few months after entry, your relative should receive a green card.