Reuniting families on U.S. soil

Immigration is often a matter of urgency for families, especially when someone is left behind. Do not loose hope; there is a way to petition for relatives to receive a green card.

The route to bringing over a family member is categorized based on your relationship. Is the family member a sibling, parent  or spouse? The USCIS website has links to the proper paperwork for each family member.

Spouse: To petition for a spouse, fill out Form I-130. When turning in the form, you must also give proof of your citizenship, evidence of the relationship – in the form of a birth certificate or marriage license, etc – and proof of a legal name change if it applies. If a U.S. citizen is deceased and another family member would like to petition for the widow or widower, it can also be done with this form and the same documents.

Immediate relatives: Immediate relatives are defined as “immigrant relatives of U.S. citizens” and include spouses, children and parents of the citizen. Immigrant relatives living in the U.S. can file Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status, and Form I-130 to be awarded a green card simultaneously.

Preferences: Relatives falling outside the immediate relative category get broken down by preference. To petition for the spouse of a green card holder or a child of that individual over the age of 21 be sure to file Form 130. Family members are then reviewed by priority of their preference category. Relatives in preference categories are awarded visas in the order of their priority, once a visa becomes available. Preference category breakdown can also be found at the USCIS website.

The next step: Family members already in the U.S. can file to become a green card holder by filling out Form I-485. Petitions for relatives living outside of the U.S. are sent to and processed by the National Visa Center (NVC). When a visa becomes available, the NVC will pass the petition on to a U.S. consulate and the relative will be notified.