Green card through Marriage & Family

Two major ways through which you can obtain permanent residence or immigrant green card status are by a family green card or a marriage green card. Your sponsor must be a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident (green card holder).

In most cases the sponsor must first file an I-130 petition for you. There are two types of family immigrants – immediate relatives of US citizens or family preference immigrants. Immediate relatives of US citizens are: a spouse, an unmarried minor children and a parent if the U.S. citizen is 21 or older. There are no caps or quotas for immigrant visas for immediate relatives. The family preference system, on the other hand, is governed by caps and annual numerical quotas that limit the amount of immigrant visas that are available in any year.

If you are applying to immigrate to the United States you must be admissible. If you have certain past criminal convictions, misrepresentation to obtain a visa, unlawful presence, false claim to U.S. citizenship, you may be inadmissible. This means you may be barred from obtaining a green card or immigrating unless a waiver is available and the Attorney General approves a waiver for you.

Green card through Marriage – Spouse

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If you are the foreign spouse of a U.S. citizen and in a bona-fide marriage you may be eligible for a green card. Following the U.S. Supreme Court decision in the landmark case, United States v. Windsor, marriages between same sex couples, are also valid for immigration purposes.

If the marriage is less than two years old at the time you are granted a green card you will receive a 2 year “conditional permanent resident card”. This means that the conditional resident status will terminate unless  you file a joint or waiver petition to remove conditions on residence on form I-751 within 90 days before your conditional green card expires.

If you was lawfully admitted or paroled into to the United States, you may obtain a green card by a one step adjustment of status process. Your U.S. spouse must complete form i-130 petition for alien relative at the same time that you file your green card application on USCIS form I-485. You must also complete a medical examination and vaccination by a USCIS civil surgeon.

If you the foreign spouse outside the United States, you must undergo a two-step process, called consular processing to become an immigrant. First, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) must approve a form i-130 petition for alien relative petition filed by the U.S. citizen or permanent resident. In most cases no interview is required of the U.S. petitioner but interviews at a USCIS local office may be involved in a minority of cases. Second, if you are outside the United States the National Visa Center will notify you to complete processing for an immigrant visa when an immigrant visa number is available. An immigrant visa number is immediately available if your US spouse is a citizen. If your US spouse is a lawful permanent resident immigrant visa availability is government by the Visa Bulletin. When the U.S. consulate in your home country interviews you and issues you an immigrant visa you become a permanent resident when you are inspected and lawfully admitted to the United States at a port of entry.

You should be aware that just being married to a US citizen or lawful permanent resident or having qualifying family in the US does not give you an inherent right to get an immigrant visa and legal residency in the United States. You must be admissible to the United States. You may be found inadmissible the United States because of prior immigration violations, deportation, fraud or misrepresentation, criminal activity or other reasons defined the Immigration and Nationality Act. Even if you are inadmissible an immigration waiver may be available in certain circumstances.

Family Green Card for a Parent

Parents of U.S. citizens (21 or older) can obtain a green card. Parents may include adoptive parents and stepparents even if the marriage creating the step-parent relationship has ended. A non-genetic gestational mother (person who carried and gave birth to the child) who is also the child’s legal mother at birth may now be recognized in the same way as genetic legal mothers are treated under the INA. In some cases blood tests, proof of cohabitation and support may be necessary to prove the parent-child relationship.

If the parent was lawfully admitted to the United States, the person may obtain a green card by a one step process which involves the filing of an immigration petition by the U.S. citizen son or daughter at the same time as the parent’s application for a green card.

There is a two-step process for a parent outside the United States to become an immigrant. First, the USCIS must approve a petition filed by the U.S. citizen. Second, the United States the National Visa Center will notify the parent to complete processing for an immigrant visa which will be issued at a U.S. Consulate abroad. A parent who is inspected and lawfully admitted to the United States with a valid immigrant visa is a permanent resident upon admission.

Family Green Card for Child under 21

An unmarried person under 21 who is the child of a U.S. citizen can obtain a green card. The person is a child for immigration purposes if the definition of a child under Section 101 (b) of the INA is satisfied. Child may include legitimate child (born in wedlock), legitimated child (born out of wedlock), step-child, adopted child or orphan if specific requirements are met for each category of child. For a step-parent U.S. to immigrate a child the marriage creating the step parent must have occurred before the child was 18 years old.

While a mother may petition for the immigration of her child for whom she was the legal mother at birth, the rules are different for fathers. For a natural father to immigrate a child born out of wedlock, legal custody and legitimation of the child must occur before age 18. A biological father may petition for an illegitimate child if a bona-fide parent-child relationship existed before age 21. Ties of blood are not enough. To establish a “bona fide parent-child relationship,” there should be a showing that the father and child at some point actually lived together, or that the father held out the child as his own, or that he provided for some or all of the child’s needs, or that in general the father’s behavior evidenced genuine concern for and interest in the child. See Matter of Vizcaino, 19 I & N Dec. 644 (BIA 1988).

Family Green Card for Siblings

A person who is the sibling (brother or sister) of an adult U.S. citizen can obtain a green card through the sibling relationship. The person and the U.S. citizen must have at least one parent in common. The immigration process for siblings is a three-step process. First, the USCIS must approve a petition filed by the U.S. citizen. Second, the priority date of the immigrant visa petition receipt must become earlier than the cut-off date for sibling petitions on the visa bulletin of the U.S. State Department. This means that a visa number is available and processing of the immigrant visa application can begin. Third, if the person is outside the United States when an immigrant visa number becomes available, the National Visa Center will notify the person to complete processing for an immigrant visa which will be issued at a U.S. Consulate abroad.

Contact our green card lawyer today!

Some persons may have more than one green card option available. It is therefore necessary to evaluate your immigration options to determine which one would be fastest and most advantageous. Working with a green card lawyer can significantly speed up the time for getting permanent residence and permanent employment in the United States.

Please contact our Nevada immigration firm and Attorney Gary Goodin for a detailed review of your case before filing applications and petitions. We can also help you with issues related to family based green cards or permanent resident status such as complex removal of conditions on residence and fiance visas. Our service even includes attorney representation at interviews at the USCIS office in Las Vegas, Nevada.