Family based Green card
What is a family based green card?
A family based green card is an immigrant visa which grants a foreign national “legal resident” status in the United States.
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Who qualifies for a family based green card?
The family members that are eligible for sponsorship will depend on the sponsor’s U.S. status
U.S. Citizens can sponsor:
- A spouse;
- Unmarried children under the age of 21;
- Unmarried sons or daughters over the age of 21;
- Married children of any age;
- Brothers and sisters (only if the US citizen is over the age of 21).
Legal permanent residents (green card holders) can sponsor:
- A spouse;
- Unmarried children of any age.
What is the family based green card process?
If you are interested in applying for a green card for your spouse, please see our marriage based green card page for more information. Applying for a family based green card is a two-step process.
1. File an I-130 application
a. This application is very important and requires various forms and evidence to be submitted. VISANOW will work with you and your family member to assemble a strong case that includes substantial supporting documents and evidence. Once the approval is received, the family member will have to wait until his or her priority date becomes present. To check on the priority dates for the different preference categories, please see the visa bulletin ( we can link to a resource in our resource center that provides a link to the VISA Bulletin and also a quick explanation how to read the bulletin.
2. Once the I-130 priority date becomes present, the second step will depend on whether the foreign national family member is located inside or outside of the U.S.
a. If the family member is inside the U.S., then an adjustment of status application should be filed. It is critical that this application is meticulously assembled and that the applicant is properly prepared for his or her interview.
b. If the family member is located outside of the U.S., then the consular processing step will be followed. This step can be very confusing and time consuming. Very specific documents are required and various government filing fees have to be paid. VISANOW will guide you through this process step by step to ensure that your family member comes to the U.S. as quickly as possible.
How long will the green card process take?
Visa priority is granted to the immediate relatives of U.S. citizens; which includes spouses, unmarried children under the age of 21, and parents. Visa numbers are always immediately available and standard processing times apply to these applications.
All other qualifying relatives of U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents fall under the “family preference category”. Since congress allows a limited number of visas per year for these preference categories, there is a significant backlog of filed petitions. The processing time is tracked by the VISA Bulletin, which will inform you of which priority dates USCIS is currently processing. You can check out the VISANOW resource center for more information on the visa bulletin.