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Gainesville FL 32606

(352) 359-3910
Practice Limited Exclusively to Immigration and Nationality Law
U.S. Immigration Law

Green Cards for Family Members

Green Cards for Family MembersImmediate Relatives of U.S. Citizens

Immediate relatives are defined as spouses, children and parents of U.S. citizens. Visa numbers are immediately available for immediate relatives of U.S. citizens, making this category the easiest and quickest way to immigrate to the United States. For family-based preference categories, beneficiaries must wait 2 – 15 years for visas to become available.

Spouses of U.S. Citizens

Marriage to a U.S. citizen results in conditional resident status unless the marriage has existed for at least 2 years at the time the immigrant status is granted. Conditional residents must apply for removal of their conditional status within 90 days of the expiry of this 2 year period of conditional status. If the spouse of the U.S. citizen is in the United States, the petition for permanent residence and spouse’s application for adjustment of status are filed at the appropriate USCIS office. The spouse may also apply for work authorization and advance parole (if eligible) to be able to travel outside the U.S. while the adjustment application is pending. If the spouse is outside of the United States, the U.S. citizen submits the immigrant visa petition to the USCIS Service Center. On approval, the spouse applies for his or her immigrant visa at a U.S. Consulate abroad.

Children of U.S. Citizens

To qualify as an immediate relative, a child must be under 21 years of age and unmarried. A “child” may include a step-child as long as the child is under 18 years of age at the time the step-relationship is created. Adopted children are eligible as immediate relatives if they were adopted before attaining the age of 16 years and resided with the U.S. citizen parent in legal custody for at least 2 years before the filing of the immigrant visa petition.

Parents of U.S. Citizens

A U.S. citizen must be at least 21 years of age to apply for his parents.

Second Preference – Family Based

The family-based second preference category is for spouses and children of legal permanent residents (green card holders). This category is subdivided into two groups:

Second Preference – 2A

The 2A category is for spouses and unmarried children under 21 years of age of legal permanent residents (green card holders).

Second Preference – 2B

The 2B category is for unmarried sons and daughters over the age of 21 of legal permanent residents (green card holders). Please note that there is no preference category for a married son or daughter over the age of 21 of a legal permanent resident. However, if the legal permanent resident parent becomes a naturalized U.S. citizen, the married son or daughter will become eligible under the third preference category.

The number of immigrant visas in the family preference categories are subject to an annual numeric limitation for nationals of each country. The filing date of the immigrant visa petition established the priority date for the application.

Third Preference – Family Based

The family-based third preference category is for married sons and daughters of U.S. citizens.

The number of immigrant visas in the family preference categories are subject to an annual numeric limitation for nationals of each country. The filing date of the immigrant visa petition established the priority date for the application. The beneficiary of the petition cannot apply for permanent residence (green card) until that priority date is reached.

Fourth Preference – Family Based

The family-based fourth preference category is for brothers and sister of U.S. citizens. Unfortunately there is generally a 15 year backlog of visa numbers for this preference category.

The number of immigrant visas in the family preference categories are subject to an annual numeric limitation for nationals of each country. The filing date of the immigrant visa petition established the priority date for the application. The beneficiary of the petition cannot apply for permanent residence (green card) until that priority date is reached.

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