Becoming a United States citizen or even obtaining a green card is challenging for many immigrants. Due to this, many are looking for easier ways to legally immigrate to and live in the United States without being at risk for deportation.
One such way to legally travel to and stay in the United States without being deported or denied entry is by obtaining a family-based green card. The U.S. government offers priority immigration access to immediate family members of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents, and this process is often referred to as family-based green cards.
If you believe that you or a family member would benefit from receiving a family-based green card, you must act quickly and hire an immigration attorney to assist you with the petition process. These green cards are offered on a first-come-first-serve basis. Thus your petition must be filled out quickly and accurately to give your family members the best chance of having their petition granted.
What is a Family-Based Green Card?
While all green cards, also known as permanent resident cards, allow non-citizens to live and work in the United States, there are different ways to obtain them. For those who do not have immediate family living in the U.S., the process of obtaining a green card is troublesome, and you are not guaranteed to receive one.
For those with immediate family living in the U.S., the process of obtaining a green card is much easier, and it is often guaranteed thanks to family-based green card applications. Family-based green cards are only available for immediate family members of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents.
This means that spouses, children, parents, and even siblings of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents are eligible to apply for and receive a green card thanks to the immigration status of their family members. Once you have received your family-based green card, you are considered a lawful permanent resident of the United States, and you are able to obtain a job, travel into and out of the U.S., and live in the United States.
Who is Eligible for a Family-Based Green Card?
The Immigration and Nationality Act includes an addendum that allows non-citizens to immigrate to the United States based on their relationship to a current U.S. citizen or legal permanent resident. While the addendum in the Immigration and Nationality Act allows for family-based green cards, it also includes a limit for the number of people who can receive them each year.
In order to determine how many family-based green cards are to be given out each year, the USCIS sorts petitions into one of two categories: unlimited and limited. The category you or your family member belong to will determine their likelihood of receiving a green card.
Unlimited Family-Based Green Card Eligibility
There is no limit to the number of green cards available to immediate relatives of U.S. citizens. This means that the spouse and all unmarried children under the age of 21 are eligible to receive a family-based green card.
In addition to spouses and children, the parents of U.S. citizens aged 21 or older are also eligible to receive a family-based green card.
Limited Family-Based Green Card Eligibility
Family members who do not meet the criteria listed above can still apply for a family-based green card, but these green cards are given out on a first-come-first-serve basis. Here is how the limited family-based green cards are divided out:
- Family First Preference (F1): 23,400 green cards are set aside for unmarried sons and daughters of U.S. citizens and their children.
- Family Second Preference (F2): 114,200 green cards are set aside for spouses, minor children, and unmarried children (over 20 years old) of lawful permanent residents.
- Family Third Preference (F3): 23,400 green cards are set aside for married sons and daughters of U.S. citizens, spouses, and children.
- Family Fourth Preference (F4): 65,000 green cards are set aside for brothers and sisters of U.S. citizens and their spouses and children, so long as the U.S. citizen is 21 years or older.
Due to the limited number of green cards for non-immediate family members, you need to submit your green card petition early and make sure that your petition is filled out correctly. If you wait too long to submit your petition or even make a simple mistake while entering your information, you are at risk of having your petition denied.
The best way to ensure your petition is submitted on time and filled out correctly is to work worth an experienced immigration attorney. The immigration law team at Jackson White Law has years of experiencing assisting their clients in obtaining visas, becoming citizens, and even obtaining family-based green cards. Contact us below to start the process of applying for a family-based green card.