There are many ways to apply for a green card (permanent resident status) to stay in the US permanently. The pathways come through employment, family relationships, diversity lottery, refugee/asylum status, and several special immigrant classes. But, most of the immigrants are applying for family based green card through a family relationship. It is found that 69 percent of the more than one million people who were approved a green card in 2019 were in fact in a family-based category according to USCIS statistics.

If you are a lawful permanent resident (green card holder), you may petition for the following family members, as long as you can demonstrate the authenticity of relationships:

  • Husband or wife;
  • Unmarried child under 21 years of age;
  • Unmarried son or daughter over 21 years of age.
Source: U.S. Department of State

If you are related to a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident then you can apply for a Green Card Through a U.S. Family Member. The family-based immigration is divided into two categories:

  • immediate relatives and
  • family-preference.

Immediate Relative Category

Immigration law classifies the spouse, unmarried dependent children (under age 21) and parents of U.S. citizens as immediate relatives. This group of immediate relative category is an exclusive group. This is because an immigrant visa is always existing. if you are an immediate relative then there is no “wait” for a visa. Immediate relatives aren’t subject to the long delays linked with other categories. immediate relatives only include:

  • Spouse of a U.S. citizen
  • Unmarried child under the age of 21 of a U.S. citizen
  • Parent of a U.S. citizen who is at least 21 years old

Family Preference Category

Most other eligible family members may enter into the family preference category with family sponsorship to the USA. This family preference category often has an extended delay of file processing. That’s because there is a limit of number of immigrant visas available to family preference immigrants each year.

  • Unmarried, adult sons and daughters (age 21 or over) of U.S. citizens
  • Dependent spouses and unmarried children (under age 21) of permanent residents
  • Unmarried adult sons and daughters of permanent residents
  • Married sons and daughters (any age) of U.S. citizens
  • Brothers and sisters of adult U.S. citizens

Other Relationships

Fiancé(e)s of U.S. citizens also have a pathway to permanent residence (green card), but they don’t appropriately fit into one of the categories mentioned above.

Additionally, the widow(er) of a U.S. citizen may be eligible for a green card if he or she was married at the time the U.S. citizen spouse passed away.

Then again, grandparents, grandchildren, uncles, aunts, nephews, nieces, cousins and in-laws may not be directly petitioned.

Source: U.S. Department of State

When the visa petition (Form I-130) is done and an immigrant visa is available, the family member may file the application for a green card. basically, there are two ways this may happen.

  • The family member may apply for a green card outside the United States, and
  • Certain people may apply inside the United States.

Applying for a Green Card Outside the U.S.

Majority of the people apply for a green card at a U.S. embassy or consulate outside the US. Previously, this was known as consular processing. The intending immigrant provides the application and all the documents asked as per checklist to the embassy. The embassy official will also go through a consular interview before granting the immigrant visa.

Applying for a Green Card Inside the U.S.

Some people who are really present in the United States through a legitimate entry may be able to use the adjustment of status process and get a green card. At the time of adjusting status, the applicant must have an immigrant visa immediately available to them. Normally, this makes adjustment available only to immediate relatives (who always have a visa ready). Some family preference immigrants who might have an approved I-130 and a visa is available may also be eligible to adjust status.

Source: U.S. Department of State

An adjustment of status application classically includes a package of forms and supporting documents to include:

  • I-693, Report of Medical Examination and Vaccination Record
  • I-765, Application for Employment Authorization (optional)
  • I-131, Application for Travel Document (optional)
  • I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status
  • I-130, Petition for Alien Relative
  • I-864, Affidavit of Support
  • I-130A, Additional Information for Spouse Beneficiary
Source: U.S. Department of State

Filing Fees: Varies to get green card for family members of a Permanent Resident.

Check the USCIS Fee Calculator

Source: U.S. Department of State