Bringing Family Members to America: A Guide for Green Card Holders and U.S. Citizens

Posted by Lisa Liu | Nov 06, 2023 | 0 Comments

America, known as the land of opportunity, offers a multitude of possibilities for individuals seeking employment and education opportunities. For many, the dream includes reuniting with their families in the United States. In this blog post, we will explore the process of bringing family members to America, depending on your immigration status.

If you are a Green Card Holder (Permanent Resident):

As a Green Card holder, you have the privilege of petitioning for certain family members to join you in the United States as permanent residents. The eligible family members include:

1. Spouse (husband or wife)
2. Unmarried children under 21
3. Unmarried sons or daughters of any age

If you are a U.S. Citizen:

If you are a U.S. citizen, you have broader options for petitioning certain family members to come to the United States. These include obtaining a Green Card, a fiancé(e) visa, or a K-3/K-4 visa based on your relationship. The eligible family members encompass:

1. Spouse
2. Children
3. Parents
4. Siblings
5. Fiancé(e)
6. Fiancé(e)'s child

The waiting time for your family member's immigration process may vary depending on the specific category they fall into.

Immediate Relative Category:

This category includes:

- Spouses of U.S. citizens
- Children (unmarried and under 21) of U.S. citizens
- Parents of U.S. citizens (Please note that the petitioning citizen must be 21 or older)

For immediate relatives of U.S. citizens, visas are readily available, eliminating the need for waiting in line.

Preference Category:

Preference categories are designed for family members who are not immediate relatives. Visas for these categories are subject to annual numerical limits, and their availability depends on the priority date (the date the Form I-130 was filed). Preference categories are grouped as follows:

- First preference: Unmarried, adult sons and daughters of U.S. citizens (adult means 21 or older)
- Second Preference (2A): Spouses of Green Card holders, unmarried children (under 21) of permanent residents
- Second Preference (2B): Unmarried adult sons and daughters of permanent residents
- Third Preference: Married sons and daughters (any age) of U.S. citizens
- Fourth Preference: Brothers and sisters of adult U.S. citizens

To find out more about priority dates, please visit the Visa Availability and Priority Dates page.

Processing Steps:

- If your relative is already in the United States, they may apply to adjust their status to become a Green Card holder (lawful permanent resident) after a visa number becomes available using Form I-485 or by concurrently filing with I-130 in most situations.

- If your relative is outside the United States, your petition will be sent to the National Visa Center (NVC). The NVC will forward your petition to the appropriate U.S. consulate when a visa becomes available, and your relative will be notified about how to proceed. This process is referred to as "consular processing."

The waiting time for an immigrant visa number will depend on your family member's preference category. For visa availability information, please refer to the Visa Bulletin page on the U.S. Department of State website.

Bringing your family members to America is a significant step, and understanding the immigration process is crucial. Whether you are a Green Card holder or a U.S. citizen, navigating the system can be complex. It's recommended to consult with an experienced immigration attorney to ensure a smooth and successful immigration journey for your loved ones.

Lisa Liu   Esq.

LL Law Firm

About the Author

Lisa Liu

Attorney Lisa Liu is the founder of LL Law Firm. Established with a mission to enhance family protection through quality legal services in family-centered matters, LL Law Firm strives to be your trusted and accessible community legal resource in the community. Drawing from her years of experience...


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