Family-Sponsored Green Card

One of the easiest avenues to obtaining a green card is through a family member. However, depending on whether a person is eligible as an immediate relative or in one of the preference categories, it can also be one of the slowest routes.

A spouse of a U.S. citizen, parents of U.S. citizen children over 21, and unmarried children of U.S. citizens can qualify for a green card as an immediate relative. The immediate relative category has no annual quota restrictions, making this avenue one of the faster routes to a green card.

When a U.S. citizen petitions for a green card for their new spouse, the new spouse will be granted a conditional green card. The USCIS will conduct an interview of the couple as one means of assuring that the marriage was not entered into fraudulently, for the primary purpose of obtaining immigration benefits. Ninety days before the two year anniversary of receiving the conditional green card, the immigrant must petition the USCIS to have the condition removed. Failure to do so will result in automatic termination of the green card. The couple does not still need to be married to have the condition removed. As long as the marriage was entered into in good faith and was a valid marriage, the condition can still be removed.

The other categories for obtaining a green card through a family member are broken down into four preference categories. Each category has an annual visa quota restriction, making the wait for a visa range from five to twelve years. Unfortunately, citizens and nationals from India, Mexico, and the Philippines often have even longer waits. The preference categories are as follows:

First preference: Unmarried people of any age, with at least one U.S. citizen parent.

Second preference: 2A: Spouses and children under 21, of green card holders; 2B Unmarried sons and daughters of green card holders who are at least 21.

Third preference: Married people of any age, with at least one U.S.citizen parent.

Fourth preference: Sisters and brothers of U.S. citizens, where the citizen is at least 21.