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Family-Based Green Card

If you are an immediate family member of a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident, you may be eligible for a family-based green card.

Our immigration attorneys are more than happy to help you with further information regarding family immigration and any other process as regards U.S. immigration. Do not hesitate to call us on + 1 844 290 6312 for any questions or assistance. You can also chat with us online if you prefer that option.

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    Overview of Family-Based Green Card

    A US Family-based green card is a visa that permits you to join an immediate family member in the U.S., provided you and your sponsor meet the eligibility criteria.

    It is important to note that you can only apply for the family-based green card if you are a child (including adopted), spouse (including fiancé(e)) or sibling or parent of a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident. Other family relations, asides these specific brackets do not qualify for family-based visas.

    With a green card, you can live, work, study, or travel in and out of the U.S. for a designated time. It is also a route towards being a U.S. citizen.

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    Types of Family-Based Green Cards

    There are many types of family-based green cards, and the type you’d need to apply for depends on the status of the family member sponsoring your application.

    There are three types of family-based green cards, and they are:

    • The Immediate Relative Visa (I.R.)
    • The Family Preference Immigration Visa (F)
    • The K-1 Fiancé(e) Visa

    Immediate Relative Visa

    If your family member is a U.S. citizen, you must apply for the Immediate Relatives Visa (I.R.). The I.R. visa also has sub-categories depending on your relationship with your family member. Below are the sub-categories:

    • IR-1 visa, if you are the spouse
    • IR-2 visa, if you are an under-21 unmarried child of a U.S. citizen
    • IR-3 visa, if you were adopted abroad by a U.S. citizen
    • IR-4 visa, if a U.S. citizen wants to adopt you as a child in the US
    • IR-5 visa if you are a parent of a U.S. citizen who is over 21 years of age.

    For the I.R. visa, there are no annual caps. So, if you meet the eligibility requirements, you can apply whenever you want, and your visa will be processed.

    Family Preference Immigrant Visa

    If your family member is a U.S. lawful permanent resident, you must apply for one of the Family Preference green cards. The family preference visa (F-visa) also has categories depending on your relationship with your family member. Below are the family preference categories:

    • First preference (F1) visa, if you are 21 years and older and an unmarried child of a U.S. lawful permanent resident
    • Second preference (F2) visa, if you are a spouse or child (under 21 and unmarried) of a U.S. lawful permanent resident.

    Under the current immigration law, only unmarried children can apply for family-based green cards. Married children cannot. Other family members like cousins and grandparents are not also eligible for the family based immigrant visa.

    For the family preference categories, there is an annual limit. The U.S. consulate only approves 114,200 immigrant visas per fiscal year. Other applications would have to wait till the following year to be considered. It can take years to process your family preference category visa application as the Consulate would have to process the visas before yours.

    Ready to reunite with your loved ones? Contact us and apply for a Family-Based Green Card and bring your family together in the US. Contact Us

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      Who Could be Classed as an Accompanying Relative?

      In a Family Based Green Card visa petition, the spouse and unmarried children (under 21) of the person who the application is based on will automatically be included in the immigration process.

      A person under these circumstances is known as the “derivative” beneficiary. The derivative beneficiary process applies to all preference relative visa permit applications, unless the applicant requests for them not to be.

      Including an accompanying relative in the visa petition will start the immigration process for that accompanying relative. However, keep in mind that there is no specific application for an accompanying relative, meaning you cannot receive Green Card based on being an accompanying relative of a preferred relative.

      Eventually, an accompanying relative will need to submit their own independent applications for a Green Card or immigrant visa to remain in the USA.

      Fiancé(e) (K-1) Visa


      If you want to be married to your partner who is a U.S. citizen in the U.S., you’d need to apply for the 90-day fiancé(e) visa. This visa permits you to only stay in the U.S. for 90 days to get married. If, after 90 days, you do not marry your U.S. citizen partner, you’ll need to leave the U.S.

      If you marry within 90 days, you and your partner must apply for a family-based green card that will permit you to live, work and study in the United States without returning home.

      Eligibility Requirements for the Fiancé(e) (K-1) Visa

      The first criterion to meet is that your sponsor must be a U.S. citizen. U.S. lawful permanent residents or green card holders cannot sponsor foreign nationals to get a K-1 visa.

      Your U. S citizen sponsor will have to prove to the U.S. Consular Officers that they intend to marry you within 90 days. In addition, your sponsor has to convince the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and the Consular Officers of the genuineness of your relationship.

      Your U.S. citizen partner must also prove that you both can marry legally in the U.S. If either of you were in a previous marriage, you must present death or divorce certificates from the previous marriage.

      You must also prove that you have met your partner physically at least once in the last two years before your application.

      Lastly, your U.S citizen partner has to show that they can take care of you during your stay in the U. S.

      How to Apply for the Fiancé(e) (K-1) Visa

      Your U.S. citizen partner is the person that starts the process. First, they must file a petition for alien fiancé(e), Form I-129F.  This form essentially shows that the relationship between the petitioner and the beneficiary is genuine.

      The U.S citizen partner will also provide the following:

      • Proof that they are a U.S citizen;
      • A copy of the petitioner’s U.S passport;
      • Pictures and correspondence that show the genuineness of the relationship;
      • Photos, correspondence, and flight tickets that show the two partners physically have met in the past two years;
      • Proof that you two intend to marry within 90 days of entry into the United States, like evidence of a hired venue, caterer, wedding planner or photographer;
      • Death or divorce certificates of previous marriages;
      • Passports of both partners not taken earlier than 30 days before the petition is filed.

      These documents will be sent to the USCIS, where they will be reviewed and a decision made. If USCIS approves the decision, the application is sent to the National Visa Center, which sends it to the Consulate of your country of residence.

      The embassy of your country of residence will notify you and give you a detailed guide on proceeding with your K-1 visa application. First, you’d need to fill a DS-160 Form online and then attend a visa interview at your country’s U.S. embassy.

      The consular officer at the embassy would determine if your relationship with your U.S. citizen partner is genuine. If it is, your visa will be approved.

      Processing Fees

      To apply for a K-1 visa, your U.S. citizen partner must pay $535 for Form I-129F. This is paid before submitting the application at USCIS.

      A payment of $265 will also be made to the U.S. Consulate in the beneficiary’s country for processing the K-1 visa.

      Processing Times

      Processing times vary. Although, usually, it takes around 5 to 7 months to process.

      Discover your options for the K-1 Fiancé(e) Visa. Let us help you navigate the process, contact us today. Contact Us

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        How to Apply for Family-Based Green Cards


        If you are applying for a green card visa via the immediate relative or family preference immigrant visa route, your family member in the U.S. has to file a Form I-130, also known as Petition for Alien Relative, for you. This is the first step in getting permanent residence in the U.S.

        • Filing the Petition
        • Consular Processing
        • Adjustment of Status Pathway

        Filing the Petition

        The Form I-130 is used to prove the relationship between the petitioner and beneficiary. Once the petition is approved, the rest of the application process can continue. When filing the petition, the petitioner has to indicate if the family member coming over would apply for status adjustment later. This is done by indicating only option 1 in Form I- 130.

        The petitioner can either fill the form online or download, complete and mail the form to any of the USCIS centers at Chicago, Dallas, Phoenix or Elgin Lockbox.

        The filing fee the petitioner has to pay is $535 via credit card, check or money order. This fee is non-refundable even if the petitioner withdraws the application or if USCIS rejects the application.

        After the petitioner sends the Form I-130 form to the USCIS and gets a positive response, the next step depends on where you are when applying for the green card.

        If you are outside the United States, you must follow the consular processing pathway. If you are already in the United States, you’ll need to follow the adjustment of status pathway.

        Consular Processing

        After USCIS approves your relative’s petition, they will send it to the National Visa Center (NVC). Your approved petition will remain there until you have an immigrant number.

        The NVC will notify you and your sponsor when an immigrant number is available. They will also inform you when to submit supporting documents and visa processing fees.

        After this payment and reception of the visa number, the U.S. consulate will schedule you for an interview in your country of residence. Then, they will determine if you will be granted a visa.

        If you are granted a visa, you’ll get a visa packet with specific instructions not to open it. Instead, you’ll give this packet to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection officer at the point of entry into the United States. They are the last to determine if you will enter the U.S. and stay permanently.

        After you enter the U.S., your green card will be sent to your mail within 45 days.

        Adjustment of Status Pathway

        If you are already in the U.S., you do not need to return to your home country to apply for a green card. You simply have to adjust status.

        After USCIS approves your relative’s petition, they will send it to the National Visa Center (NVC). If you are a relative of a U.S. citizen, you can file your Form I-485 immediately.

        If your relative is a U.S lawful permanent resident, your approved petition will remain there till there is an immigrant number for you. When this visa number will be available is dependent on your priority date.

        Filing Form I-485

        When you are ready to file Form I-485, you must file it at the Nebraska Service Center. It is also advised that you submit all your supporting documents and medical examination and vaccination record report (Form I-693) at the same time you file Form I-485. This is to save processing time.

        The filing fee you have to pay is dependent on your peculiar situation. You can use this fee calculator to determine how much you must pay. Also, ensure you sign your form; otherwise, it will be rejected.

        Documents Required for Filing Form I-485

        Here are the documents you’ll need to present as an immediate relative:

        • A copy of a government-issued identity document
        • Two passport photographs;
        • A copy of the birth certificate;
        • Affidavit of support (Form I-864);
        • Proof of immigrant category;
        • Inspection and admission documents;

        Here are the documents required from family preference immigrants:

        • A copy of a government-issued identity document
        • Two passport photographs;
        • A copy of the birth certificate;
        • Affidavit of support (Form I-864);
        • Proof of immigrant category;
        • Inspection and admission documents;
        • Proof of maintaining lawful status since arrival into the U.S;
        • Proof of relationship with the petitioner (birth or marriage certificates);
        • Form I-797 (Proof that USCIS approved petitioner’s Form I-130).

        After filing Form I-485, you’ll be notified of a biometrics appointment at an Application Support Center close to you. If USCIS is unsatisfied after reviewing your application, they will ask you to come for an interview with your petitioner.

        If your application is successful, you’ll get an approval notice and the Permanent Resident Card afterwards.

        Don't let distance come between you and your family. Apply for a Family-Based Green Card, contact us today. Contact Us

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          Financial Requirement for Family-Based Green Card

          Your sponsor must meet the income requirement before USCIS will approve your application. Your sponsor needs to prove that their household income is 125% higher than the U.S. poverty line for the particular household size that applies to them.

          However, if your sponsor is in the military, they only need their income to be 100% higher. For more information about this, see the USCIS page on financial requirements.

          How Much Does it Cost to get a Family Based Green Card?

          The cost of a Family Based Green Card application depends on the particular application route.

          • I-130 Petition for Alien Relative form: $535
          • I-485 Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust status form: $1,140
          • DS-261 Application: $325

          Can I enter into employment under a Family Based Green Card?

          Generally speaking, anyone with a Family-Based Green Card, whether as an immediate relative or a preference relative, will be entitled to find employment and work in the USA.

          You can apply for employment authorization by filing Form I-765 (Application for Employment Authorisation).

          How Can IAS Help?

          The application process for getting a U.S. family-based green card is quite tedious and time-consuming. You must ensure you meet every requirement and fill and file every form correctly; otherwise, your application will be delayed or denied.

          It can be demoralizing when this happens because of the time and money already invested and the stress, time and money it would take for an appeal or reapplication. In addition, a visa rejection could also mean you are separated from your loved ones.

          To ensure your application is error-free, do contact us at IAS. Our immigration attorneys are there to guide you through the application process. They can also:

          • Take a look at your case to check if you are eligible for a green card visa;
          • Communicate with your family member abroad and tell them what to do;
          • Keep in touch with USCIS and also track your application.

          For more information about our services and what we could do for you, contact one of our immigration advisers on + 1 844 290 6312 or online today.

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                    Frequently Asked Questions

                    You can work with a K-1 visa in the U.S. However, you must file Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization, before being permitted to work.

                    The green card application can be rejected if supporting documents do not show adequate proof of relationship, insufficient funds on the part of the petitioner, the beneficiary child is married or above 21 years and lack of bona fides of marriage in the case of a spouse. The USCIS always mentions the reason for rejection in the rejection mail.

                    You cannot apply for a green card by yourself alone. Your relative in the U.S. will have to start the process.