Family Residency Petitions
Many people receive a Green Card through family members. You may be eligible to receive a Green Card if you are an immediate relative of a U.S. Citizen, this includes a spouse, unmarried children under the age of 21, and parents of U.S. Citizen petitioners 21 years or older.
For a family petition you can apply while you are in the United States or outside of the United States. Immediate relatives have special immigration priority, and do not have to wait in line for a visa number to become available for them to immigrate, as there are an unlimited number of visas for their particular categories.
Commonly Asked Questions
If you are in the United States, you may be eligible to apply for a Green Card by having your immediate relative file an application on your behalf. If however you are outside of the United States and are an immediate relative of a U.S. Citizen, you can become a resident through consular processing. Consular processing happens when USCIS works with the State Department and the U.S. Embassy in the allocated country of application to issue a visa. You will become a permanent resident when admitted at a U.S. port of entry.
Certain immigrants who because of their close relationship to U.S. citizens are exempt from the numerical limitations imposed on immigration to the United States. Immediate relatives are: spouses of citizens, children (under 21 years of age and unmarried) of citizens, and parents of citizens 21 years of age or older.
As a legal permanent resident you may file for your spouse, child (if unmarried and under 21 years of age) and any unmarried son or daughter over 21 years of age.
When an immediate relative child of a U.S. Citizen reaches 21 years of age, he or she will no longer be eligible for immediate priority to a visa, and may have a significant wait/delay in processing before being eligible.
If an immediate relative child under age 21 gets married, he or she can no longer be classified as an “immediate relative” and will become a “third preference” (F3) category and a visa would no longer be immediately available.
If the permanent resident relative that petitioned for you to become a U.S. Citizen, your preference category would change and a visa may be available sooner.