Need a Green Card for a Family Member? Here’s Where to Start

AdobeStock_483211582-300x200If you have a family member seeking permanent residence in the U.S., you may be able to help them apply for a green card. A green card allows people with a legally recognized relationship to live, work and attend school in the U.S. without needing a work visa or a student visa. 

However, the process does not come easy and can take more or less time depending on your family’s specific situation and ability to meet specific eligibility requirements. Whether you are a U.S. citizen or legal permanent resident looking to petition for a family member, there are options that may be available.

Here are some of the ways you can get started with helping your non-citizen family member to apply for a green card:

1. Familiarize yourself with the eligibility requirements

If you are a U.S. citizen family member, there are specific family relationships that allow you to petition for a non-citizen family member applying for a green card:

Immediate Relatives

Under immigration law, you may be able to sponsor your non-citizen family member if they are your “immediate relative.” 

The following fall under the immediate relative classification: 

  • spouses
  • unmarried child under the age of 21
  • parents of U.S. citizens, if the U.S. citizen is 21 or older

A major benefit of pursuing this pathway is it is faster compared to other family relationship types, as immediate relatives take priority in the green card process. AdobeStock_25508651-300x193

Preference Relatives

If you are a U.S. citizen, you may be able to help a non-citizen family member who falls under the “preference relative” classification. Importantly, the process for preference relatives is lengthier in comparison to immediate relatives discussed above. There is a longer waiting period as visas based on preference relatives are limited and do not take priority. The wait times for preference category visas are published in the Visa Bulletin.  For example, it can take many years for a preference relative applicant to obtain a green card.

Preference relatives of U.S. citizens include: 

  • Unmarried sons and daughters of U.S. citizens
  • Married sons and daughters of U.S. citizens
  • Siblings of U.S. citizens

Additionally, you can help a family member under this preference relative category if you are a lawful permanent resident and your non-citizen family member is your:

  • Spouse
  • Child under the age of 21
  • Unmarried son or daughter who is 21 years or older

Other Categories

In addition to the above, you may be able to obtain a green card for people who fit into the following categories:

  • the fiancé or child of a U.S. citizen
  • a widow(er) of a U.S. citizen (if married at time their spouse passed away)
  • an abused spouse, parent, or child (unmarried and under 21) of a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident

2. Seek Legal Counsel

The process of applying for a green card can be complex and lengthy. The process can be especially overwhelming if you are unfamiliar with the ins and outs of the green card process. For example, there are different approaches you can take to apply based on various factors, such as specific family relationships discussed here.

Fortunately, you and your family do not have to go through the green card process alone! A knowledgeable immigration attorney can help you navigate the process and successfully apply for a green card without unnecessary delay.

For example, if your non-citizen family member is eligible under the category of abused spouses, parents, or children, an immigration attorney can advise your family throughout the immigration process and can properly file the case for you.

Knowledge of Immigration Law:AdobeStock_90603768-300x199

An experienced Immigration Law attorney possessing in-depth knowledge of immigration laws understands the many complexities involved in the green card process, all there is to know regarding eligibility requirements, and how to best advise you based on your family’s specific case. 

For example, under immigration law, certain specific acts and crimes can prevent your family member from receiving a green card and could lead to a finding of inadmissibility or being placed in deportation proceedings. Specifically, crimes of moral turpitude, drug offenses, aggravated felonies, and other criminal offenses can be problematic. An attorney can assess whether these laws apply to your family member and discuss your best legal options. 

Speak with an Immigration Attorney Today!

If you are seeking a green card or helping a family member obtain one, it makes all the difference to have attorneys knowledgeable in immigration law to help you navigate the complex legal process. The dedicated and experienced immigration law attorneys at Shorstein, Lasnetski & Gihon are here to stand by your family’s side through the process. Don’t delay! Contact us today at 904-542-3332 (Jacksonville) 407-228-2019 (Orlando).

Contact Information