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Green Card for an immediate relative of a U.S. citizen

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Miami immigration attorney Oleg Otten - green card for an Immediate relative

How to get a Green Card as an Immediate Relative of a US Citizen?

A U.S. citizen can petition for his or her immediate relative to come and live permanently in the United States. Eligible immediate relatives of the U.S. citizen are:

  • Spouse
  • Unmarried child under the age of 21
  • Parent (if the U.S. citizen is over the age of 21)

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 because there are an unlimited number of visas for their particular categories. Practically speaking, most immediate relatives can become permanent residents within 6 to 12 months.

If a U.S. citizen is petitioning for a spouse, and the marriage is less than 2 years old, the spouse and any children will receive two-year green cards. Before expiration of the first green card, they would have to apply for new green cards to remove condition on their residence.

For a child to qualify as an immediate relative, the child must be younger than 21 and unmarried. If the U.S.-citizen-parent petitions for the child before his or her 21-st birthday, the child’s age gets frozen at 20 years even though the child is older than 21 years when he or she actually receives his or her green card. Step-children and adopted children have special rules.

To sponsor an immediate relative parent, the U.S.-citizen-son or daughter must be at least 21 years old.

Get a Green Card while inside the United States

One-step process

An immediate relative relationship allows you to apply on Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status, to become a permanent resident at the same time your U.S. citizen petitioner files Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative.

Two-step process

You still have the option to file your I-485 application any time after your petitioner files a Form I-130 for you, as long as it has not been denied. Generally, you will need to submit a copy of Form I-797, Notice of Action, with your Form I-485, that shows the Form I-130 petition is either pending or approved.

  • Step One – Your U.S. citizen immediate relative must file the Form I-130 for you, and it must be either pending or approved.
  • Step Two – After you receive Form I-797, Notice of Action, showing that the Form I-130 has either been received by us or approved, then you may file Form I-485. When you file your I-485 application package, you must include a copy of the Form I-130 receipt or approval notice (the Form I-797).

Get a Green Card while outside the United States

If you are outside the United States and are an immediate relative of a U.S. citizen, you can become a permanent resident through consular processing. Consular processing is when the USCIS works with the Department of State to issue a visa on an approved Form I-130 petition when a visa is available. You may then travel on the visa and will officially become a permanent resident when admitted at a U.S. port of entry. The Department of State will notify you when you are eligible to apply for an immigrant visa. If you do not apply for an immigrant visa within one year following notification from the Department of State, your petition may be terminated.

Things to keep in mind:Schedule consultation business and immigration attorney

  • Turning 21 years of age. When an immediate relative child of a U.S. citizen reaches the 21 years of age, he or she generally will become a “first preference” (F1) category son or daughter of a U.S. citizen, and will no longer have a visa immediately available. This change may result in a significant delay in adjustment of status or visa processing because he or she will now need to wait for an immigrant visa to become available.
  • Child Status Protection Act. In certain cases, the Child Status Protection Act (CSPA) may allow you to retain the classification of “child” even if you have reached age 21. Generally, your age is “frozen” as of the date your U.S. citizen parent files Form I-130 for you.
  • Getting Married. 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 married son or daughter of a U.S. citizen and a visa would no longer be immediately available. You must notify us of any change in your marital status after Form I-130 has been filed for you and prior to becoming a permanent resident or obtaining an immigrant visa.

Miami immigration attorney Oleg Otten


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