Green Card Spouse & Family Members

U.S. Citizen filing for Immediate Relative – Spouse, Parent, or Child (under 21 years)

Under INA 201(b), a U.S. citizen’s spouse, parent or child (under 21) is considered an immediate relative.  In order to promote family unity, immediate relatives have special immigration priority and do not have to wait in line for a visa number to become available to immigrate because there are unlimited visa numbers available for this category.

Certain aliens currently inside the United States are eligible to apply for a green card.  An immediate relative relationship allows one to apply to register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status, to become a permanent resident at, either the same time one’s U.S. citizen petitioner files their Petition for Alien Relative, or after the Petition for Alien Relative is approved or pending.

Immediate relatives currently outside the United States may become permanent residents through consular processing.  Consular Processing means the immigrant visa is processed through the U.S. Department of State, at one of the U.S. consulates around the world.  After the Petition for an Alien Relative is approved, the paperwork is forwarded to the responsible U.S. consulate who will then issue the visa allowing one to travel to the United States.  Upon entry to the United States, at the Port of Entry, the immediate relative will become a permanent resident.

Special rules apply for children turning or about to turn 21 years of age during this process.  It is important that you contact an attorney as soon as possible should you find yourself in this situation, as remedies may be available.

U.S. Citizen or Permanent Resident filing for a Relative in one of Four Preference Categories

A U.S. Citizen may file an immigrant petition for an unmarried adult son or daughter; married son or daughter; or brothers and sisters.

A Permanent Resident may file for a Spouse or Child (under 21 years of age) or unmarried adult son or daughter.

Aliens in these categories are limited by the number of visas available at in certain instances their nationality (as determined by their country of birth).  Due to the limits on visa availability, backlogs have formed in these categories, requiring relatives to wait for a visa number to become available before one can apply for permanent residents.

Special rules apply for children turning or about to turn 21 years of age during this process.  It is important that you contact an attorney as soon as possible should you find yourself in this situation, as remedies may be available.

K-Visa

The K-visa is reserved for fiancés and foreign spouses of U.S. Citizens.  The purpose of the K-visa was to speed up the immigration process for individuals so they may travel to the United States more quickly to be with their fiancé or spouse thereby sparing a long separation.  Once a fiancé or foreign spouse enters the United States on the K-visa, they will then file their adjustment of status to permanent resident while in the United States.

Minor Children of K-1 and K-3 visa holders may enter as K-2 or K-3 dependents and receive permanent residence upon adjustment.

Violence Against Women Act (VAWA)

A battered spouse, child or parent may file an immigrant visa petition under the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), as amended by the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA).

The VAWA provisions in the INA allow certain spouses, children, and parents of U.S. citizens and permanent residents (Green Card holders) to file a petition for themselves, without the abuser’s knowledge. This allows victims to seek both safety and independence from their abuser, who is not notified about the filing.

The VAWA provisions apply equally to women and men.