Family-based Greencard

In this category, a foreign person may be eligible to apply for a U.S. Green Card base if he/she is:

  • Immediate relative of a U.S. citizen: (USCIS Link) This includes spouses, unmarried children under the age of 21, and parents. The U.S. citizen petitioner must be 21 or older in order to file a petition for the immediate relative. Immigrant visas for “immediate relatives” of U.S. citizens are 1st Family preference, and are unlimited, so they are always available. The priority date immediately becomes current at filing and there is no waiting time. Immediate relatives” of U.S. citizens are also eligible for Adjustment of status and apply for a green card while physically present in the U.S. without returning to their home country.
  • Family member of a green card holder: This includes spouse, unmarried children under 21, and unmarried son and daughter 21 or older.
  • Family member of a U.S. citizen: This includes unmarried sons or daughters over the age of 21, married children of any age, and brothers and sisters. The U.S. citizen petitioner must be 21 or older in order to file a petition for the family member. Immigrant visa for “family member of a U.S. citizen” are in a preference category, and are numerically limited, so they are not always immediately available.
  • Member of a special category: (USCIS Link)including battered spouse or child (VAWA), a K nonimmigrant (Fiance - Visa), a person born to a foreign diplomat in the United States, a V nonimmigrant or a widow(er) of a U.S. Citizen

Preference Categories:

When filing a petition for your relative, the following preference categories will apply:

  • Immediate family of a U.S. citizen: No preference applied
  • First preference (F-1): Unmarried, sons and daughters (21 or older) of U.S. citizens
  • Second Preference (F-2A): Spouse, unmarried children (under 21) of permanent residents
  • Second Preference (F-2B): Unmarried sons and daughters (21 or older) of permanent residents
  • Third Preference (F-3): Married sons and daughters (any age) of U.S. citizens
  • Fourth Preference (F-4): Brothers and sisters of adult U.S. citizens

A visa becomes available to a preference category according to the priority date (the date the I-130 was properly filed).

“Estimated” Processing time:

  • Immediate relative of U.S. Citizen: no priority date: Processing time varies. For petitions for applicants outside the U.S. ( Consular processing), the processing time is 9- 12 months. For petitions for applicant present in the U.S. ( Adjustment of Status), the processing time is averagely 6 months.
  • First preference (F-1): 7 years
  • Second Preference (F-2A): 20-24 months
  • Second Preference (F-2B): 6.5 years
  • Third Preference (F-3): 10.5- 11 years
  • Fourth Preference (F-4): 12.5- 13 years<

The processing times above are estimated base on the NVC Bulletin November 2016. For an accurate processing time, please check on USCIS and NVC websites.

Employment-based Greencard

The main ways to immigrate to the U.S. based on a job offer or employment are listed below:

  • Green Card Through a Job Offer: (USCIS Link) You may be eligible to become a permanent resident based on an offer of permanent employment in the United States.
  • Green Card Through Investment: (USCIS Link) investors/entrepreneurs who are making an investment in an enterprise that creates new U.S. jobs may apply for a Green card.
  • Green Card Through Self Petition: (USCIS Link) some immigrant categories allow you to file for yourself. This option is available for either a) “Aliens of Extraordinary Ability” or b) certain individuals granted a National Interest Waiver.
  • Green Card Through Special Categories of Jobs: (USCIS Link) you may be eligible to apply for a Green card based on your past or current jobs which fall into specialized categories.

Other Ways to Get a Greencard

Although most people immigrate to the United States through a family member’s sponsorship, employment, or a job offer, there are other ways you can apply for a Green Card such as the: