Family Immigration
Who Qualifies for Family-Based Immigration?

Who Qualifies for Family-Based Immigration?

Who Qualifies for Family-Based Immigration?

U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents (Green Card holders) are allowed to sponsor their relatives for their own green cards. Sponsoring means the U.S. citizen or Green Card holders must first file a petition with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to have their relative be considered for a green card. The process of obtaining a family-based green card is, however, long and often frustrating. 

Vestal Immigration Law has an experienced family immigration attorney who helps clients in North Carolina with their family immigration needs.

Eligibility for Family-Based Immigration

Obtaining a green card based on a family relationship with a U.S. citizen or Green Card holder depends on the type of relationship. Immigration law divides family immigration into two broad categories: immediate relatives and preference.

  • Immediate Relatives. Immediate relatives are close relatives of U.S. citizens and Green Card holders. Specifically, immediate relatives are the spouses, children, and parents of U.S. citizens. However, the children must be under the age of 21, and to sponsor a parent, the U.S. citizen must be over the age of 21. Spouses also include same-sex couples if the marriage is recognized in the state it was entered. One of the greatest benefits of being sponsored as an immediate relative is there is no waiting time beyond normal processing time. This is the fastest category of all immigration categories one can obtain a green card.
  •  Preference Family Category. The preference category is where everyone is classified if they are not immediate relatives. However, not all relatives are classifiable as preference members. Rather, only the following relatives qualify to get a green card under this preference category:
    • First preference – unmarried children of U.S. citizens over the age of 21 
    • Second Preference Group 1 – spouses and unmarried children of Green Card holders who are under 21 years of age.
    • Second Preference Group 2 – unmarried children of Green Card holders who are over the age of 21.
    • Third preference – married children of U.S. citizens; and
    • Fourth preference – siblings of U.S. citizens if the U.S. citizen sponsoring them is over the age of 21.

Family-Based Immigration Process

The family-based immigration process starts with the U.S. citizen or Green Card holder filing a petition with (USCIS). The petition provides information about the U.S. citizen and the type of family relationship. The petition must be accompanied by evidence that the family relationship exists and is genuine. Many petitions are denied on the grounds the family relationship is not genuine but an attempt to circumvent U.S. immigration law. 

If the petition filed is for an immediate relative, then the noncitizen relative can have their green card application filed concurrently with the petition. If the petition is not for an immediate family member, then the noncitizen relative can only file their green card application after the petition is approved.

For concurrent filings where the petition and green card application meet the criteria and are filed at the same time, and the relative is in the U.S., the relative can also apply for a work permit to work while waiting for the processing of their green card.

Consult with Our North Carolina Family Immigration Attorney Today

If you are in North Carolina and wish to sponsor a family member, contact Vestal Immigration Law today to learn more about family immigration and how we can help you.

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