Green Card for a Family Member of Lawful Permanent Resident 

In general, a lawful permanent resident (Green Card holder) may petition the following family members to immigrate to the United States:

  • Spouse;
  • Unmarried children of any age.

There is, however, a limit of available immigrant visas each year allocated to family members of a permanent resident, which means that there will be a waiting period.

The application process can start either inside or outside the United States. During the petition process, the Permanent Resident is called a petitioner, and the family member is called a beneficiary.

Inside the United States:

If the beneficiary is inside the United States, the petitioner has to file a Petition for Alien Relative, and the petition must be approved. The beneficiary must wait for the priority date in the corresponding immigrant visa category to become current. The priority date will be noted on the Notice of Approval and is generally the date when the Petition for Alien Relative was properly filed.

Once the priority date in the corresponding visa category is current, the beneficiary may file an Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status.

The beneficiary will then receive a notice of biometrics appointment, where he or she will have to go to a designated USCIS center for finger printing and photographing.

If an application for work permit and an application for traveling documents (or advanced parole) has been requested along with the application to register permanent residence, the beneficiary should receive these temporary permits within 90 days.

After all of the above steps are completed, the beneficiary will then receive a notice of in person interview. Both the petitioner and the beneficiary will have to attend the interview.

Outside the United States:

If the beneficiary is outside the United States, the process will have to be done through a Consulate of the Untied States. The process is called the consular processing, in this case, the Department of State will issue a visa (when it becomes available to the corresponding preference category) to a pre-approved beneficiary. Beneficiaries are pre-approved when the petitioner’s Petition for Alien Relative is approved by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services. The beneficiary will then travel to the United States with the visa, and will officially become a permanent resident when admitted through any port of entry.

The Department of State will send notification to the beneficiary when a visa becomes available. The petition will be terminated if the beneficiary does not apply for an immigrant visa within one year of the notification.

Please note that:

  • Unfortunately, lawful permanent residents cannot petition for their married children of any age. They must become U.S. Citizens before they can file petitions on behalf of these children.
  • If the unmarried child of a permanent resident turns 21 while the application process is pending, the child may lose his/her preference category (F2A) and become member of a different category (F2B). This change of category may cause significant delay. This delay can only be avoided if the permanent resident becomes a U.S. Citizen before his/her child turns 21 years of age. The age of the unmarried child will then freeze on the date the petitioner becomes a US Citizen.
    • Child Status Protection Act also allows the time a visa petition was pending to be subtracted from the unmarried child’s biological age at the time of visa availability to compensate for the time in which USCIS did not adjust the petition.
  • If the unmarried child of a permanent resident gets married prior to becoming a permanent resident, the child will no longer qualify for permanent residence through his/her permanent resident parent. There is no visa available for married children of permanent residents and the permanent residents must become a U.S. Citizen before they can petition for their married children.
  • If the petitioner becomes a U.S. Citizen during the application process, the preference category of the beneficiaries will change and a visa may become available sooner for these beneficiaries.

To schedule your immigration consultation, please contact Kristy Qiu, Esq., a knowledgeable Fort Lauderdale Immigration Attorney who will answer all your immigration questions.

    Contact Us

    Schedule a free Consultation

    [xyz-ihs snippet=”helping”]