Family Based Visa Petitions – Who You Can File On Behalf Of?


Who qualifies to obtain a Green card or residency through family?

One of the most common ways in which immigrants become US residents or Green card holders, is through a Marriage / Family Immigration Petition.

However, there are some notable differences as to who qualifies as an eligible relative of a U.S. citizen vs. an eligible relative of a U.S. legal permanent resident.

US citizens may file family based residency petitions on behalf of spouses, parents, children (including step children), and siblings.

On the other hand, US Legal Permanent Residents may file Green Card petitions on behalf of spouses and unmarried children only, including step children.

Both US citizens and residents petitioning for family members must show evidence that they earn enough income to support the sponsored relative.

Petition process and wait time periods

After a family based immigration petition (I-130) is approved, there is usually a period of wait time before a visa becomes available, unless the petition qualifies as an “immediate relative” petition. This wait period is generally different for each type of relative or family relationship.

The reason being that there is a limited number of green cards that can be given out each year for each type of relative and the excess applicants have to wait in line for their turn in a future year.

For example, there are more green cards available for married adult children of US citizens, than there are for brothers and sisters of US citizens, therefore, the wait time for siblings is much greater.

Also, the wait period for family members of citizens is generally shorter than that of family members of residents.

Another factor that affects the wait time is the number of relatives that apply in each family category each year which will inevitably vary, so it is very difficult to know exactly how long the wait time will be.

Following closely the status of your Petition

The best way to estimate this time, is by checking the monthly visa bulletin that is published by the Department of State, which will tell you the month and year of the applications that they are currently working on, also known as the priority date of your application.

Finally, an important qualification to keep in mind, is that for a stepchild to qualify as a child under the immigration law, the marriage that created the step-parent/child relationship must have occurred before the child was 18 years of age.

If you want our experienced family immigration lawyers in Boston to help you prepare your family residency petition and you are in the Massachusetts or New England area, please contact our office to request an appointment at: 617-303-2600.

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