Can I help my family members apply for a green card?
Sometimes. United States Citizens can file requests for their:
- Husband or wife
- Unmarried child under 21 years of age
- Unmarried son or daughter over 21
- Married son or daughter of any age
- Brother or sister, if you are at least 21 years old, or
- Parent, if you are at least 21 years old.
Lawful Permanent Residents can file requests for their:
- Husband or wife, or
- Unmarried son or daughter of any age.
Will applications for some family members take longer than others?
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Yes. The United States government has preferences for each kind of family member, which means some family members will have to wait for a visa number to get their green card. There is no limit to the amount of spouses and unmarried children under 21 of U.S. Citizens who can get their green card, so their application will be processed the fastest. The preferences for other relatives are:
- First preference: Unmarried, adult sons and daughters of U.S. citizens. Adult means 21 years of age or older.
- Second Preference: Spouses of lawful permanent residents, their unmarried children (under twenty-one), and the unmarried sons and daughters of lawful permanent residents.
- Third Preference: Married sons and daughters of U.S. Citizens.
- Fourth Preference: Brothers and sisters of adult U.S. Citizens.
If I am married to a U.S. citizen, can I obtain a Green card?
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If you and your spouse live in the U.S., your U.S. citizen spouse must first send a relative petition and green card application to the USCIS Chicago LockBox that controls your area. The papers you file can include applications for employment authorization and a travel permit. The USCIS gives the employment authorization and temporary travel permit early in the process. You and your spouse will be scheduled for an interview.
The USCIS will look at identification, wedding photographs, and documents, such as tax returns and insurance documents, and interview the couple to find out if your marriage is real. If they don’t think it is real, they may have separate interviews for you and your spouse and look at your house and where you work. You also need an “affidavit of support”, a written testimony, you’re your U.S. Citizen spouse.
If you live outside of the U.S., the U.S. citizen spouse sends the relative petition to the USCIS office that controls the area in the U.S. where they live. After the USCIS approves it, the case will move to the National Visa Center (NVC) and, then, to the U.S. Consulate where the foreign national spouse lives. The consulate will need proof of that the marriage is real, the affidavit of support, and also background information and documentation on the foreign national spouse.
If the U.S. citizen lives outside of the US, the U.S. consulate generally processes the immigration paperwork. At some locations, you can file all the paperwork when you are at the consulate. In other cases you must first send a form to the USCIS. After that form is approved, the rest of the process, including the interview, happens at the consulate. The process is similar but the waiting time may be less. You also need an affidavit of support. There can be problems when the U.S. spouse has been living outside the U.S.
What do I do about a Conditional Green Card from Marriage?
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A conditional green card, that expires after 2 years, is given if your marriage is less than 2 years old when you get permanent residency. The couple has to send a joint petition to remove the two-year “condition” within the 90-days before the visa runs out. If the marriage has ended due to death or divorce, or if your spouse (the U.S. citizen) abuses you, you can apply to the USCIS for a waiver so you can apply to remove the condition alone.
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