If you are a U.S. citizen, you are allowed to bring members of your immediate family to live permanently in the United States. There are a number of steps to this process, but your family members do not have to wait for a visa number.
The following people are considered to be immediate family members:
• Your husband or wife
• Your children, if they are unmarried and under the age of 21
• Your parents (as long as you are over 21)
If your family member is already in the United States
To be eligible for permanent residency, your family member must have entered the United States legally or been paroled into the United States. If your family member’s visa has expired or if he or she entered the country without documents, then you should speak with a lawyer before filing any immigration documents.
There are two main forms required to get a green card for an immediate family member:
• Form I-485 is the application for a green card. The person who is applying for the green card fills this out, often with the help of a lawyer. The I-485 is a lengthy form that requires a number of supporting documents. To complete the entire application, the applicant will need to submit a birth certificate, photographs, a copy of the visa documenting that the person is in the United States legally, and a form from a doctor showing the results of a medical examination.There is also an extra Biographic Information Form that must be included in the application packet.
• Form I-130 is the petition filed by you, the U.S. citizen, asking for your immediate family member to be granted a green card. This form must be submitted together with proof of your U.S. citizenship and proof of the family relationship between you and the person applying for the green card. These extra documents can be challenging to put together, and the immigration service will study them very carefully to make sure that the family relationship is legitimate. If you are petitioning for a green card for your husband or wife, there are many ways you can prove the marriage is real. These include birth certificates for any children you have or proof that you have lived together or shared a bank account. You can even include wedding photos and sworn statements by people who attended your wedding.
These two forms can be submitted at the same time, or the I-130 can be turned in first. Depending on which method you and your lawyer choose, certain requirements and extra forms may be involved.
After receiving the I-485, the immigration service will contact the green card applicant and ask for fingerprints. The fingerprint information must be sent in before the I-485 will be processed. In-person interviews of both the applicant and the U.S. citizen sponsor are also required.
If your family member is not yet in the United States
If your family member is not yet in the United States, the procedure for getting a green card is slightly different. If you are in the United States, you will first have to file Form I-130 with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. If you are not in the United States, you and your family member must file all paperwork with your local consulate.
Come in for a free consultation
Working with the immigration service is never simple, and we’d be happy to help you get green cards for your family members. Fill out the form below or give us a call to learn more.