Family-based Immigration

Services > Permanent Visas (Green Cards) > Family-based Immigration

Persons who have a familial relationship with a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident (LPR) may seek the benefit of becoming an LPR through a petition filed by a family member or, under certain limited circumstances, through self-petitioning.
In most cases, in order to obtain permanent residency through a family relationship there must be a willing U.S. citizen or LPR (“Petitioner”) There are exceptions to this petition requirement, including where the foreign national has been the victim of extreme cruelty or battery by the family member who otherwise would be the petitioner; or, in some limited cases, where the petitioner has died.

Family-based immigration involves a multi-step process, where delays are common, due to the shortage of immigrant visa availability. Therefore, petitioning relatives are encouraged to start the process as soon as possible.

There are limited numbers (“quotas”) of Immigrant Visas (“Green Cards”) available within a fiscal year. Whether a person can apply to become an LPR is controlled by whether he or she can satisfy the quota requirements. The law exempts from the quotas “immediate relatives” defined as the “children (under 21 years old and unmarried), spouses and parents” of U.S. citizens; when a son or daughter petitions for his or her parent, he or she must be at least 21 years of age. Other relationships, which are subject to a quota system, are divided into family-based “preferences.” The family preferences include four categories:

• First Preference: unmarried sons and daughters (over 21 years old) of U.S. citizens;
• Second Preference: spouses and minor unmarried children of LPRs (2A); and unmarried sons and daughters over 21 yars old) of LPRs (2B);
• Third Preference: married sons and daughters of U.S. citizens; and
• Fourth Preference: brothers and sisters of U.S. citizens.

The availability of visas under the quota system is determined by the person’s “priority date.” A priority date is the date on which a person initially submitted documentation establishing eligibility for one of the preference categories under the immigrant visa scheme. In the case of a family-based petition, the priority date would be the date on which the petitioner submitted the petition showing that there existed a qualifying familial relationship with the beneficiary. Therefore, it is very important to file the petition as soon as possible to “lock in” a priority date.

To summarize, if you have a parent, spouse, son, daughter over 21 years old or sibling over 21 years old who is a U.S Citizen or a parent or spouse who is a Lawful permanent resident of the United States you may be eligible to become a lawful permanent resident of the United States. However, please be advised, that this is complex area of law, where there are a lot of exceptions and eligibility requirement that should be assessed before starting a case to avoid pitfalls that could derail your case. Thus, please contact us and schedule a consultation to discuss your particular case with one of our attorneys. During the consultation, the attorney will analyze your case and discuss all the immigration options that you or your relative may have.

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