Family Immigration FAQs

Which family members can a U.S. citizen file a green card petition for?

U.S. Citizens can file Immigrant Petitions for the following family members:

  1. Spouses
  2. Fiancés
  3. Parents (if the U.S. Citizen is over 21 years old)
  4. Minor Children (unmarried and under 21 years old)
  5. Siblings
  6. Unmarried Adult Sons or Daughters over 21 years old
  7. Married Adult Sons or Daughters over 21 years old

U.S. Citizens are generally able to obtain Permanent Residence much sooner for their spouses and minor children, than can Permanent Residents, as the USCIS considers these family members of U.S. Citizens “Immediate Relatives”, exempting them from visa availability backlogs that can take years to clear.

Which family members can a U.S. Permanent Resident file a green card petition for?

Permanent Residents can file Immigrant Petitions for the following family members:

  1. Spouses
  2. Minor Children (unmarried and under 21 years old)
  3. Unmarried Adult Sons and Daughters over 21 years old

If I become a U.S. Citizen, can I upgrade my petition that I filed why I had a Green Card?

Frequently, a “Visa Upgrade” strategy can be beneficial whereby a U.S. Permanent Resident petitions for a family member and the U.S. Permanent Resident later Naturalizes and becomes a U.S. Citizen. In such cases, the individual can keep the original filing priority date they received when they filed the petition, but can enjoy what is frequently (though not always) quicker visa availability times. Be sure to speak with your immigration lawyer about this strategy, as depending what country they are from, sometimes family members of U.S. Citizens must wait even longer than those of Permanent Residents.

Your immigration attorney will go over the current Department of State Visa Bulletin with you and advise the most appropriate and expeditious strategy for bringing your family members to the U.S., or adjusting status (this should link to “Adjustment of Status” page) to permanent residence in the event they are already in the country. Any person who is not a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident (“green card” holder) requires employment authorization from the U.S. government to accept any work in the United States. Temporary visas and permanent green cards can be petitioned by employers, and sometimes, by a foreign national themselves on their own behalf.

Can family members of people with 245i get their green cards in the U.S.?

Certain family members of people who were the named beneficiary of 245i protected Immigrant Petitions and Labor Certification Applications rule also can get their green cards in the U.S. under this exception. These can include certain spouses and minor children, including those who were either a spouse or minor child (under 21 and unmarried) at the time the person either 1) had the Immigrant Petition or Labor Certification Application filed for them; or 2) applied for their own green cards.

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