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Are You Eligible for a Family-Based Green Card?

On behalf of Sayer Regan & Thayer of Sayer Regan & Thayer, LLP posted on THursday, September 22, 2022.

If you meet certain requirements, you may be able to obtain a family-based green card. A green card, also known as a Permanent Resident Card, is used to prove your permanent resident status in the United States. It can be used as a valid form of ID that proves you are allowed work and live in this country.

Some types of green cards have no expiration date, but most are only valid for 10 years. For conditional permanent resident status, validity is only two years. Always keep the expiration date in mind to avoid problems later. If you don’t have a valid green card, you won’t be able to readily prove that you are indeed a permanent resident, which may hamper your ability to work or travel in the U.S.

There are many ways to become eligible for a green card, such as employment, refugee or victim of abuse. But one of the most common reasons for green card eligibility is family. If you have questions about eligibility, contact a trusted immigration lawyer who can determine this and guide you through the process.

Eligibility for Green Card: Family

You may be eligible to apply for a green card for family reasons if:

• You’re an immediate relative of a U.S. citizen
• You’re another relative of a U.S. citizen or a relative of a lawful permanent resident
• You are either the fiancée/fiancé of a U.S. citizen or you are the child of the fiancée/fiancé
• You are the widow or widower of a U.S. citizen
• You’re a VAWA self-petitioner (victim of battery or extreme cruelty)

Now let’s go more in-depth on each of these.

Immediate Relative of a U.S. Citizen

You are an immediate relative of a U.S. citizen if you are the:

• Spouse of a U.S. citizen
• Un-married child (under 21) of a U.S. citizen
• Parent of a U.S. citizen who’s at least 21

This page outlines everything you need to know about applying as a family member, what documents to submit, etc.

Another Relative of a U.S. Citizen or a Relative of a Lawful Permanent Resident

To qualify, you have to be a:

Family member of a U.S. citizen, such as:
• Un-married son or daughter of a U.S. citizen over the age of 21
• Married son or daughter of a U.S. citizen
• Brother or sister of a U.S. citizen over the age of 21

Family member of a lawful permanent resident, such as:
• Un-married son or daughter of a U.S. citizen over the age of 21
• Married son or daughter of a U.S. citizen
• Brother or sister of a U.S. citizen over the age of 21

There are many tiers of family preferences, outlined here.

Fiancée/Fiancé of a U.S. Citizen or Child of the Fiancée/Fiancé

To qualify, you must be:

• Admitted to the U.S. as a fiancé/fiancée of a U.S. citizen (K-1 non-immigrant)
• Admitted to the U.S. as the child of a fiancé/fiancée of a U.S. citizen (K-2 non-immigrant)

The alien in question has to enter into marriage with the U.S. citizen within 90 days after admittance as a K-1 nonimmigrant. After admittance to the United States as a K-1 nonimmigrant and after getting married to the U.S. citizen within the 90-day period, the alien spouse may apply for a green card (AKA lawful permanent resident status).

Widow or Widower of a U.S. Citizen

You can qualify if you are a widow or widower of a U.S. citizen, to whom you were married at the time they died. Other eligibility criteria include:

• Must either have a pending or approved Form I-130 or have filed it
• Have I-360 within two years of the spouse’s death
• You are not remarried
• You were not divorced or legally separated from your spouse at the time of death
• You can prove that you were engaged in a marital relationship until the spouse’s death
• You are admissible to the United States

Widows and widowers of military members may qualify for separate immigration benefits.

VAWA Self Petitioner

You may qualify for a green card if:

• You’re an abused spouse of a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident
• You’re an abused child (not married, under 21) of a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident
• You’re an abused parent of a U.S. citizen

You can file a petition without the abusive family member’s consent or knowledge.

Contact Sayer Regan & Thayer for Immigration Law in Rhode Island

Keeping the paperwork and deadlines straight for family green cards can be daunting and overwhelming. Let us help. Please contact us for your free, no-obligation consultation from attorneys with many years of experience in immigration law.

These materials have been prepared by SRT for informational purposes only and are not intended and should not be construed as legal advice.

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