Family Based Green Card – Information and Requirements

Many people from various countries want to immigrate in the U.S with a Green Card. That is why the U.S has come up with different types of Green Cards of U.S immigrant visas that people can apply for. The major categories are as follows:

  • Family-Based Green Cards for people who want to join their families in the U.S
  • Employment-Based Green Cards for people who want to work in the U.S for a U.S employer
  • Diversity Visa for people with a low rate of immigration to the U.S
  • Returning Resident Visa for people who for reasons beyond their control could not return to renew their immigrant residence status

This article will talk about the Family Based Green cards, what they are, the types, requirements, ways to apply, and other relevant details.

What is a Family-Based Green Card?

A Family Sponsored Green Card is an immigrant U.S visa that permits the applicant to join their close relatives in the U.S. Close relatives can be your spouse, children, parents, or siblings but more distant relatives such as grandparents and cousins do not qualify.

You can move permanently to the U.S if you get a Green Card through the family. You have the freedom to live in any state you want to, go to school, and work for a U.S employer. You will be able to get a U.S driver’s license, travel in and out of the U.S for particular periods of time, and if you do not violate the rules of your visa, for a while then you can apply for a U.S citizenship.

There can be yearly limits on the number of visas issued, depending on the type of Family-Based Green Cards. The U.S visa will be processed in chronological order if you have applied before the limit for that year. Otherwise, you must wait until the next year or until your turn comes.

What Are the Types of Family-Based Green Cards?

There are diverse types of family Green Cards, and they are different based on the status of the person who is your family and lives in the U.S. For those whose family in the U.S is a U.S citizen, the following types of visas are applicable.

These U.S visas are called the Immediate Relative visas and they do not have an annual cap. It means that anyone who applies will be processed regardless of the number of people before them if they meet the requirements.

There must be Lawful Permanent Residents (LPRs) or more distant relatives if the family you have in the U.S are not U.S citizens. For this category of applicants, these are the following Family Based Visas they can apply for:
  • F-1 visa is given to unmarried sons and daughters of U.S citizens and their minor children
  • F-2 visa is given to the spouse and minor children (F-2A visa), or adult children (F-2B visa) of U.S Lawful Permanent Residents
  • F-3 visa is given to married children of U.S citizens who will go to the U.S with their spouses and minor children
  • F-4 visa is given to siblings of U.S citizens who will go to the U.S with their spouses and minor children. For this visa to apply, the U.S citizen must be at least 21 years old.

They have annual limits on the number that can be issued, and these U.S visas are called Family Preference visas. The F-1 visa has an annual cap of 23,400 visas, the F-2 visa has 114,200 visas, the F-3 visa has 23,400 visas and the F-4 has 65,000 visas available each year. Once these limits are reached, then the rest of the applicants will be processed in the years ahead.

What Are the Requirements for the Family Based Green Cards?

The requirements may vary if the Family-Based Green Cards are different and it will apply to various people. The status must be verified and the person who is in the U.S must have a valid U.S address, this is the main requirement for all of them. It means that they must have valid documents that will prove that they are either U.S citizens or Lawful Permanent Residents.

Furthermore, the applicants must prove that they have family relations with the person in the U.S and must have no criminal records. They must present a valid marriage if the person in the U.S is the spouse. You must present a valid birth certificate if the relation is between children and parents, or for siblings.

How to Apply for Family-Based Green Cards?

The application procedure can also be different because there are so many different Green Cards for families. However, a general overview of the procedure can be found below.

Most Family-Based Green Card applications are divided into two parts:

  • The U.S citizen/LPR petitions for their family to U.S Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)
  • When the petition is approved, the family member from the foreign country must apply to a U.S Embassy or Consulate in their home country

This shows that the application procedure must start within the U.S, with the U.S citizen/LPR petitioning to the authorities. The applicant cannot begin applying to the U.S embassy for their visa if the petition is not approved.

Filing the Petition

The petition can be done by filing Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relatives. This will be submitted to USCIS after the petition has been filled by the U.S citizen/LPR in all the necessary sections. There is also a fee that must be paid for the petition to be processed.

Then, the petition will go through the Department of Homeland Security and processed within a few months. When the processing is complete the petitioner will be informed about the status. USCIS will notify you what is the reasons for the denial if the petition has been denied. As soon as the petition is approved, it will then go to the National Visa Center (NVC). Then, NVC will then be your main contact for the Family-Based Green Card.

The NVC will send a package with information and instructions to the applicant in the foreign country. Also, the package will include the case number and invoice ID number which will be used to start the application from the U.S or Consulate in the foreign country.

Applying for Family Preference visas

There is no cap so there is no waiting time for the applicant to start their process in the U.S Embassy or Consulate in their home country, for the Immediate Relative U.S visas. However, the person must wait until their priority date is current for them to begin their application, for Family Preference visas. The application has these steps.

File Form DS-260

Form DS-260, Immigrant Visa Electronic Application is the form that all applicants for immigrant visas must submit. By using the NVC case number which links it to your case and the approved petition, then the application can be accessed. The applicant or someone helping them must fill out all the necessary sections, which will have questions related to the applicant’s information, background, and purpose of immigrating to the U.S. You will get a confirmation page and number which you must attach to your supporting documents when you submit the DS-260 form.

Complete Medical Examination and Vaccination

The citizens and immigrants must fulfill the U.S certain requirements for medical and vaccination requirements. The immigrants must get the necessary medical check-ups and vaccines if they want to immigrate to the U.S.The NVC package which the applicant received after the approval of the petition will specify what medical procedures the applicant must complete and the vaccines they need to get. All the documents and the check-ups must be completed by a licensed doctor who will sign them. It will be attached to the supporting file which you will then send to the NVC.

Compile Documents File

Aside from the application form, you must also attach various supporting documents to give NVC a better reason as to why you should be allowed to immigrate to the U.S. The supporting documents must be sent to the NVC and the file must contain the following, but the NVC can require additional documents:

  • Your valid passport for more than 6 months after your planned entry into the U.S
  • A signed Form I-864, Affidavit of Support from the U.S petitioner
  • Form DS-260 confirmation page
  • Medical examination and vaccination documents
  • Two photographs per individual according to the Photo Requirements
  • Court and criminal records and / or police certificate
  • If you served in the military, you must bring your military records
Attend Interview

Every immigrant applicant for the U.S visas must attend an interview at the U.S Embassy or Consulate where they are applying. The NVC will schedule the interview as soon as they make sure that you have submitted all the necessary documents. You must attend the interview at the scheduled date and time and answer any questions that the interviewer has.

Receive NVC Packet and Travel to the U.S.

The person can travel to the U.S freely if the Family-Based Green Card is approved. The U.S visa will be stamped on their passport and the Embassy will give them a package which they must bring to the U.S when they first enter the country. This package must not be opened under any circumstances. Only the U.S immigrant officials at any U.S point of entry are allowed to open it and decide whether the applicant is allowed to enter the country or not.

What Are the Fees to Pay for the Family Based Green Cards?

The applicant must pay throughout the application process for the Family Based Green Cards and there are different fees for the petitioner. The amounts may vary and are set by USCIS, the Department of Homeland Security and the individual U.S Embassy or Consulate where you are applying. The main categories of fees that must be paid are as follows:

  • Form I-130 filing fee
  • Processing fee for the Form DS-260
  • Medical examination and vaccination fees
  • Fees to get and translate all the supporting documents
  • USCIS Immigrant Fee which you must pay after you receive your visa and before you travel to the U.S. USCIS will not issue you a Green Card without you paying this fee.

How to Get a Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR) Status?

The next step after you have gotten your Family-Based Green Card visa is to become a Lawful Permanent Resident of the U.S., which is usually known as getting the Green Card. To change your status from your immigrant visa to LPR, you must first have an approved petition from USCIS and the visa, as well as living in the U.S.

Afterward, you must file Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status to USCIS. This form will be processed and if approved you will get your Green Card in the mail after a few weeks.