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Family-Based Immigration

Washington, D.C., Maryland & Virginia Immigration Lawyers

U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents can sponsor (or "petition") certain family members for immigration visas or "green cards." The green cards can be obtained for family members who live abroad, or in some instances, for family members who are already in the U.S. The process is different depending on where the family member is living.

There are two categories for family-based immigration: “immediate relatives” and relatives who fall under the “family preference system.”

Immediate Relatives

A U.S. citizen can petition for the following family members:

  • Spouse
  • Parent (if the applicant is aged 21 or older)
  • Unmarried children of the U.S. citizens (if they are 21 years of age or younger)

U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents can sponsor (or "petition") certain family members for immigration visas or "green cards." The green cards can be obtained for family members who live abroad, or in some instances, for family members who are already in the U.S. The process is different depending on where the family member is living.

There are two categories for family-based immigration: “immediate relatives” and relatives who fall under the “family preference system.”

Family Preference System

With the exception of “immediate relatives” category, the U.S. government has placed a limit on the number of visas or “green cards” allowed in this category every year. Depending on the country of origin and the relationship with the U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident, a family member may have to wait several years or longer before they can immigrate to the U.S.

The family preference system category is divided into four different groups:

  • Unmarried Sons and Daughters of U.S. Citizens
    • This includes unmarried sons and daughters of U.S. citizens who are older than 21.
    • Minor children of sons and daughters may also be included on the application.
  • Spouses, children, and unmarried sons and daughters of Legal Permanent Residents.
    • Spouse
    • Children under 21
    • Unmarried Sons and Daughters (i.e., children over 21)
  • Married Sons and Daughters of U.S. Citizens
    • Spouses and minor children of married sons and daughters may also be included in the application.
  • Brothers and Sisters of U.S. Citizens
    • U.S. citizen has to be over 21
    • Spouses and minor children of beneficiaries in this category may also be included in the application.

Unfortunately, Grandparents, aunts, uncles, in-laws, and cousins cannot sponsor a relative for immigration.

Our attorneys can help you navigate through the complexities of understanding the different categories, determine if you family member meets the requirements; and guide you through the process of applying for a green card for a family member. Contact a member of our team to schedule your free consultation.

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