Going through the family based green card process is a bit different than the traditional, individual process. Some of the steps are roughly the same, but the paperwork and documentation required can vary widely.

To help you gain a high-level understanding of what to expect during the family based green card process, we’ve broken it down into an easy, five-step overview.

5 Steps of the Family Based Green Card Process

Step 1: Your U.S. Relative Files the Petition
Before the family based green card process can begin, the U.S. citizen who is sponsoring you (your relative), must file a Form I-130 Petition for Alien Relative with the U.S. Customs and Immigration Services office (USCIS). Along with your paperwork, you will need to submit a minimum of the following:
• Petitioners proof of citizenship: U.S. passport, birth certificate, U.S. naturalization forms, etc.
• Proof of familial relationship: birth certificates, marriage certificates, DNA results, and so forth
• USCIS filing fee
• Color photographs in the approved size and format
• Additional documents as required, and depending upon circumstance

If the relative applying for a green card is already in the U.S. legally, you can file for an adjustment of status while the I-130 process is in progress.

Step 2: Receive Petition Approval from the USCIS
Upon approval, you’ll receive an I-787C Receipt Notice of Action. This form contains a tracking number so you can follow the progress of your petition online.

Alternately, you might receive a mailed request for further evidence (RFE Notice). It should contain any instructions you’ll need to provide the right information to the right parties.

The approval process can be quite lengthy, ranging from as few as three months to several years. Each case in unique, and it’s impossible to predict how quickly USCIS will move.

Step 3: Get Your Immigrant Visa Number from the State Department
Upon approval, you’ll need to make an appointment with the nearest U.S. Consulate. The interview will determine whether you’re ultimately approved for an immigrant visa number. Because there are a limited number of visas available, a long time can pass between your interview and when you finally receive your visa number. You can check the status at any time by calling the U.S. Department of State, or visit them on the web.

Step 4: Apply for an Immigrant Visa in Your Home Country
Once you have your number, you must go to the nearest U.S. Consulate in your area. You’ll go through another interview where you’ll need to answer a lot of personal questions and review the information and documentation you’ve provided in conjunction with your application. Based on the outcome of that interview, your visa will be stamped, and you can prepare for your move!

Step 5: Getting a Social Security Number
Once you arrive in the U.S., you will need to apply for a social security card to be able to obtain work, open a bank account and more. It should be your first order of business after touching down, to ensure you have as many options as possible upon arrival.

Need Help with the Family Based Green Card Process?

Contact our experienced legal team at Lee and Peynado Law Firm now for more information about the family based green card process.