A family petition green card allows family members of individuals living legally in the United States to obtain a green card. A green card, also known as “Lawful Permanent U.S. Residency” gives the holder permission to reside in the United States and seek employment. In the majority of cases, spouses, dependent children, and parents of citizens or permanent residents are granted green cards. As long as a green card is successfully held for at least five years without violations, these family members can eventually become U.S. citizens.

How Does a Family Petition Green Card Work?

Green card holders are also known as “permanent residents.” These are people who have been granted permission by the U.S. Customs and Immigration Services (USCIS) to reside in the country and seek employment. Even with these benefits, permanent residents are not permitted to vote, seek government employment, or be elected in federal or state elections. However, male permanent residents must still register for the Selective Service and all permanent residents are required by law to file income taxes. The green identification card must also be carried at all times, or else steep penalties such as fines or jail time can be levied by the government.

After a permanent resident has resided in the United States for at least five years, they can apply to become a naturalized U.S. citizen. Becoming a citizen not only conveys voting rights and other benefits not granted to permanent residents, but it also allows them to bypass the years-long green card application process to bring children and other family members in from overseas.

How Do You Apply for a Family Petition Green Card?

If your family member is a U.S. citizen, they typically have an expanded ability to bring over family members, unlike green card holders. Green card holders are limited to “Preference Relatives,” such as dependent children. However, the process of obtaining their green cards may take months or years. In contrast, U.S. citizens can not only bring more distant relatives (parents, siblings, etc.), they can also obtain their green cards much faster than relatives of a green card holder.

The process by which family members can apply for a family petition green card is as follows:

• Form I-140 or I-130, the Immigrant Petition: The USCIS must first approve an application by the applicant or their relative. In the case of siblings, they must share the same parents.
• Immigrant Visa Availability: Unless the applicant is an immediate relative, the applicant must wait for a visa number from the National Visa Center of the U.S. State Department. This process may take months or years if a visa number is not available due to immigration quotas.
• Immigrant visa adjudication: Once a visa number becomes available, the immigrant must apply with either USCIS to have their status adjusted to permanent resident or with the U.S. consulate in their country for an immigrant visa. Regardless of which application is submitted, it must be done prior to the applicant moving to the United States.

Challenges of the Family Petition Green Card

Right now, the biggest challenge in the family petition green card process is the sheer length of time it may take to bring non-immediate family to the United States from other countries. There are at least two million immigrants on wait lists waiting for their visa application to be accepted. Only an act of Congress could expand visas for applicants, but so far there has been no significant change to the visa process or quotas. This means most visa recipients are either immediate family members, or they have waited through the long process to receive a visa.

For a complimentary, confidential consultation about obtaining a family petition green card, call the Lee Law Firm at (404) 892-8300 now.