Family-Based Green Card FAQ

Questions? We are here to help.

In terms of wait times, which family-based immigration category has the fastest priority date?

F2A applicants usually enjoy the shortest processing times. This is because a higher priority is given to them. In addition, this category has the largest quota, as 77 percent of the annual allotment goes to this subcategory.

Where can I access the Visa Bulletin to see how when my date for filing will be?

The Visa Bulletin is a valuable resource available on the State Department website. The link is also available here.

What is the difference between “Current” and “Oversubscribed” when reading the Visa Bulletin?

Due to a specified number of family based green cards that are given out each year by the federal government, there are longer wait times in some categories, simply because there are either not enough visas available. This is due to the fact that there are more applicants in some countries than visas (higher demand than supply).

As such, when reading the Visa Bulletin, Current means that there will be a visa number available when you send in your application materials, and oversubscribed is indicated by a priority date at which point those who have filed their application will have to wait until that date becomes posted.

What is the rule regarding who is considered a child in U.S. immigration law?

According to the INA—Immigration and Nationality, a child for immigration purposes is an individual who is under 21 years of age and is unmarried.

Is the Public Charge rule still in effect?

Yes, the public charge rule was re-instated in 2019, and applies mostly for family based immigrants. The rule has not been canceled by the Biden Administration as of yet.

What is meant by the term “immediate relatives” in USCIS terms?

Immediate relatives only refers to the spouse, unmarried children (under 21), and parents of the U.S. citizen in question.

Do immediate relatives require their own I-130 petition?

Not necessarily. Most derivatives are included on the principal applicant’s I-130 as “derivatives”. When the I-130 is approved, both the principal applicant and the derivative are then eligible for an adjustment of status.

When is the difference between a derivative and principal applicant?

When an immigrant has an I-130 petition approved on their behalf, they are then eligible to file their I-485 Adjustment of Status application. If this applicant has an immigrant parent or child, they are considered derivatives, and they are “following to join” in the application process.

Is a stepchild an immediate relative?

Yes, stepchildren are included in the INAs definition of a “child” even though it is not a biological relationship. The condition for stepchildren is that the marriage must have taken place before the child’s 18th birthday.

Are adopted children considered a derivative?

Yes, if the adopted child is an individual who was adopted before the age of 16, and the adopted child has resided in the legal protection of the adoptive parent for 2 years prior to filing.

Is there a green card interview for parents?

Yes, USCIS field offices require parents (derivatives) to attend a green card interview. The purpose of these interviews are to verify the blood relationship to the U.S. citizen or LPR that filled out the respective I-130 petition. Generally, these interviews are less serious than marriage green card interviews.

How can I find my electronic I-94 record?

You can find your I-94 electronically by re-locating it to the CBP government website. The link is available here. Users should scroll to the “Need a History of Your Arrivals and Departures?” tab, and then fill out the form with their Name, Nationality, Passport #, and DOB.

Are medical exams required for parents and children who are following to join?

All I-485 applicants who are following to join (parents, children) are required to have their vaccination and medical records up to date before their green card interview. This is a key requirement for anyone who is adjusting their status.

Which nationalities experience the longest wait times when it comes to family-based green cards?

Countries with large populations and many family based visa applicants tend to experience the longest wait times. Currently, applicants from Mexico, China (mainland), India, and the Philippines experience wait times longer than 10 years in several family based preference categories. Referring to the Visa Bulletin will help applicants get a better idea of quotas for each category.

Can diversity lottery winners sponsor a family member?

Diversity Lottery winners go on to become legal permanent residents of the United States. This does not mean that their children or spouse in their country of origin can accompany them immediately. The LPR needs to abide by the family based immigration system at this point and petition for their spouse/child by filing an I-130.

Who can U.S. citizens petition for that LPRs cannot?

LPRs can petition for their spouse and unmarried children, but only U.S. citizens can petition for their parents.

Can my spouse submit a waiver of inadmissibility because of his/her religion?

Oftentimes in family based immigration, as is the case with employment based as well, waivers of inadmissibility may be submitted. Religious purpose is one reason a waiver may be submitted. Waivers can also be submitted by immigrants if they agree to have vaccinations completed when they arrive in the United States, or for communicable disease purposes. For example, you cannot be inadmissible to the United States for being HIV positive. Complete the I-601 waiver of inadmissibility if you or a family member is eligible.

Can a U.S. citizen sponsor their aunt or uncle to come to the United States?

U.S. citizens, as well as LPRs may not petition on behalf of distant relatives, such as grandparents, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews and cousins.

What is the filing fee for an I-130 Petition?

$535. The USCIS also has a no-refund policy regardless of the final decision on this petition.

How long is an approved I-130 valid for?

Technically for consular processing applicants the case will be open indefinitely. But applicants need to keep in contact with the NVC at least once a year to make sure the file is still open. In addition, the underlying relationship needs to continue to exist between the beneficiary and the petitioner.

What happens if my petitioner passes away while my I-130 is still pending?

This issue was addressed by Congress in 2009 with a statutory provision (INA Section 204). This provision gave aliens the ability to seek an immigration benefit through a deceased qualifying relative in certain circumstances. To see if these circumstances might apply to your application, visit the following USCIS link: https://www.uscis.gov/policy-manual/volume-7-part-a-chapter-9.

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