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Obtaining a Green Card Through a Family Member

Having a green card means that you will be legally permitted to live in the United States permanently. Individuals 18 years or older and with the desire to become a U.S. citizen should review the U.S.Citizen and Immigration Service’s guide to naturalization. This form contains important information about getting a green card.

Applying for a green card to obtain residency in the United States may seem like an in-depth process, but if you follow the steps properly, you will be successful in filing your application. If you do run into any difficulties, just contact an experienced immigration lawyer.


Obtaining a green card comes with eligibility requirements, which vary depending upon which category applicants apply under. Determining eligibility is the first step in applying for a green card and applicants will first need to decide which type they fall under. The categories involved are:

Family Members that are U.S. Citizens

  • Immediate family: Child (under 21 years of age), spouse or parent of a U.S. citizen who is 21 years of age or older
  • Other: a Family member or relative of a legal permanent resident
  • Fiancé
  • Widow or widower
  • Victim of battery or extreme cruelty

Other Categories

– Employed as an immigrant worker

– Physician national interest waiver

– Immigrant investor

– Special immigrant

– Status as a refugee or asylee

– Victims of crime or human trafficking

– Victims of abuse

– Other categories

– Registry: If you have been a U.S. resident continuously since before Jan. 1, 1972

Visit the USCIS website for a more defined outline of these categories.


Each of the green card categories has procedures that must be followed. The following are the required procedures and forms needed when applying for a green card:

This process is going to determine if you are eligible for permanent residency in the United States.

Adjustment of Status form:
This is the name of the application used to obtain a green card while residing in the United States.

Consular processing:
This is the method used to obtain a green card by immigrants who are living outside of the United States.

Concurrent filing:
When the immigrant petition is filed simultaneously with the application for a green card it is referred to as concurrent filing. Usually, they are not filed at the same time.

Visa availability:
You must have a visa available to you before applying for a green card. Sometimes the number of visas is limited, so priority dates are assigned to those in the queue for a visa.

Travel parole documents:
You may be ineligible to travel outside the United States after applying for, or once you’ve obtained, a green card. Applying for parole documentation would allow temporary travel outside of the United States.

Filing an employment authorization document:
This document will determine if you are eligible to work in the United States. This document is not required once you are a permanent resident.

Medical exams:
Applicants will be required to obtain a medical exam by a physician approved by the USCIS as part of your application process.

Sponsor affidavit of support:
This is a form filed by a sponsor, on your behalf, and is meant to prove that you have the financial ability to reside in the United States without depending on assistance from the U.S. government.

Public charge
As an immigrant, you must prove that you will not become a public charge. A public charge is a person who needs funding from the U.S. government to support themselves.

Child Status Protection Act
Effective since August 6, 2002, this act allows children who have turned 21 years old after filing for an immigrant petition to still be eligible for a green card through certain criteria.


If you move before your application is finalized, you must provide USCIS with an updated address within 10 days of moving. Failing to do so, may result in missing important notices regarding your case. Note: you cannot just file a change of address at your local post office.

You can check on your application case status by:

– Checking online, be sure to have your application receipt number handy

– Submitting an inquiry

– Calling the USCIS contact center

– Making an appointment with your local USCIS office.

You should need to travel outside of the United States while awaiting a response on your application, you will need to file a parole document. If you travel outside of the U.S. without this document, your application will be considered abandoned.

Refrain from committing crimes as you will no longer be eligible to become a U.S. citizen and will be banned from the country.

The application process can be lengthy and while it’s certainly possible to file for a green card on your own, immigration procedures can be complicated. Talking with an immigration lawyer may be your best option to avoid any unforeseen problems.

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