In certain circumstances, family member of U.S. citizens or legal permanent residents (“LPRs”) may obtain a green card by virtue of their familial relationship to the U.S. citizen or LPR. This article provides on overview of the requirements for obtaining a green card through a family member.
To be eligible for a green card by virtue of being a relative of a U.S. citizen or LPR, the following criteria must be met:
1. The sponsoring relative must be a U.S. citizen or LPR of the United States and be able to provide documentation proving their status;
2. The sponsoring relative must prove they are financially able to maintain the prospective green card candidate to 125% of the poverty line; and
3. The sponsoring relative must be able to provide proof of his or her family ties to the foreign national.
RELATIVES WHO ARE NOT SUBJECT TO THE GREEN CARD QUOTA
There is a numerical limit on how many green cards are issued each fiscal year. The numerical restriction on the amount of green card that can be obtained each fiscal year is referred to as a “quota” or “cap”. However, certain individuals are exempt from that quota and thus not subject to the numerical restrictions. The following foreign nationals are exempt from the green card quota:
1. Spouses of U.S. citizen;
2. Unmarried children of U.S. citizens who are under the age of 21;
3. Parents of U.S. citizens where the U.S. citizen is 21 years of age or older; and
4. Widows of U.S. citizens (under certain conditions).
RELATIVES WHO ARE SUBJECT TO THE GREEN CARD QUOTA
Like obtaining a green card through employment, relatives of U.S. citizens or LPRs who are eligible for a green card are categorized by preference. The preferences for relatives of U.S. citizens/LPRs subject to the green card cap are as follows:
First Preference: Unmarried children of U.S. citizens over 21 years of age and their children.
Second Preference: Spouses of LPRs, their unmarried children (under 21 years of age), and unmarried children of LPRs.
Third Preference: Married children of U.S. citizens, their spouses, and their unmarried children under 21 years of age.
Fourth Preference: The brothers and sisters of U.S. citizens 21 years of age or older and their unmarried children under the age of 21.