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New York Family Immigration Lawyer

Foreign nationals have the opportunity to lawfully obtain a green card, or permanent resident status, through the family-based immigration pathway. In order to qualify for permanent residency, foreign citizens must have a relative who is either a United States citizen or permanent resident file a petition on their behalf.

Family of Green Card Holders

Green card holders may petition for certain eligible family members to immigrate to America as permanent residents. These can include:

  • Spouses
  • Unmarried children under the age of 21
  • Unmarried children of any age

The application process will require a permanent resident to complete necessary paper work and applications, as well as provide proof of status and familial relationship to the applicant. The process can be completed if the applicant is currently in the United States on a nonimmigrant visa or if they are outside of the United States.

Family of U.S. Citizens

Citizens of the United States may also file petitions for eligible family members. Unlike family members of green card holders, immediate relatives of U.S. citizens do not have to wait for a visa to become available. Immediate relatives of U.S. citizens include:

  • Spouses
  • Children, unmarried and under the age of 21
  • Parents
  • Siblings

If a family member does not qualify as an immediate relative, U.S. citizens must use preference categories when filing for family-based immigration. These preference categories also apply to relatives of green card holders. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services department limits the amount of visas for each category per year, and applicants must wait until a visa becomes available for their preference category before immigrating to the United States. The preference categories are as follows:

  • First Preference: Unmarried, children over age 21 of U.S. citizens
  • Second Preference (2A): Spouses and unmarried children under 21 of green card holders
  • Second Preference (2B): Unmarried children of green card holders
  • Third Preference: Married children of U.S. citizens
  • Fourth Preference: Siblings of U.S. citizens age 21 or older

Visas are limited by the amount available for each category, the demand and supply of visa numbers and the percentage of visas available to a particular country.

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