A green card is known as a permanent residence card which allows non-citizens to stay in the United States permanently and legally. It creates pathways for many people who want to stay in the U.S. for their job, study, business, refuges, or any other purpose to live and work anywhere in the U.S. legally.

Green Card through Family

Any foreign citizen who wants to live permanently in the United States requires an immigrant visa (IV). So, if you want to be eligible to apply for an immigrant visa as a foreign citizen, you need to have an immediate relative who is at least 21 years old and also has U.S. citizenship or a green card to sponsor your visa. Before further discussion, first, there’s a need to know about the Petitioners and Beneficiaries.

In family-based immigration, the beneficiary and petitioner are two family members, a beneficiary is a person who wants to get a green card while on the other hand, while the petitioner is a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident who can sponsor his foreign family member to get his green card.

So, any of the family members who can sponsor the green card will be his petitioner.  Even a petitioner himself will also be in the queue to get U.S. citizenship if he/she couldn’t get it yet, but he/she must have a green card before sponsoring others. 

Types of family-based Immigrant visas

There are two types of family-based immigrant visas:

1. Immediate Relative

If you are an immediate relative of a U.S. citizen, you can apply for a green card under the family-based immigrant visas. In this case, the process must be super-fast which takes only 5 to 9 months which is the shortest wait period.  You can apply for the quota of an immediate relative if you fall in the following category:

  • If you are the spouse of a U.S. citizen.
  • If you are an unmarried child of a U.S. citizen under the age of 21. 
  • If you are the parent of a U.S. citizen who is at least 21 years old.

2. Non-immediate Relatives

If you are not included in the category of an immediate relative, still you can also apply for family-based immigration as a family member through the petitioner but this process will take more time as compared to the previous one. In this case, you must fall into the following categories:

  • If you are the daughter/son of a U.S. citizen at least 21 years old.
  • If you are the sister/brother of a U.S. citizen having at-least 21years of age. 
  • If you are a Married son/daughter of a U.S.  citizen.
  • If you are a fiancé or fiancée’s child of a U.S. citizen.
  • If you are the widow or widower of a U.S.  citizen
  • And if you are an abused child, parent, or spouse of a U.S.  citizen.

Application Process:

  • To start the process, a petitioner, who is a U.S.  citizen or lawful permanent resident should send a formal request to the U.S.  government about his/her wish to have a family member immigrate to the United States to live with him.
  • The petitioner must file Form I-130 (a petition for Alien relatives) to file an application for a family-based immigrant visa. 
  • During the submission of the form, there’s also a need to send some evidence to prove the relationship between petitioner and beneficiary such as a government-approved birth certificate or marriage certificate. Moreover, it is also required to submit evidence of the immigration status of the petitioner.
  • Furthermore, the petitioner should also need to prove that he/she is able enough to support his relative having 125% or above the poverty line before sponsoring him to fulfill the financial-related criteria.  A joint sponsorship can also be helpful in fulfilling this requirement. 
  • After the thorough verification of the data provided by the petitioner, USCIS approves the application for family-based immigration and a visa number will be assigned to you. While, in case of denial, a decision will be informed via letter. 

Ways to Apply for a Green Card

There are two ways of applying for a green card:

1. Through Consular Processing

In this case, the applicant can apply for a green card through a foreign country’s U.S. embassy or consulate, This is a very easy process and suitable for the immigrant applying from outside of the United States or present in the United States at the time of initiation of the process.  

2. Through Adjustment of Status

The adjustment of status process is available for a very small group of applicants who are already present in the United States.  

Visa dates and Visa Bulletins

There will be a backlog if immigration requests exceed the available visas.  and a lot of people have to wait for their turn. When this problem appears, there will be a priority date that determines where to stand in line. Actually, the priority date is the date when your I-130 petition is filed and accepted. This category is purely specified for the petitions for family preference visas that are not available for any other kind of green card. Immediate relatives are always on the priority list and have an unlimited visa number available for them.

Every month, there’s a visa bulletin published by the United States Department, through which immigrants can see when they will get to the front of the line. For some categories, this happens in a few months while others have to wait for years to reach the front of the line when your priority date gets reached. If all this process undergoes smoothly and there are no issues, the immigrant is allowed to live in the United States permanently.


  1. https://www.boundless.com/immigration-resources/the green card explained retrieved on 27th January 2022. 
  2. https://youtu.be/4aNtOKF4Upk retrieved on 27th January 2022. 
  3. https://youtu.be/wuPCYTnuLNk retrieved on 27th January 2022.