Family-Based Green Cards | What Are the Different Kinds of Family-Based Green Cards?

How do you enter the United States based on family ties? In other words, how do you sponsor family members for green cards? Discover the intricacies of family-based green card sponsorship and begin your path to becoming an American citizen!

Family-Based Green Cards | What Are the Different Kinds of Family-Based Green Cards?

Many people from various countries want to immigrate to the United States with a Green Card. As a result, the US has created various types of Green Cards and US immigrant visas for people to apply for. The following are the major categories:

  • People who want to join their families in the United States can apply for Family Based Green Cards.
  • Green Cards based on employment for people who want to work in the United States for a US employer
  • Diversity Visas are available to people who have a low rate of immigration to the United States.
  • Returning Resident Visa for people unable to renew their immigrant residence status due to circumstances beyond their control.

This article will cover Family Based Green Cards, what they are, the different types, the requirements, how to apply, and other pertinent information.

What is a Family-Based Green Card?

One of the most common ways for people to obtain green cards and become permanent residents in the United States is through a family-based immigrant visa. Citizens and permanent residents can apply to the USCIS for an immigrant visa for their family members.

The process of applying to US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to sponsor close family members, such as siblings or children, so that they can apply for green cards is known as family-based green card sponsorship. A family-based green card entitles the sponsored individual to live and work in the United States indefinitely, as long as he or she does not break the law and reports any change of address within 10 days.

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A family-based green card is an immigration option that allows immediate relatives of U.S. citizens to apply for and receive green cards that allow them to live and work in the United States without having to go through a lottery or preference system, as with other visa applications. Furthermore, the family-based visa program now accounts for roughly two-thirds of the more than one million green cards issued each year.

What Are the Different Kinds of Family-Based Green Cards?

Furthermore, the family-based green card, like any other immigrant visa, has several subcategories. And each is determined by the family relationship that exists between the sponsor and the visa beneficiary. There are, however, two types of family-based immigrant visas: immediate relative and family preference.

Green card applications are handled differently for each of these two groups. The steps and processing time of the application will be determined by the relationship between the visa petitioner and the beneficiary.

Immigrant Visas for Immediate Relatives (IR)

Close relatives of US citizens, such as a spouse, child, or parent, are eligible for this type of visa. The subcategory is superior to other types of family-based visas because there is no limit on the number of visas that can be issued in a year, and it also has the quickest adjudication process.

The following are the categories of immediate relatives:

  • IR-1: Spouse of a U.S. citizen Citizen
  • IR-2: Unmarried Child of a U.S. Citizen Under the Age of 21 Citizen
  • IR-3: A U.S. citizen adopts an orphan from another country. Citizen
  • IR-4: An orphan will be adopted in the United States by a citizen of the United States.
  • IR-5: Parent of a U.S. citizen Citizen of at least 21 years of age

Immigrant Visas for Family Members

These visa types are intended for specific, more distant family relationships with a US citizen, as well as some specific relationships with a Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR). Each fiscal year, the number of immigrants in these categories is limited. Once a fiscal year's limit has been reached, additional applicants must wait in a visa line. Depending on the visa backlogs in their category, the wait time could be several months or years.

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Green cards for family preference are as follows:

  • Family First Preference (F1): Unmarried sons and daughters of U.S. citizens, and their minor children, if any.
  • Family Second Preference (F2): Spouses, minor children, and unmarried sons and daughters (age 21 and over) of LPRs.
  • Family Third Preference (F3): Married sons and daughters of U.S. citizens, and their spouses and minor children.
  • Family Fourth Preference (F4): Brothers and sisters of U.S. citizens, and their spouses and minor children, provided the U.S. citizens are at least 21 years of age.

What are the requirements for the Family Based Green Cards?

The requirements vary because Family Based Green Cards are different and apply to different people. The main requirement for all of them is that the person in the United States has a valid US address and that their status is verified. This requires them to have valid documents proving that they are either US citizens or Lawful Permanent Residents.

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Applicants must also have no criminal records and demonstrate that they have family ties to the person in the United States. If the person in the United States is the spouse, they must show a valid marriage certificate. If the relationship is between children and their parents or siblings, they must show a valid birth certificate.

How to Apply for a Family-Based Green Card in the United States

There are specific steps that must be taken in order for a U.S. To successfully sponsor a family member, you must be a lawful permanent resident. Although the application procedures and documentation for both types are the same, applicants whose petitions fall under the category of immediate relative (IR) immigrants benefit from a faster processing time than those whose petitions fall under the category of family preference immigrants.

Petition Submission

To begin, the I-130 petition is the first step in a family-based green card application. The U.S. Lawful Permanent Resident family member must submit a visa petition on USCIS Form I-130, along with the required supporting documents, to the U.S. Services for Citizenship and Immigration (USCIS). The I-130 form is used to establish the petitioner's (LPR) and beneficiary's familial relationship.

After receiving the petition, the USCIS will process it and determine whether both the petitioner and the beneficiary meet all of the family-based green card eligibility criteria. If the application is approved, the case file will be sent to the National Visa Center for additional processing. If the petition is denied, the petitioner may file a new petition after determining what changes are required to encourage approval.

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When the I-130 petition is approved, the USCIS will send the immigrant's case file to the National Visa Center (NVC) for further processing. If an immigrant visa for the category is available, the visa holder will need to take the next step by applying for status adjustment or going through consular processing. This depends on whether the sponsored family member is in the US or abroad.

Status modification

This is a procedure in which you must file the 1-485 with the USCIS. This green card application is for family members living in the United States. After establishing a qualifying familial relationship with the I-130 petition, this is your main green card application.

It must be completed and all required documents attached. Applicants who are immediate relatives can submit the I-485 and I-130 forms concurrently, which means there are no numerical restrictions in their category.

Consular Services

This is for family members who do not live in the United States. In this case, the approved I-130 will be sent to the embassy or consulate in the country where you (the beneficiary) live. When the petition reaches the embassy or consulate, both the petitioner and the beneficiary will be notified. The notification will also include information on when and how to proceed with your green card application.

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The immigrant will be required to fill out various forms, provide documents, and undergo a medical examination during the subsequent process. The next step is to meet with a consular officer one-on-one to verify your eligibility. The DS-260, Application for Immigrant Visa and Alien Registration, is required for this.

What are the fees to pay for the Family Based Green Cards?

There are various fees that the petitioner and the applicant must pay throughout the application process for the Family Based Green Cards. The amounts vary and are set by USCIS, the Department of Homeland Security and the individual US Embassy or Consulate where you are applying.

The main categories of fees that must be paid are as follows:

  • Form I-130 filing fee
  • Processing fee for the Form DS-260
  • Medical examination and vaccination fees
  • Fees to get and translate all the supporting documents
  • USCIS Immigrant Fee which you must pay after you receive your visa and before you travel to the US. USCIS will not issue you a Green Card without you paying this fee.


One of the best ways to bring loved ones to America is to sponsor a family member for a green card. However, it is not as simple as writing a check and mailing your application. If you want to legally bring your parents, wife, or children over here, there are many things to consider, including who can be sponsored based on the types of visas they have. Before you begin the process, you should consult with an immigration lawyer.

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You don't want to spend all of your time and money on an application only to discover that you're missing important documents or information! Follow the link below to learn more about family-based green card immigration.

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