Schedule A Free Consultation

(216) 292-6655


A Family Based Green Card is a method of obtaining lawful permanent residency through a relative who is either a citizen of the U.S. or a lawful permanent resident.


U.S. citizen or Lawful Permanent resident can apply for his or her relatives on Form I-130, Petition for Relative Alien.

 A U.S. citizen can apply for:

 A permanent resident can apply for:

  • A spouse (IR-1)
  • A child (unmarried and under 21) (IR-2)
  • Unmarried son or daughter (21 or older) (IR
  • Married child of any age
  • Brother or sister, if petitioner is 21
  • Parent, if petitioner is 21 (IR-5)

*** Can not apply for grandchild****

  • A spouse
  • A child (unmarried and under 21)
  • Unmarried son or daughter (21 years old or older)

  • To be recognized as a sibling for immigration purposes, siblings should have one parent in common.
  • Adopted child for immigration purposes is a child who has been adopted while she or she was under 16 years of age, and has been living with the adoptive parent for at least 2 years.
  • If a 19 years old child gets married and subsequently gets divorced he or she is considered a child if still under 21.
  • Proxy marriage is not valid.
  • Important! If a child petitions for his parent, the parent cannot for his or her children.

Once the petition is granted, the relative must apply for immigrant visa at the appropriate consulate. The case will be transferred to the National Visa Center for further processing. Upon approval of Form I-130, not every relative is authorized to enter the U.S. or work in the U.S.  Only immediate relatives are not subject to direct numerical limitations, so the immigrant visa is immediately available to them.

Immediate Relative Immigrant Visas  are based on a close family relationship with a United States (U.S.) citizen described as an Immediate Relative (IR). The number of immigrants in these categories is not limited each fiscal year. Immediate relative visa types include:

  • IR-1: Spouse of a U.S. Citizen
  • IR-2: Unmarried Child Under 21 Years of Age of a U.S. Citizen
  • IR-3: Orphan adopted abroad by a U.S. Citizen
  • IR-4: Orphan to be adopted in the U.S. by a U.S. citizen
  • IR-5: Parent of a U.S. Citizen who is at least 21 years old

The other categories of immigrants shall wait to receive immigrant visa and enter the U.S. until the visa will become available to them. See visa bulletin for visa availability.


You may also be eligible to get a family based green card if you: 

  • Are a battered child or spouse of a U.S. citizen
  • Entered the United States with a K-1 visa as the fiancé(e) or spouse of a U.S. citizen or an accompanying child
  • Obtained V non-immigrant status
  • Are born to a foreign diplomat in the United States.

* All family sponsored classifications begin with the letter “F”


To petition for a family member to receive a family based green card, you must submit Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative and the following documentation with your Form I-130:

  • Proof of your U.S. citizenship;
  • Evidence of the qualifying relationship (birth certificate, marriage certificate, divorce decree, etc.) If the child was born out of wedlock, you must show that bona-fide relationship between you and the child existed, financial support, and continuous interest in the child’s welfare;
  • Proof of any legal name change for you or the beneficiary;
  • Form G325A;
  • A passport style photo of petitioner and beneficiary;
  • An appropriate filing fee; spell out “U.S. Department of Homeland Security” on a check.

* Spouses of deceased U.S. permanent residents may also be eligible to become permanent residents.

An approved petition DOES NOT grant any benefit, it simply creates a place in line for visa processing.


Immediate relatives
For immediate relatives of U.S. citizens, visas are always available, which means that your family member does not need to wait in line for a visa. Immediate relatives who are in the United States can file Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status at the same time as Form I-130. At the same time Form I-864, Affidavit of Support, signed by the petitioner must be filed. The Petitioner can support his or her relative at 125% above the mandated poverty line. Please refer to Poverty Guidelines here. See Affidavit of Support Page for further details.

Other family members
Other family members are subject to limited visa numbers available to them depending on their relationships.

There are four preference categories for limited family-based immigration:

  1. First Preference: Unmarried children over the age of 21 of US citizens.
  2. Second Preference: 2A—Spouses of lawful permanent residents, their unmarried children under the age of 21, and 2B—Unmarried sons and daughters of permanent residents who are 21 and older.
  3. Third Preference: Married children of US citizens.
  4. Fourth Preference: Siblings of adult US citizens.

To see the current wait times, please see Visa Bulletin 
When the visa becomes available the beneficiary can file an Application to Register Permanent Resident or Adjust Status (Form I-485) if he or she is in the United States or may apply for an immigrant visa if he or she is abroad.

Currently, the consular-based immigration process (I-130 followed by consular processing) for immediate relatives is taking approximately a year to complete.


Cleveland Immigration Lawyer  Frequently Asked Questions

Q: If I file on behalf of my relative (I-130 pending) will he/she be able to come to the U.S. on a valid visitor’s visa (B-1/B-2) or under the Visa Waiver program when he/she can prove that they are planning to return to their home country?

A: Having a pending I-130 is certainly evidence of possible immigrant intent; however, it is possible to prove that the person has no intention to immigrate ON THAT VISIT.  The traveler should NOT lie about the I-130 if asked at the border or about why they are coming to the U.S.  In cases such as this, they should bring evidence that they will return to their country of residence such as lease/mortgage papers, latest checking account statement, latest pay stub, utility bills, round trip tickets and other solid proof that they intend to return.