Green Cards (Common)
National Interest Waivers
Professors & Researchers
Executives & Managers
PERM Labor Certification
Investors (EB-5 visas)
Family (Spouse, etc.)
Work Visas (Common)
O-1 Extraordinary Ability
TN Canadians & Mexicans
J-1 Visa Holders
Nurses & Physical Therapists
Green Cards for Spouses or Children of U.S. Permanent Residents
Spouses and children of U.S. permanent residents are eligible for permanent residency in the United States. These family members qualify for the second preference, family-based category. The preference 2-A category is for spouses and unmarried children under 21 years old, and preference 2-B is for unmarried children who are 21 years or older of permanent residents. To qualify as a “child” in this category, the person must be the unmarried son or daughter of a permanent resident.
The second preference group is allotted 114,200 visas per year, plus any visas not used by the first preference. 77% of the annual visa goes to the 2A subcategory, and the other 23% goes to 2B subcategory. The State Department’s “Visa Bulletin” provides current information on wait times for available visas.
An adopted child qualifies as long as the adoption was finalized before the child's 16th birthday. The adoptive parents must have had legal custody of the child for two years (before or after the adoption), and the child must reside with the adoptive parents for two years (before or after the adoption).
A stepchild qualifies as long as the marriage occurred before the stepchild's 18th birthday.
The application process for a green card for a spouse or child of a U.S. permanent resident depends on whether the alien family member is in the United States or outside of the United States.
If the spouse or child is already in the United States in a nonimmigrant status, the lawful permanent resident must file an immigrant petition (called an I-130) with the Immigration Service. Once a visa becomes available, he or she may apply to adjust to permanent resident (I-485). During this waiting period, the spouse or child must maintain valid nonimmigrant status.
If the spouse or child is outside of the United States, the lawful permanent resident should file an I-130 immigrant petition. The petition should request that the Immigration Service notify the U.S. Consulate in the country where the brother or sister lives. Once the Service approves the immigrant petition and an immigrant visa is available, the National Visa Center of the U.S. State Department sends “Packet 3” to the lawful permanent resident. After the necessary forms are completed, the spouse or child goes to the U.S. Consulate overseas to apply for an immigrant visa. The spouse or child becomes a U.S. permanent resident when he or she enters the United States on an immigrant visa.