Family Based Immigration

Family Based Immigration includes petitioning for a foreign born individual to achieve immigration status in the U.S. due to their relationship to a U.S. citizen. This includes petitioning for a foreign-born spouse or immediate relative.

There are no limits on visas available for foreign born spouses. As a result, green cards achieved through marriage are one of the most common ways to obtain permanent residence.

Similarly there is no limit on spots available for immediate relatives, including parents and children, unmarried and under the age of 21.

Forms to Submit
  • The US Citizen submits Form I-130 to petition for Alien Relative
  • If the foreign born spouse entered the US lawfully and is currently in the US, they may be able to submit the following forms at the same time as Form I-130:
    1. Form I-485 to Register for Permanent Residence or Adjustment of Status.
    2. Form I-765 to get an Employment Authorization Document, also known as a work permit.
    3. Form I-131 to get an Advance Parole international travel document
Cost of Getting a Green Card

The government charges a filing fee for the following forms (not including the cost of medical examination):

  1. $535 for Form I-130
  2. $1,225 for the Form I-485 packet
  3. No fee for Form I-131 and I-765 when filed at the same time as I-485
General Waiting Time

The waiting time for an interview at most USCIS offices is usually 14 -18 months. It’s possible to be approved for a green card the day of the interview. If USCIS has outstanding questions or concerns, they may send agents to your neighborhood to further investigate the bona fides of your marital relationship.

Getting a Green Card Through Marriage

Obtaining a green card through marriage is one of the most common ways to become a permanent U.S. resident. There are no limits on the number of people who can obtain a green card through marriage. The process begins by the US citizen submitting a petition for their spouse. If the spouse entered the U.S. lawfully, they can file for Adjustment of status and receive a green card while remaining in the US.

If approved, the foreign born spouse will receive a conditional green card for 2 years. After 2 years, they will have to apply to remove conditions. USCIS will seek evidence that the marriage is “bona fide” or in other words, real.

The Green Card Marriage Interview

The USCIS officer conducting your interview will be looking for evidence to determine the validity of your marriage, or in other words that it is not just to get a green card. The officer may ask about the history of your relationship (i.e. how and where you met), your wedding (i.e. dates, names of guests), your daily life, your friends (i.e. what do you all do for fun), your family, your education and your employment. They will often ask for specific details looking for inconsistencies between your answers, your spouse’s answers, and your submitted forms.

Interested in Interview Prep with a Former USCIS Officer? Schedule a Consultation to learn more.

5 Tips for a successful interview
  1. Tell the truth
  2. Keep your responses brief, we recommend 1-2 sentence answers.
  3. Only answer the question being asked, don’t add unnecessary detail. Officers are looking for any inconsistencies, providing unnecessary details could open you and/or your spouse to more questions and potential inconsistencies. Even the slightest inconsistencies can lead the officer to believe that you and your spouse are not really living together.
  4. If you’re not 100% certain about an answer, don’t guess. If you don’t know or don’t remember, it’s acceptable to say so.
  5. Review your submitted Forms to prepare. Review your I-130, I-485, I-864 and/or any other documents you submitted to USCIS. The officer will compare your answers to what you submitted, looking for any inconsistencies.
Common Interview Questions Your History
  • When and where did you meet?
  • Who introduced you to each other?
  • Where was your first date?
  • When did you meet each other’s parents?
  • What are the names of your spouse’s father and mother?
Your Wedding
  • What did your spouse wear at your wedding?
  • Who attended your wedding?
  • Where did the wedding take place?
  • Were your parents there?
  • Where did you go on your honeymoon?
Your Relationship
  • When is your spouse’s birthday?
  • Where have you gone on vacation together?
  • What is your spouse’s religion?
  • When is your anniversary?
  • Do you live together 24/7?
  • Who takes care of household finances?
Your Daily Life
  • Which side of the bed do you sleep on?
  • Do you have any pets?
  • How does your spouse get to work?
  • How many bedrooms are there in your house/apartment?
Your Friends and Family
  • How often do you see each other’s families?
  • When was the last time you saw your spouse’s parents?
  • What are the names of your spouse’s brothers and sisters ?
  • What’s your spouse’s best friend’s name?
  • Where did your spouse go to school?
  • Did he/she go to college?
  • What subject did your spouse major in?
  • Does your spouse have a college degree?
  • What is your spouse’s occupation?
  • Who does your spouse work for?
  • How long has your spouse been working there?
  • What is your spouse’s salary?

Interested in Interview Prep with a Former USCIS Officer? Schedule a Consultation to learn more.

Getting a Green Card Through Immediate Relatives

There are no quotas on green cards for immediate relatives of a U.S. Citizen. Most immediate relatives can become permanent residents as soon as 12 months after applying. U.S. Citizens are required to apply to petition for each relative individually. Similarly, each foreign-born relative is required to file a separate green card application.

The following individuals qualify as an immediate relative:

  • Spouse of U.S. citizen
  • Unmarried children under 21 years old of U.S. citizens
  • Parent of U.S. citizens, who is at least 21 years old
The Green Card Process in the U.S.

The process begins with the U.S. citizen filing Form I-130 petition for the immediate relative.The immediate relative can then file the Form I-485 to apply for permanent residence or adjustment of status, at the same time their US citizen petitioner files Form I-130.

Alternatively, an applicant can submit Form I-485 at any point after their petitioner files Form I-130, as long as the I-130 is either pending or approved.

As long as the immediate relative entered the United States in a lawful manner, they are permitted to adjust status in the U.S. even if they overstayed his visa or worked in the U.S. without authorization. They do not need to apply for a waiver to do so.

If an immediate relative entered the U.S. unlawfully, it’s unlikely they will qualify. The U.S. citizen can submit an I-130 to sponsor the immediate relative for a green card. The immediate relative will have to go abroad to apply for their green card, this is called Consular processing. Depending on the particular circumstances of the immediate relative, they may be able to file an unlawful presence waiver.

The Green Card Process Outside the U.S.

If the immediate relative is outside the U.S., the process still begins with the U.S. citizen filing Form I-130. Once USCIS has approved the I-130 petition, the immediate relative is eligible to become a permanent resident through consular processing. Consular processing occurs when the Department of State schedules an immigrant visa interview. Once admitted to the U.S., the immediate relative becomes a permanent resident.

The Department of State notifies applicants when they are able to apply for an immigration visa. The immediate relative is required to file for an immigrant visa within one year following the notice from the Department of State. If the application for an immigrant visa is not submitted within the one time period, the petition may be terminated.

Interested in Interview Prep with a Former USCIS Officer? Schedule a Consultation to learn more.