Family-Based Immigration FAQ
Helping Families Stay United
If you have questions about any family-based immigration process, we encourage you to read our FAQ below. Here you will find answers to some of the most commonly asked questions, which may assist you as you get started on your case.
Do not hesitate to contact us at (312) 698-9066 if you still have questions. We would be happy to help you.
I am undocumented and living in the U.S. How can I obtain a green card?
The answer will depend on your specific circumstances. In general, undocumented individuals living in the U.S. could become legal permanent residents by virtue of family relationships, humanitarian relief, or, if placed in removal proceedings (deportation proceedings), through potential forms of relief available in immigration court.
In limited circumstances, undocumented individuals might qualify to obtain legal permanent resident status through an employer.
I am a U.S. citizen and I have been told that my spouse who is undocumented will have to leave the U.S. to obtain a green card. Why?
Most likely, the reason why your spouse must leave the U.S. to become a permanent resident is because she or he does not qualify for adjustment of status. Adjustment of status is a process that allows individuals living in the U.S. to apply for and receive legal permanent resident status without having to leave the U.S. However, not everyone qualifies for adjustment of status.
In order to qualify for adjustment of status, the applicant must meet one of the following requirements:
- Have been inspected and admitted to the U.S.
- Is eligible for 245(i)
- Is eligible for Parole in Place
Can my U.S. citizen son or daughter petition for me?
Yes. However, your U.S. citizen son or daughter will have to be at least 21 years old to be able to petition for you. Keep in mind that even if your son or daughter is eligible to petition for you, your specific circumstances will determine if you could obtain a green card and the process you qualify for.
Why do I have to wait many years for an immigrant visa to become available?
The number of visas available each year is set by the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). Immigrant visas for immediate relatives of U.S. citizens – such as spouses, unmarried children under 21 years of age, and parents of U.S. citizens at least 21 years old – are unlimited and always available. However, immigrant visas for the family-sponsored who are not immediate relatives are numerically limited. In addition, there are limits to the percentage of visas that can be allotted based on an immigrant’s country of chargeability. When the demand is higher that the supply of visas for a given year, a waiting list or backlog is created. Once an I-130 Petition for Alien Relative is filed on your behalf, you will be given a priority date that will be used to determine when an immigrant visa is available to you.
My priority date was current last month, but not this month. What happened?
Often, a priority date will be current one month but not the following month. This happens when more people apply for a visa in a family preference category than there are visas available for that month and the annual limit for a category or country has been exhausted or is expected to run out soon.
Where can I check to see if my priority date is current?
You may check the U.S. Department of State’s website to see if your priority date is current. Find the U.S. Department of State’s visa bulletin here.
Can my legal permanent resident relative petition for me?
Your legal permanent resident spouse or parent (if you are unmarried) may petition for you. However, your preference category will determine how long you will have to wait for an immigrant visa to become available. Once your preference category becomes current, you may apply for adjustment of status in the United States if you are in legal immigration status or if you are eligible for 245(i). If you are outside the U.S., you will apply for an immigration visa at a U.S. embassy or consulate having jurisdiction over your case.
My U.S. citizen sibling petitioned for me many years ago and a visa is now available for me. Can my spouse and children apply for a green card with me?
Yes. Your spouse and minor unmarried children (under 21 years old) may apply for legal permanent resident status with you.
I attended my immigrant visa interview and the consular officer denied my case. What happened and what can I do?
There are a number of reasons why an applicant might be ineligible to obtain an immigrant visa. Some of the most common reasons for denials include criminal convictions and previous immigration violations. Although not required, consular officers will often inform the applicant the reason for the denial and whether or not a waiver is available for the applicant.
I was a legal permanent resident when I filed an I-130 family petition for a family member, but now I am a U.S. citizen, what should I do?
If you filed a petition for your spouse and/or minor children (under 21 years old) when you were a legal permanent resident, and you are now a U.S. citizen, you should upgrade the petition from family second preference to immediate relative. You can do this by sending proof of your U.S. citizenship, such as your U.S. passport or naturalization certificate, to the National Visa Center. Keep in mind that immediate relative visas are unlimited, and your family member will not have to wait for a visa if you upgrade your I-130 petition.