Family-Based Green Cards

According to the U.S. Council on Human Relations, the United States granted a little more than one million individuals green cards in 2015. Nearly two-thirds of those legal permanent residence cards were based on family reunification. The importance of one’s family to the human existence cannot be understated. Thus, family reunification immigration is one of the most popular ways to obtain a green card or visa.

The process for an immigrant green card holder sponsoring a family member is different from a U.S. Citizen sponsoring a family member. The status of the sponsor will often affect the priority and speed with which an applicant obtains entry. Both procedures are essential, however, for individuals who have legally emigrated to the U.S. and are in search of family reunification.

It can take up to six months to obtain a green card. This process can take even longer and be even more arduous when it is done incorrectly. Given that, it is imperative that individuals who want to be lawfully and duly admitted to the U.S. obtain an experienced immigration attorney.

Attorney for Family-Based Green Cards in The Woodlands, TX

Attorney Luis F. Hess understands the importance of reuniting families. If you or someone you know is a U.S. citizen or green card holder and is interested in sponsoring a family member for LPR status, then contact Luis F. Hess, PLLC.

Luis F. Hess serves clients with the utmost dedication throughout the Houston-Woodland metropolitan area. Throughout Montgomery County and Harris County, Luis F. Hess represents clients living in Conroe, Shenandoah, The Woodlands, Spring, Houston and the surrounding areas.

Call Luis F. Hess, PLLC at (281) 205-8540 for more information about how an experienced immigration attorney can help you become eligible for family-based immigration solutions.


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Overview of Family-Based Immigration


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Benefits to the Family of the Green Card Holders

A person who is a green card holder, also known as a permanent resident, may apply for certain family members to immigrate to the United States. Who may be allowed to become a permanent resident based on family ties is limited by the relationship that the applicant has to the green card holder who is sponsoring him or her.

A green card holder may petition for a particular group of family members based on preference categories. It is important to note that the preference categories do not affect the process for which a sponsor and applicant must file for a green card. To obtain a green card for a family member, the applicant will file a form for an alien relative. In addition to the form, the applicant must show the following:

  • The sponsor must provide proof of status, demonstrating that he or she is a permanent resident;
  • The sponsor must also provide evidence of a qualifying relationship by using a birth certificate, marriage license, divorce decree, or another official document; and
  • The sponsor must also submit proof of any legal name change for his or her self, or for the beneficiary.

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U.S Citizens vs. Legal Permanent Residence (LPR)

An individual’s status as a U.S. citizen or a legal permanent resident when he or she is attempting to sponsor a family member to immigrate to the United States affects the preference category. The status of a sponsor also determines which forms the applicant must complete when applying for permanent residence.

For example, if a person were first a lawful permanent resident who petitioned for his or her spouse to receive a green card, then the preference category at that time would be the Second Preference (2A). After the petitioner becomes a U.S. citizen, however, the beneficiary’s preference category, under this example, will change to that of “Immediate Relative.”

The USCIS defines an “Immediate Relative” as:

  1. a spouse of a U.S. citizen;
  2. an unmarried child, under the age of 21, of a U.S. citizen; or
  3. a parent of a U.S. citizen who is at least 21 years old.

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Preference Categories for Family Immigration

Preference categories are for individuals who want to immigrate to the U.S. with a family sponsor, but who are not considered “immediate family members” of a U.S. citizen. The “preference” refers to the method by which the U.S. will distribute green cards each year.

Only a certain number of green cards are granted each year, and the waiting period for each category will depend on the number of visas in that category.

The preference categories are as follows: 

  • First-preference (F1): unmarried, adult sons and daughters of U.S. citizens;
  • Second-preference (2A): spouses and unmarried children (under 21) of permanent residents;
  • Second-preference (2B): unmarried children of permanent residents (21 or older);
  • Third preference (F3): married sons and daughters (any age) of U.S. citizens; and
  • Fourth preference (F4): brothers and sisters of U.S. citizens (over 21).

As green cards become available in an individual’s preference category, then the distribution is based on the time an application was filed.


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Other Types of Green Cards Based on a Family Relationship

The different green card categories depend on the nature of the family relationship and the family member's status as a U.S. citizen or a lawful permanent residence. Other relatives of a U.S. citizen or relatives of a lawful permanent resident under the family-based preference categories include:

  • The family member of a U.S. citizen including:
    • the unmarried son or daughter of a U.S. citizen and you are 21 years old or older;
    • the married son or daughter of a U.S. citizen; or
    • the brother or sister (sibling) of a U.S. citizen who is at least 21 years old.
  • The family member of a lawful permanent resident, including:
    • the spouse of a lawful permanent resident;
    • the unmarried child under the age of 21 of a lawful permanent resident; or
    • the unmarried son or daughter of a lawful permanent resident 21 years old or older.
  • The fiancé(e) of a U.S. citizen or the fiancé(e)’s child including:
    • a person admitted to the U.S. as a fiancé(e) of a U.S. citizen (K-1 nonimmigrant); or
    • a person admitted to the U.S. as the child of a fiancé(e) of a U.S. citizen (K-2 nonimmigrant).
  • The widow(er) of a U.S. citizen;
  • The abused spouse, child, or parent (the VAWA self-petitioner – a victim of battery or extreme cruelty):
    • the abused spouse of a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident;
    • the abused child (unmarried and under 21 years old) of a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident; or
    • the abused parent of a U.S. citizen.

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Additional Resources

Family Based-Immigration Law - Visit the website of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to learn more about sponsoring other family members to receive legal permanent residence status, including obtaining a fiance visa or a K-4 visa based on a spousal relationship. The relevant information includes insight into the types of relatives for whom you may petition including a spouse, children, sons, and daughters, parents and siblings.


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Find a Lawyer for Family-Based Green Cards in Montgomery County, TX

Family reunification is important. Luis F. Hess prides himself on hard work, dedication, and grit. These are also the qualities that drive individuals who are attempting to live and work in the United States. Let Luis F. Hess put his experience to work for you.

From his office in Shenandoah just north of The Woodlands, Luis F. Hess represents clients throughout Montgomery County and Harris County, TX. He helps clients living in Conroe, Shenandoah, The Woodlands, Spring, Houston and the surrounding areas. 

Call Luis F. Hess, PLLC at (281) 205-8540 for more information about the requirements for family-law or employment-based visas.


This article was last updated on Friday, January 26, 2018.

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