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Family-based Immigration

Law Offices of Yu & Associates

How Can My Family Members Obtain Green Cards?

You can bring your family members to the U.S. based on the following five family-based immigration categories:

  1. Immediate Relatives (IR)¡ªU.S. Citizen¡¯s spouse, parents, and children under the age of 21.
  2. First Preference (F1)¡ªUnmarried sons or daughters of U.S. Citizens, and their children.
  3. Second Preference (F2)¡ªF2A, spouses and children under 21 years old of legal permanent residents; and F2B, unmarried sons and daughters of legal permanent residents who are at least 21 years old.
  4. Third Preference (F3)¡ªMarried sons and daughters of U.S. citizens at any age and their spouses and children.
  5. Fourth Preference (F4)¡ªBrothers and sisters of U.S. citizens and their spouses and children.

Your family members are subject to quotas, except for the Immediate Relative category, which requires them to wait until their priority dates become available.

How Can My Spouse Get an Immigrant Visa?

You can file a Petition for Alien Relative with USCIS for your spouse to immigrate to the United States. If your spouse is currently in the U.S., he/she can adjust his/her status here. If your spouse is outside the U.S., he/she can apply for an immigration visa at a U.S. embassy or consulate abroad after your petition is approved by USCIS.

Can I Marry a U.S. Citizen and Obtain a Green Card if I Overstayed?

Yes. As long as you originally entered the US legally, no matter whether you overstay your approved stay or not, you can adjust status and get a green card in the U.S.

Can I Apply for a Green Card After Marrying a U.S. Citizen if I Entered the U.S. Illegally?

No, you may not. If you entered the US without inspection, you cannot adjust status in the U.S. and have to leave the country for adjudication of the application at the U.S. consulate abroad. If you are illegally in the U.S. for more than six months but less than one year, you will be subject to a 3-year bar on reentry. If you were present illegally for more than a year, then you are barred from coming back for 10 years. The only way to overcome the 3-year or 10-year bar is for the U.S. citizen spouse to submit a waiver of the bar. The petition has to prove that it would cause extreme and exceptional hardship to the U.S. citizen spouse to move to the foreign spouse's country.

Can I Get a Green Card through Marriage if I Entered the U.S. as a Crewman?

You have to leave the U.S. before you can obtain a green card. You will have to apply for a waiver of the 3-year or 10-year bar at the U.S. embassy or consulate. If the waiver is approved, you can enter as a permanent resident. However, if the waiver gets denied, you will not be able to re-enter the U.S.

If I Married a US Citizen, Can My Children Obtain Green Cards with Me?

Yes, but only children under the age of 18 at the time their natural parent married a U.S. citizen can be the beneficiaries of a petition as step-children and obtain green cards at the same time as the natural parent.

How Long Does It Take for a Spouse of a U.S. Citizen to Receive a Green Card?

It depends. It usually takes several months if both the U.S. citizen and the immigrant spouse reside in the U.S., and it takes about one year if the alien spouse lives outside the U.S. If you and the U.S. citizen spouse have been married for more than 2 years, you will be able to obtain a 10-year green card immediately. Otherwise, you will first be granted a conditional green card, and must petition for removal of the condition after one year and nine months from the date that you were originally granted conditional permanent residence, but before the expiration date of the conditional green card.

Can my same-sex spouse get a green card?

On July 1, 2013, following the Supreme Court's decision striking down the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano directed USCIS to treat immigration petitions from same-sex couples the same as petitions from opposite-sex couples. Therefore, if your spouse meets the other requirements for marriage-based immigration, you can sponsor your same-sex spouse for a green card.

In 2015, the Supreme Court granted same-sex couples the right to marry in all U.S. states and in unincorporated U.S. territories, such as Puerto Rico. Therefore, same-sex partners may now marry anywhere in the U.S., and it will count for U.S. immigration purposes.

What if I married my same-sex partner in another country?

As long as same-sex marriage is officially recognized in that country, you are eligible to apply for immigration based on marriage.

Are same-sex partners eligible for fiancé(e) visas?

Yes. USCIS will treat petitions for same-sex fiancé(e)s the same as petitions for opposite-sex fiancé(e)s.

My same-sex spouse has children. Will they also be eligible for green cards?

Generally, yes. Any of the spouse¡¯s children that were under the age of 18 at the time of the marriage would be considered stepchildren and are eligible to apply.

How long will it take for USCIS to review and adjudicate a same-sex marriage case?

It will be the same as for green card petitions based on opposite-sex marriage, which can range from several months to about a year.


The above is intended as a general introduction and should not be construed as legal advice or legal opinion for your particular case. Please contact the Law Offices of Yu & Associates with any specific questions. Tel: (301) 838-8986, Email:, Address: 110 N Washington St., Suite 328E, Rockville, MD 20850.

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