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Children representing family green cards for relatives of US citizens for Shaftel Law
U.S. citizens have the right to sponsor a variety of relatives so that family members can be reunited in the U.S. These relatives include spouses (husbands and wives), parents, children and siblings (brothers and sisters). Read on to learn more about each of these situations.

Obtaining a Green Card Based on Marriage to a U.S. Citizen

Marriage to a U.S. citizen is one of the most common immigration applications we deal with. If you are married to a U.S. citizen, your U.S. citizen husband or wife can file a green card application for you. If you entered the country with a visa (or via the visa waiver program), you can get your green card in the U.S. If you did not properly enter the U.S., the process is a bit more complicated. In some situations, a person can still get their green card in the U.S.; however, in many cases the person will have to return home for a period of time before securing their green card.

If you are eligible to apply for a green card within the United States based on marriage to a U.S. citizen, you are also eligible to apply for work permission (a employment authorization document, or “EAD”) and travel permission (“advance parole”) so that you can work and travel during the process. Permission to work and travel will generally arrive 90 days after filing your application. You cannot work (unless currently authorized to work based on immigration status) or travel until you receive your EAD/AP card. Even upon receiving this document, you should always speak with an attorney first before working or traveling outside of the United States.

Sponsoring an Immediate Relative of a U.S. Citizen

In addition to marriage to a U.S. Citizen, other family members of U.S. citizens also have a right to become permanent residents of this country (get their “green cards”) based on their relationship to a U.S. citizen. These individuals are deemed “Immediate Relatives” of U.S. citizens and are not subject to the often long waiting periods applicable to individuals in other family preference categories. These individuals include:

  • Husbands and Wives of U.S. citizens
  • Unmarried children under 21 of U.S. citizens
  • Parents of U.S. citizens (if the U.S. citizen is over the age of 21)

Other Relatives (non “immediate relatives”) of U.S. Citizens

Other relatives of U.S. citizens also have a right to become permanent residents of the U.S., but they have to wait for often long periods of time until a visa is available for them to become LPRs.  These individuals include:

  • Unmarried sons or daughters over the age of 21
  • Married children of any age
  • Brothers and sisters (if the U.S. citizen petitioner is over the age of 21)

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