Family-Based Green Cards

family-based green cards

Of all the green cards issued by the United States, nearly two-thirds are reported to be family-based green cards. Clearly, family relationships offer one of the most popular ways to obtain the immigration visa you need to get a green card.

Although lawful permanent residents and U.S. citizens alike can sponsor relatives for an immigration visa, the status of the sponsor affects the priority and speed of the process.

This process can take even longer and be even more arduous when it is done incorrectly. To help avoid common mistakes that can cause an application to be delayed or denied, many sponsors and green card applicants choose to work with an experienced immigration lawyer.

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

The dedicated attorneys in the Law Offices of Luis F. Hess, PLLC understand the importance of reuniting families. If you are interested in sponsoring a family member for immigration, contact us to learn how you can get family-based green cards.

We serve clients throughout Montgomery County, Harris County, and the entire Houston metro area, including Conroe, Shenandoah, The Woodlands, and Spring.

Overview of Family-Based Immigration

Sponsors and prospective immigrants usually have many questions. Although we invite you to contact us at any time to learn how we could help with your unique situation, we offer some basic information and answers to common questions such as:

  • What are the benefits available to LPR family members?
  • How is a U.S. citizen sponsor different from an LPR sponsor?
  • How are preference categories determined?
  • Where can I learn more about family-based immigration?

Benefits Available to the Families of Green Card Holders

A green card holder, officially known as a lawful permanent resident or LPR, may sponsor certain family members to immigrate to the United States. The relatives able to become a permanent resident based on family ties to an LPR is limited to close family members. (U.S. citizens can sponsor more relatives than green card holders.) Specifically, only the spouses and unmarried children of LPRs are eligible to receive a green card based on their family ties.

To start the process of obtaining a green card for a family member, the sponsor LPR will file a petition with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). The petitioner must present documentation to conclusively demonstrate:

  • Proof of permanent resident status
  • Evidence of a qualifying relationship 
  • Proof of any legal name changes
  • Ability to provide financial support

Facing immigration concerns?

Whether you want to live in the U.S., get a U.S. visa, bring your family, get employed, or legally stay in the country, our skilled immigration attorneys are here to help!


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

A sponsor’s status as a U.S. citizen or a legal permanent resident affects the types of family members eligible for immigration and the preference category of their visa applications.

Applications with the highest status are those of “immediate relatives” of U.S. citizens. That means that if you file to sponsor a family member while you have LPR status but you later obtain your citizenship, your attorney can inform immigration officials so they can move the visa application to the highest category.

USCIS defines an “Immediate Relative” as either:

  • The spouse of a U.S. citizen
  • The unmarried child, under the age of 21, of a U.S. citizen or
  • The parent of a U.S. citizen who is at least 21 years old.

Preference Categories for Family Immigration

Family members eligible to immigrate but who do not qualify as immediate relatives are ranked in one of five preference categories. Since the number of immigration visas in these categories is limited each year, ranking in a higher preference category can reduce the wait for a visa.

The preference categories are:

  • First-preference (F1): unmarried adult sons and daughters of U.S. citizens;
  • Second-preference (F2A): spouses and unmarried children (under 21) of lawful permanent residents;
  • Second-preference (F2B): unmarried children of lawful 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 they are assigned based on the time a petition was filed. 

Other Family Visas That Can Help You Get a Green Card

To help keep families together, U.S. immigration laws allow some family members and prospective family members to obtain temporary visas to enter and stay in the U.S. until they are able to apply for a permanent immigration visa. In addition, visas are available to help certain family members and former family members in difficult situations. These other types of family visas include those for:

  • The fiancé(e) of a U.S. citizen (K-1 visa)
  • The child of a fiancé(e) of a U.S. citizen (K-2 visa)
  • The widow(er) of a U.S. citizen
  • The abused spouse, former spouse, child, or parent of a citizen (VAWA)
  • The abused spouse or former spouse of a lawful permanent resident (VAWA)

When the spouse of a U.S. citizen is waiting for USCIS to approve the immigration petition, they may obtain a K-3 visa to reunite with their spouse, and the children may enter with a K-4 visa.

Help with Family-Based Green Cards in Montgomery County, TX

While family relationships offer an excellent means to reunite families through immigration in the U.S., the complex requirements and processes involved lead to frustration and delays for many applicants. At the law offices of Luis F. Hess, PLLC,we understand what’s at stake, and we want to help you succeed without unnecessary delays.We assist clients in The Woodlands and throughout the Houston area with all aspects of immigration, including applying for family visas and investigating unusual delays. Call Luis F. Hess, PLLC at (281) 984-5294 or contact us online to learn more about how we can help you reach your goals.