Immigration Family Petitions – Green Card

The United States Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) provides lawful permanent resident benefits (green card) to certain family members of United States citizens (USC) and lawful permanent residents (residents); these are the so-called “family petitions.”

A family petition starts when the petitioner, which is the USC or resident, files an immigration petition for the beneficiary, which is the person wishing to reside in the United States. This petition must be filed with Citizenship and Immigration Services (CIS), the United States government agency in charge of processing family petitions.

Family petitions must be submitted in the appropriate forms, along with evidence of the relationship and immigration fees. When CIS receives the family petition, it issues a receipt notice (commonly known as “torch”) acknowledging receipt of the petition and the fees, and assigning a case number. Then, CIS may issue other notices addressed to either the petitioner or beneficiary until CIS decides upon the petition.

CIS may render different decisions; for instance, it may approve a family petition and issue a green card; it may deny the petition; or it may close the petition if request for evidence was demanded, but never submitted.

Green cards to be obtained through family petitions have dissimilar waiting periods depending on whether the petitioner is a USC or a resident, and the beneficiary’s preference or category.

When the petitioner is a USC filing a petition for an immediate family relative, the process to obtain the green card is shorter; usually, between five to twelve months after submitted. Immediate family relatives of USCs are spouses, unmarried children under 21 years of age, and parents. Family petitions for relatives other than immediate relatives of USC, and for relatives of residents are subject to four categories; in these cases, the waiting time to get the green card depends on the category assigned to the family petition.  The four categories are as follows:

  1. First Category:  unmarried sons or daughters of USCs
  2. Second Category:  spouses, children, and unmarried sons or daughters of residents
  3. Third Category: married sons or daughters of USCs
  4. Fourth Category: brothers and sisters of USCs.

Miami Attorney or Lawyer Martha L. Arias can help you preparing and filing your family petition. She can also attend your adjustment of status interview (the interview where CIS decides upon your family petition) with you.