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Maryland, D.C., Virginia & Florida Immigration Attorneys

Helping Immigrants Obtain Green Cards Through Family

Green card holders, or lawful permanent residents, are those who have been granted authorization to work and live in the United States on a permanent basis. You can become a green card holder in a number of different ways, but most people obtain permanent resident status either through a family member or through employment. You might be able to obtain a green card through family if you are:

  • An immediate relative of a United States citizen. Eligible immediate relatives include spouses, children who are under the age of 21 and unmarried, or parents of a U.S. citizen. Immediate relatives have a special immigration priority, meaning that they do not have to wait until a visa number becomes available to them in order to immigrate. This is due to the fact that there are an unlimited number of visas for immediate relatives.
  • A family member of a United States citizen who fits into a certain family preference category. These family members can include unmarried children over the age of 21, married children of any age, and siblings (if the U.S. citizen petitioner is older than 21 years of age). In these instances, there are a limited number of visas available to these family members. Accordingly, there is usually a waiting period before an immigrant visa number becomes available.
  • A family member of a lawful permanent resident (green card holder). These family members who are eligible can include spouses and unmarried children of a sponsoring green card holder. Again, in these instances, only a limited number of relatives may obtain a green card this way so it may be a while before an immigrant visa number becomes available.
  • A member of a specific group, including a battered spouse or child, a person born in the United States to a foreign diplomat, or the widow or widower of a United States citizen. In these cases, you can obtain a green card based on a special family situation, but the individuals who apply for green cards must first meet specific qualifications and may only be able to apply for a green card during specific time frames.


In any event, immigration law generally promotes family unity, so if you think you or a family member might be eligible for a green card based on one of the above circumstances, then it is important that you consult with an experienced Immigration Lawyer as soon as possible. An attorney who is familiar with the application process can advise you as to whether a green card through family is possible, and whether your chances of successfully obtaining a green card might be better if pursued through another avenue. Because the process of becoming a lawful permanent resident may take a while, the sooner you consult with an experienced attorney, the sooner you can obtain your green card or get in line for your immigrant visa number.

Green Card