Adjustment of Status Through Family

Human Rights First

U.S. immigration allows for the reunification of families, no matter where the intending immigrant is from.

It may be helpful to consult with an immigration attorney to determine your eligibility and to assist you with this complicated process.

Is my family eligible?

Citizens can petition for reunification with specific members of their families:

Green Card holders, also called Lawful Permanent Residents (LPRs), can petition for:

The first step to petition for a qualifying family member is to file a Form I-130 (Petition for Alien Relative) with USCIS.

The application requires documentation, including proof of the family relationship — like birth certificates, marriage certificates, photos, and other evidence of a qualifying family relationship.

Yes. If this is the case, file Form I-130 (above) at the same time as the Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status.

For immediate relatives of U.S. citizens

Spouses, unmarried children under the age of 21, and parents of U.S. citizens are “immediate relatives” of U.S. citizens and there are unlimited numbers of immigrant visas available for these family members. They are eligible to apply for permanent residence as soon as the I-130 is approved.

More information on getting a Green Card for immediate relatives of U.S. Citizens click here.

For other applicants

There are limits for all other people seeking permanent residence in the United States.

Children over the age of 21 and siblings of U.S. citizens, and spouses and married children of lawful permanent residents must wait for a visa number to become available before they can apply for permanent residence after their I-130 is approved.  This can take many years.

For information on visa availability and priority dates for these relatives, see the Visa Bulletin.

Generally, USCIS requests an interview for family-based petitions based on marriage to ensure that applicants did not get married simply for a green card.

In other cases, USCIS may interview applicants or issue a decision without an interview.

For certain categories of immigrants, there are limits to how many people can immigrate through a family member every year. 

U.S. Citizens

There is no limit on visas for immediate relatives — spouse and children unmarried and under 21, or parents of U.S. citizens over the age of 21.  They are eligible to apply for an immigrant visa at a U.S. consulate right away.  

Permanent residents or siblings of U.S. citizens: 

Family members, such as spouses and married children, must wait for a visa to become available, which can take many years.  

For information on visa availability and priority dates for these relatives, see the Visa Bulletin.   

For non-immediate relatives in certain categories (for instance, brothers and sisters of U.S. citizens), wait times for visa availability can be years.  

The United States Department of State’s overview of the Immigrant Visa Process: