Ways to Get Green Cards

Green Cards Through Family


Immediate Relatives of U.S. Citizens

Spouses, parents and unmarried children (under the age of 21) of U.S. citizens qualify as immediate relatives. 

The advantage of being placed in this category is that there are no quota restrictions on number of applicants. Therefore, they get green cards relatively quickly as compared to some other categories. The typical processing time for such applications is between 6 and 12 months. 

To qualify as an immediate relative child (unmarried sons and daughters of U.S. citizen), the child must be under 21 years old and unmarried. If the visa petition is filed before the child's 21st birthday, the child may still qualify for a green card even if s/he "ages out" and attains the age of 21 years due to application processing delays.

It is noteworthy that unmarried does not mean never married. Therefore, to qualify as unmarried, the child may be divorced or widowed. Moreover, as long as s/he is under 21 and unmarried, the child's children (grandchildren of U.S. citizen petitioner) may also qualify to immigrate at the same time as their parent. 

Other relative of a U.S. citizen or relative of a LPR under the family-based preference Categories

Family member of a U.S. citizen: 

  • Unmarried son or daughter of a U.S. citizen and you are 21 years old or older; 
  • Married son or daughter of a U.S. citizen; 
  • Brother or sister of a U.S. citizen who is at least 21 years old.

Family member of a lawful permanent resident:  

  • Spouse of a lawful permanent resident; 
  • Unmarried child under the age of 21 of a lawful permanent resident; 
  • Unmarried son or daughter of a lawful permanent resident 21 years old or older.  

Widow(er) of a U.S. citizen

Widow or widower of a U.S. citizen and you were married to your U.S. citizen spouse at the time your spouse died. 

VAWA self-petitioner – victim of battery or extreme cruelty

  • Abused spouse of a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident.
  • Abused child (unmarried and under 21 years old) of a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident.
  • Abused parent of a U.S. citizen  

Visas for Spouses and Children of U.S. Ciitzens


K-3 Visas for spouses of U.S. Citizens

U.S. Citizens residing in the U.S. may shorten the amount of time they remain separated from their spouses and children under 21 years of age with K-3 and K-4 visas respectively. The children get the visa at the same time the spouse's petition is approved. 

Required Documents

  1. Birth Certificate
  2. Current Marriage Certificate
  3. Past Divorce/Death of Spouse Certificates
  4. Medical Examination
  5. Police Certificates
  6. Valid Passport for Travel
  7. Form DS-160 (Online Non-Immigrant Visa Application
  8. Two 2x2 Photographs
  9. Evidence of Relationship with the U.S. Citizenship Spouse
  10. Evidence of Financial Support may be required

K-1 Fiancé(e) Visa



U.S. Citizens who plan to get married in the United States can apply for a K-1 for their fiancé(e) living abroad. The Visa allows the fiancé(e) to enter the United States for 90 days to have the marriage ceremony in the United States.


Evidence Required for Fiancé(e) Visa 

  1. Photographs: One each of Petitioner and Beneficiary. 
    1. Passport size 
  2. Proof of your U.S. Citizenship.
    1. Birth Certificate
    2. Naturalization Certificate
    3. FS-240 Report of Birth Abroad
    4. Unexpired U.S. Passport with validity of 5 years or more
  3. Proof or original statements of intent to marry within 90 days of entry from both you and your fiancé(e).
    1. Statements signed by both Petitioner and Beneficiary; AND/OR
    2. Any other evidence that establishes mutual intention to marry
  4. Proof of legal termination of all prior marriages for both you and your fiancé(e).
    1. Divorce decree (certified copy from court)
    2. Death certificate (if prior spouse is deceased)
    3. Annulment 
  5. Proof that you and your fiancé(e) have met in person within two years before filing. 
    1. Written statement from you and/or your fiancé(e) stating the circumstances of your meeting
    2. Attach evidence to demonstrate that you were in each other’s physical presence during the required two year period. E.g.,
      1. Passport entry exit stamps
      2. Visa stamp on Passport
      3. Photographs
      4. Airline tickets
  6. Certified English translations of any non-English documents. Translator must certify that:
    1. Translation is complete and accurate
    2. Competent to translate from foreign language to English
    3. Date, signature, printed name, and contact info of translator. 
  7. Waiver of in-person meeting within preceding two years of filing this petition due to (a) hardship, or (b) long established customs of fiancé(e)’s foreign culture or social practice:
    1. Evidence may include things like
      1. medical records,
      2. statements from religious leaders, or 
      3. evidence of immediate danger.
  8. If you met through an International Marriage Broker:
    1. Provide a copy of the signed, written consent form that the IMB obtained from your fiancé(e) beneficiary that authorized the release of the beneficiary’s personal contact information to you. 
    2. If the consent form is written in any language other than English, you must provide a certified English translation with the form.
  9. Criminal History Documents: Provide information that explains the circumstances, places, dates, and outcomes for each incident of arrest, citation, charge, indictment, conviction, fine, or imprisonment
    1. Submit court certified copies of the arrest record and/or disposition for each incident (even if expunged, sealed, etc.); OR
    2. Submit a certified statement from the court indicating that no record exists of your arrest, citation, charge, indictment, conviction, fine, or imprisonment.
    3. Note: you must submit certified copies of all court and police records showing the charges and disposition for every arrest or conviction. You must do so even if your records were sealed, expunged, or otherwise cleared, and regardless of whether anyone, including a judge, law enforcement officer, or attorney, informed you that you no longer have a criminal record.

Note: If you committed violent criminal offenses against a person or persons, but were battered or subjected to extreme cruelty by a family member or intimate partner at the time you committed your violent offenses, and you were not the primary perpetrator of violence in the relationship, you may still be eligible for a waiver if USCIS determines that you violated a protection order intended for your protection; you were acting in self-defense; or you committed, were arrested for, were convicted of, or pleaded guilty to committing a crime that did not result in serious bodily injury and there was a connection between the crime committed and you having been battered or subjected to extreme cruelty

Examples of such evidence may include, but are not limited to: police reports, court records, news articles, trial transcripts, evidence you acted in self-defense, evidence you were a victim of abuse or battery, evidence you violated a protection order intended for your protection, and any credible evidence that is relevant to your request for a waiver

You must submit evidence explaining the reasons for your multiple filings, as well as evidence to support a finding that you qualify for a mandatory waiver based on being subjected to battery or extreme cruelty.  USCIS cannot approve your petition unless a waiver of the multiple-filing limitation is granted.

Contact Us

Law Office of Jagat Kooner, J.D.

343 East Main Street Suite 310 Stockton CA 95202 USA

Phone: 209.565.3979; Fax: 209.336.0176

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