This is the first step to a two-step process for obtaining a green card for your family. You fill all the forms and collect the evidence to prove your relationship and submit these to the US Citizenship and Immigration Service. You also have to pay the government fee. The US Immigration Service checks all your documents to make sure that you are related to the person you are sponsoring.
Most often clients ask us how long it will take to bring their family to the US. And as attorneys, we always say – it depends. It depends on how close your relationship is to your family, and what your status is in the US. It is always easier – and much faster - for US Citizens than green card holders to bring their family members into the US.
Below are the main groups of individuals who can file for their family’s green cards:
Green Card holders can file for their
Green card holders cannot sponsor their parents.
If you are a US Citizen who wants to file for your husband/wife, minor children or parents you are in the fastest process. This is because spouses, children and parents are considered immediate relatives and they get preferential treatment. There are no yearly limits on how many green cards the government will issue in this category.
If your relative is already in the US, you can file for their adjustment application (step two) when you file for the I-130 petition (step one). The Immigration Service will process both petitions together, saving many long months in the process.
If you are a US Citizen, you can also sponsor your adult children, brothers and sisters.
If you are a green card holder, you can sponsor your spouses and children.
Because the government does not consider that grown up children and brothers/sisters are as close to you as your husband/wife, parents or your young children, these categories has very low preference. This means that it take many years – sometimes over a decade, to get a green card.
Every year there is a limit for how many green cards are approved in these categories. There are also limits on how many green cards are issued to relatives from different countries every year. Because so many people from India, China, Mexico and Philippines file every year, the queue for relatives in these categories is always many many years behind for these countries.
If you are a US citizen filing for your immediate relatives, the case is processed right away. For everyone else, there is a delay. If you want to check when you can file Step II for your case, you can always go to the Department of State’s website.
The DoS publishes a Visa Bulletin each month where they list the cut-off date of the petition they are processing in every category. Your priority date is the date you filed the 130. You can find this on the receipt notice you get from the USCIS when you file the I-130.
If you had filed the I-130 before the cut-off date, you can file for adjustment or consular processing (step II). If the cut-off date on the Visa Bulletin is before your priority date, you have to wait.
If you filed a I-130 for your wife on March 1, your priority date is March 1.
If you are a US citizen, you can file for her adjustment / consular process right away. You never need to check the Visa Bulletin, because wife of a US citizen is an immediate relative. No quota or queue applies to your case.
If you are a green card holder, you have to check the date on the Visa Bulletin (cut-off date).
As attorneys we help our US citizens and green card holder clients in bringing your family members to the United States. We help you collect all the documents, complete all the forms and answer any questions the Immigration Service may have. We also help you plan the timeline so you know when your family member can be in the US with you. When we talk with you, we are always thinking of how to make the filing easier, faster, and cheaper for you. Our attorneys look at all your documents and suggest options that might make the process faster for you. We walk you through the do-dont’s after we file so your case goes forward smoothly. And we help you prepare in advance so you don’t lose any time.