Obtaining your United States green card (permanent residence) through a family member is a multi-step process that requires the assistance of an experienced attorney. There are various categories of relatives that can petition for family members to obtain their green cards. For U.S. citizens who petition for immediate relatives to receive residence in the U.S., there is no waiting period before the immediate relatives are allowed to obtain their green cards. Under the immigration laws, immediate relatives are spouses of citizens, children (under 21 years of age and unmarried) of citizens, and parents of citizens 21 years of age or older.
For other categories of relatives, there are waiting periods before the relative is allowed to enter the U.S. These waiting periods are laid out in the Visa Bulletin, which is published monthly by the government. In order to be eligible to obtain a green card, a relative’s “priority date” (the date an immigration petition was filed for him or her) must be before or the same as the date listed for that category of immigrants on the visa bulletin. For some categories of immigrants, a relative will be required to wait years before he or she is eligible to obtain his or her green card.