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Eligibility For A Green Card As An “IMMEDIATE RELATIVE”

           American immigration law is complex, detail oriented and often overwhelmingly confusing.  There are many traps that a petitioner or a beneficiary could get caught by.  Making a mistake can be very costly to try to fix.  Seeking the advice of a qualified and competent professional before taking any action is the best decision you can make. 

            One of the most common ways for immigrants to seek permanent legal residence status in the United States is to have an “Immediate Relative” in the United States file a petition on their behalf.  The petition is appropriately named the “Petition for Immediate Relative”. 

            The “closer” your relationship is with your family member, the greater the chance that you will be able to obtain a Green Card.  For example, if your family member is a United States citizen, this is often the fastest, surest way to obtain a Green Card.  There are many other advantages to obtaining a Green Card as an “immediate Relative” of a  United States citizen.  Some of these advantages include: 

            A.        Unlike many other Green Cards, your educational background is irrelevant, and 

            B.        Your spouse and unmarried children under the age of 21 are also usually eligible for a Green Card as derivative beneficiaries. 

            You may be able to obtain a Green Card and qualify for Legal Permanent Residence status if you are an “Immediate Relative” of a United States Citizen. 

            Immediate Relatives are defined as: 

            1.         Spouses of a United States citizen.  The definition of spouses includes the widows and widowers of the United States citizen if they he or she was married to the United States citizen for at least two years AND applied for a Green Card within two years of the death of the United States citizen spouse; 

            2.         Unmarried children of a United States citizen UNDER the age of 21; 

            3.         Parents of a United States citizen, IF the United States citizen “child” is age 21 or older. 

            One of the tremendous benefits of being an “Immediate Relative” of a United States citizen is that the immigrant may migrate to the United States in unlimited numbers.  In other words, unlike other status categories, there is no annual cap or quota.  And that means reduced waiting times. 

            A little known quirk is that stepparents and stepchildren may also qualify as “Immediate Relatives” if the marriage creating the stepparent/stepchild relationship occurred before the stepchild’s 18th birthday. 

            Parents and children related through adoption is an entirely separate matter.  Please see elsewhere on this site for a complete explanation of whether an “Immediate Relative” family relationship is created by adopting a foreign born child.

            Naturally, like any other Green Card holder, the immigrant who obtains the Green Card through a family member who is a United States citizen can have that Green Card revoked.  For further explanation on how an immigrant can have the Green Card taken away, please see elsewhere in this site.