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Green Card Through Family

Green Card for a Family Member of a U.S. Citizen

1.     Immediate Relatives

“Immediate relatives” of a U.S. citizen are defined as a spouse, unmarried children under the age of 21, and parents. Immediate relatives always have a visa number immediately available. To learn more, see the “Green Card for an Immediate Relative of a U.S. Citizen” page.

2.       Family Preference Category

a.       If the family member of the U.S. citizen is not an immediate relative, then the U.S. citizen may still be able to sponsor them via what is called a “family preference category.”  Eligible relatives include:

i.      Unmarried sons or daughters over the age of 21

ii.      Married child(ren) of any age

iii.      Brothers and sisters (if the U.S. citizen petitioner is over the age of 21)

b.       Congress has limited the number of relatives who may immigrate under these categories each year so there is usually a waiting period before an immigrant visa number becomes available.

3.       Get a Green Card While Inside the United States

a.       If you are currently in the United States and are one of the specified categories of relatives of a U.S. citizen in a preference category, you may be able to become a permanent resident in two steps.

 i.      Step One – Your U.S. citizen family member (sponsor) must file the Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, for you and it must be approved. You must wait for your priority date in your immigrant visa category to become current. Your priority date is the date when the Form I-130 is properly filed (with correct fee and signature) on your behalf by your U.S. citizen relative. For

ii.      Step Two – Once the priority date in your visa category is current, you may file for Adjustment of Status with Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status.  Adjustment of Status is the process you go through to become a Permanent Resident. For more information, see the “Adjustment of Status” page.

4.       Get a Green Card While Outside the United States

a.       If you are currently outside the United States and are one of the specified categories of relatives of a U.S. citizen in a preference category, you can become a permanent resident through consular processing. Consular processing is when we work with the U.S. Department of State to issue a visa on an approved Form I-130 petition when a visa is available. In this process the Department of State will issue you a visa. If approved, you may then travel on the visa and will officially become a permanent resident when admitted at a U.S. port of entry. For information on consular processing see the "Consular Processing” page.

b.      Things to keep in mind:

i.      The Child Status Protection Act (CSPA). In certain cases, the CSPA may allow you to retain the classification of “child” even if you have reached age 21. Generally, your age is “frozen” as of the date your U.S. citizen parent files Form I-130 for you. To determine if the Child Status Protection Act (CSPA) applies to you, see the “Child Status Protection Act” page.

ii.      Getting Married. If you are the unmarried son or daughter of a U.S. citizen and you get married prior to becoming a permanent resident, then you no longer qualify as an “Unmarried Son or Daughter of a U.S. Citizen” and will convert to the category of “Married Son or Daughter of a U.S. Citizen.” This change in categories may result in a significant delay in your immigrant visa becoming available. You must notify us of any change in your marital status after Form I-130 has been filed for you and prior to becoming a permanent resident or obtaining an immigrant visa. For more information on priority dates, see the “Visa Availability & Priority Dates” page.

Green Card for a Family Member of a Permanent Resident

1.       To promote family unity, immigration law allows permanent residents of the United States (green card holders) to petition for certain eligible relatives to come and live permanently in the United States.  A permanent resident may petition for his/her spouse and unmarried child(ren) of any age to immigrate to the United States. Congress has limited the number of relatives who may immigrate under these categories each year so there is generally a waiting period before an immigrant visa number becomes available. If your family relationship qualifies you as an eligible relative of a U.S. permanent resident, then you are in what is called a “family preference category.”

2.       This page discusses the steps required to get a green card for relatives of a permanent resident (in a Family 2nd Preference category).

3.       Get a Green Card While Inside the United States

a.       If you are currently in the United States and are one of the specified categories of relatives of a permanent resident, you may be able to become a permanent resident in two steps.

i.      Step One – Your permanent resident relative must file Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, for you and it must be approved. You must wait for your priority date in your immigrant visa category to become current.  Your priority date is the date when the Form I-130 is properly filed (with correct fee and signature) on your behalf by your U.S. permanent resident relative.  For more information on priority dates, see the “Visa Availability & Priority Dates” page.

ii.      Step Two – Once the priority date in your visa category is current, you may file for adjustment of status with Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status. Adjustment of status is the process you go through to become a permanent resident. For more information, see the “Adjustment of Status” page.

4.       Get a Green Card While Outside the United States

a.       If you are currently outside the United States and are one of the specified eligible categories of relatives of a permanent resident, you can become a permanent resident through consular processing. Consular processing is when we work with the U.S. Department of State to issue a visa on an approved Form I-130 petition when a visa is available. In this process the Department of State will issue you a visa. If approved, you may then travel on the visa and will officially become a permanent resident when admitted at a U.S. port of entry. For more information, see our consular processing page.

b.       Things to keep in mind:

 i.      Turning 21 years of age. If you are an unmarried child of a permanent resident, turning 21 years of age may delay the process of becoming a permanent resident or obtaining an immigrant visa.  You will no longer qualify as an “Unmarried Child of a Lawful Permanent Resident” (F2A) and will convert to the category of an “Unmarried Son or Daughter of a Lawful Permanent Resident (F2B).” This change in categories may result in a significant delay in your immigrant visa becoming available. For more information on priority dates, see the “Visa Availability & Priority Dates” page.

ii.      The Child Status Protection Act (CSPA). In certain cases, the CSPA may allow you to retain the classification of “child” even if you have reached age 21. To determine if the Child Status Protection Act (CSPA) applies to you, see the “Child Status Protection Act” page.

iii.      Getting Married. If you are the unmarried son or daughter of a permanent resident, and you get married prior to becoming a permanent resident, you no longer qualify for permanent residence through your permanent resident family member. There is no visa category for a married child of a permanent resident. Note: You must notify USCIS of any change in your marital status after Form I-130 has been filed for you and prior to becoming a permanent resident or obtaining an immigrant visa.

Permanent Resident Relative Becomes a U.S. citizen.  If the permanent resident relative that petitioned for you becomes a U.S. Citizen, your preference category would change and a visa may be available sooner.  This is because you would now be getting a green card as a relative of a U.S. citizen.  For more information on getting a green card through a U.S. citizen relative, see the “Green Card for a Family Member of a U.S. Citizen” and “Green Card for an Immediate Relative of a U.S. Citizen” pages.

Green Card for an Immediate Relative of a U.S. Citizen

1.       To promote family unity, immigration law allows U.S. citizens to petition for certain qualified relatives to come and live permanently in the United States. Eligible immediate relatives include the U.S. citizen’s:

  • a.       Spouse
  • b.       Unmarried child under the age of 21
  • c.       Parent (if the U.S. citizen is over the age of 21)

2.       Immediate relatives have special immigration priority and do not have to wait in line for a visa number to become available for them to immigrate because there are an unlimited number of visas for their particular categories

3.       For other qualified relatives that a U.S. citizen may petition for, see our Green Card for a Family Member of a U.S. Citizen page.

4.       Get a Green Card While Inside the United States

a.       One Step Process
Certain people are eligible to apply for a green card (permanent residence) while inside the United States. An immediate relative relationship allows you to apply on Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status, to become a permanent resident at the same time your U.S. citizen petitioner files Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative. For more information on filing for permanent residence in one step, see our Concurrent Filing page.

b.       Two Step Process
You still have the option to file your I-485 application any time after your petitioner files a Form I-130, for you, as long as it has not been denied. Generally, you will need to submit a copy of Form I-797, Notice of Action, with your Form I-485, that shows the Form I-130 petition is either pending or approved.

i.      Step One – Your U.S. citizen immediate relative must file the Form I-130 for you and it must be either pending or approved.

ii.      Step Two – After you receive Form I-797, Notice of Action, showing that the Form I-130 has either been received by us or approved, then you may file Form I-485. When you file your I-485 application package, you must include a copy of the Form I-130 receipt or approval notice (the Form I-797). For more information on filing for permanent residence, see our Adjustment of Status page.

5.       Get a Green Card While Outside the United States

a.       If you are currently outside the United States and are an immediate relative of a U.S. citizen, you can become a permanent resident through consular processing. Consular processing is when USCIS works with the Department of State to issue a visa on an approved Form I-130 petition when a visa is available. You may then travel on the visa and will officially become a permanent resident when admitted at a U.S. port of entry. For more information on consular processing for immediate relatives of U.S. citizens, see the “Consular Processing” link to the left under “Green Card Processes & Procedures.”  The Department of State will notify you when you are eligible to apply for an immigrant visa.  If you do not apply for an immigrant visa within one year following notification from the Department of State, your petition may be terminated.

b.      Things to keep in mind:

i.      Turning 21 years of age. When an immediate relative child of a U.S. citizen reaches the 21 years of age, he or she generally will become a “first preference” (F1) category son or daughter (over 21 years of age) of a U.S. citizen, and will no longer have a visa immediately available. This change may result in a significant delay in adjustment of status or visa processing because he or she will now need to wait for an immigrant visa to become available. For more information, see our Visa Availability & Priority Dates page.

ii.      Child Status Protection Act. In certain cases, the Child Status Protection Act (CSPA) may allow you to retain the classification of “child” even if you have reached age 21. Generally, your age is “frozen” as of the date your U.S. citizen parent files Form I-130 for you. To determine if the CSPA applies to you, see the Child Status Protection Act page

Getting Married. If an immediate relative child under age 21 gets married, he or she can no longer be classified as an “immediate relative” and will become a “third preference” (F3) category married son or daughter of a U.S. citizen and a visa would no longer be immediately available. You must notify us of any change in your marital status after Form I-130 has been filed for you and prior to becoming a permanent resident or obtaining an immigrant visa.

Battered Spouse, Children & Parents

a.      As a battered spouse, child or parent, you may file an immigrant visa petition under the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), as amended by the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA).

The VAWA provisions in the INA allow certain spouses, children, and parents of U.S. citizens and certain spouses and children of permanent residents (Green Card holders) to file a petition for themselves, without the abuser's knowledge. This allows victims to seek both safety and independence from their abuser, who is not notified about the filing.
 
The VAWA provisions, which apply equally to women and men, are permanent and do not require congressional reauthorization.

b.     Help is also available from the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 or 1-800-787-3224 (TDD). The hotline has information about shelters, mental health care, legal advice and other types of assistance, including information about filing for immigration status. For more information, visit the National Domestic Violence website.

c.       Those Eligible to File

i.      Spouse: You may file for yourself if you are, or were, the abused spouse of a U.S. citizen or permanent resident. You may also file as an abused spouse if your child has been abused by your U.S. citizen or permanent resident spouse.  You may also include on your petition your unmarried children who are under 21 if they have not filed for themselves.

ii.      Parent: You may file if you are the parent of a U.S. citizen, and you have been abused by your U.S. citizen son or daughter.

iii.      Child: You may file for yourself if you are an abused child under 21, unmarried and have been abused by your U.S. citizen or permanent resident parent. Your children may also be included on your petition. You may also file for yourself as a child after age 21 but before age 25 if you can demonstrate that the abuse was the main reason for the delay in filing.

d.      Eligibility Requirements for a Spouse

i.      Qualifying spousal relationship:

1.       You are married to a U.S. citizen or permanent resident abuser or

2.       your marriage to the abuser was terminated by death or a divorce (related to the abuse) within the 2 years prior to filing your petition, or

3.       your spouse lost or renounced citizenship or permanent resident status within the 2 years prior to filing your petition due to an incident of domestic violence, or

4.       you believed that you were legally married to your abusive U.S. citizen or permanent resident spouse but the marriage was not legitimate solely because of the bigamy of your abusive spouse.

ii.      You have suffered battery/extreme cruelty by your U.S. citizen or permanent resident spouse:

1.       You have been abused by your U.S. citizen or permanent resident spouse, or

2.       your child has been subjected to battery or extreme cruelty by your U.S. or permanent resident spouse.

  • iii.      You entered into the marriage in good faith, not solely for immigration benefits.
  • iv.      You have resided with your spouse.
  • v.      You are a person of good moral character.

e.       Eligibility Requirements for a Parent

Qualifying parent/son or daughter relationship:

1.       You are the parent of a U.S. citizen son or daughter who is at least 21 years of age when the self-petition is filed, or

2.       you are the parent of a U.S. citizen son or daughter who lost or renounced citizenship status related to an incident of domestic violence, or

3.       you are the parent of a U.S. citizen son or daughter who was at least 21 years of age and who died within 2 years prior to filing the self-petition.

  • You have suffered battery or extreme cruelty by your U.S. citizen son or daughter.
  • You have resided with the abusive son or daughter.
  • You are a person of good moral character.

f.        Filing Process

You must complete the Form I-360, Petition for Amerasian, Widow(er), or Special Immigrant, including all supporting documentation.

You must file the form with the Vermont Service Center (VSC).

If you are living abroad at the time of filing the self-petition, you may file Form I-360 if:

  1. the abuser is an employee of the U.S. government,
  2. the abuser is a member of the uniformed services, or
  3. you were subjected to battery or extreme cruelty in the United States.
  • If you are a self-petitioning spouse or child and you meet all filing requirements, you will receive a notice (Prima Facie Determination Notice) valid for 150 days that you can present to government agencies that provide certain public benefits to certain victims of domestic violence.
  • If your Form I-360, Petition for Amerasian, Widow(er), or Special Immigrantis approved and you do not have legal immigration status in the United States, we may place you in deferred action, which allows you to remain in the United States

g.       Working in the United States

i.      If you have an approved Form I-360, you are eligible to apply to work in the United States.  In addition, if you have an approved Form I-360 and have been placed in deferred action, you are eligible to apply to work in the United States. To apply to work in the United States, you must file the Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization, with the Vermont Service Center.

ii.      Your children listed on your approved Form I-360, may also apply for work authorization. For more information on working in the United States, visit our Working in the U.S. page.

h.      Permanent Residence (Green Card)

If you have an approved Form I-360, you may be eligible to file for a green card. If you are a self-petitioning spouse or child, your children listed on your approved Form I-360 may also be eligible to apply for a green card. For information about filing for a green card, see the Immigration Options for Victims of Crimes Brochure (PDF, 272 KB)

Green Card for a Person Born in the United States to a Foreign Diplomat

a.       A person born in the United States to a foreign diplomatic officer accredited to the United States is not subject to the jurisdiction of United States law. Therefore, that person cannot be considered a U.S. citizen at birth under the 14th Amendment to the United States Constitution. This person may, however, be considered a permanent resident at birth and able to receive a green card through creation of record.

b.      To determine whether your parent is a foreign diplomatic officer, your parent’s accredited title must be listed in the State Department Diplomatic List, also known as the Blue List. This list includes:

  • Ambassadors
  • Ministers
  • Charges d’affaires
  • Counselors
  • Secretaries and attaches of embassies and legations
  • Members of the Delegation of the Commission of the European Communities

c.       It also includes those with comparable diplomatic status and immunities assigned to the United Nations or to the Organization of American States and other persons who have comparable diplomatic status.

d.      For more information, refer to Section 101(a)(20), 103, 262, 264 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) and 8 CFR 101.3, 101.4 and 264.2.

e.       Eligibility Criteria

i.      You may be eligible to receive a green card (permanent residence) through creation of record if you meet all of the following conditions:

  • 1.       You were born in the United States to a foreign diplomat
  • 2.       You have had residence in this country continuously since birth
  • 3.       You have not abandoned your residence in the United States

f.        Application Process

i.      To obtain a green card, you need to file Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status.

ii.      Note: The provisions of permanent residency will not apply to you until you relinquish (give up) your rights, privileges, exemptions, or immunities which are available to you as the child of a foreign diplomatic officer. Your registration for this provision is entirely voluntary.

g.       Supporting Evidence for Form I-485

i.      You should submit the following evidence with your Form I-485:

  • 1.       Two passport-style photos
  • 2.       Form G-325A, Biographic Information, if you are between 14 and 79 years of age
  • 3.       Copy of government issued photo id
  • 4.       Copy of birth certificate
  • 5.       Copy of passport page with nonimmigrant visa (if applicable)
  • 6.       Copy of passport page with admission (entry) stamp (if applicable)
  • 7.       Form I-94, Arrival/ Departure Record (if applicable)
  • 8.       List of all your arrivals in and departures from the United States, if not evidenced above
  • 9.       Form I-508, Waiver of Rights, Privileges, Exemptions, and Immunities
  • 10.   Form I-508F, (if a French national)
  • 11.   Form I-566, InterAgency Record of Request for A, G, or NATO Dependent
  • 12.    Official confirmation and evidence you were born to a foreign diplomatic officer on the Blue List (Your parent’s diplomatic classification and occupational title at the time of your birth must be included)
  • 13.   Evidence establishing your continuous residence since birth
  • 14.   Applicable fees
  • 15.   Certified copies of court records (if you have ever been arrested)

h.      Medical Examinations

i.      You do not need to undergo a medical exam to be eligible for creation of record of your permanent resident status.

i.        Work & Travel Authorization

You are not entitled to apply for employment authorization or travel documents (granting advance permission to leave the United States and be readmitted) based on your pending I-485 application.  However, you may be eligible to work and travel based on your nonimmigrant status in the United States.

1.       Green Card Through Special Categories of Family

a.       You may be able to become a permanent resident (get a green card) through a special family situation. These adjustment of status programs are limited to individuals who meet particular qualifications and/or apply during certain time frames.

b.      For more information on the following categories of family members visit this webpages:

c.       For information on becoming a permanent resident through a family member, see our Green Card Through Family webpage.

d.      For information on other special categories that may lead to permanent residence, see our Other Ways to Get a Green Card webpage.

K Nonimmigrant

a.      K Nonimmigrant

b.      Green Card for a K Nonimmigrant

i.      The K-visa categories for fiancé(e)s of U.S. citizens and their accompanying minor children (K-1 and K-2 visas) were created to speed up the immigration process for such individuals so they could travel more quickly to the United States.

ii.      By allowing a fiancé(e) and his/her accompanying minor children to be admitted to the United States as nonimmigrants, fiancé(e)s can be spared a long separation from their intended spouse, while continuing their processing for an immigrant visa after the marriage takes place.

iii.      U.S. citizen fiancé(e)s file for their intended spouse on Form I-129F, Petition for Alien Fiancé(e).

c.       Legal Immigration and Family Equity (LIFE) Act

i.      The Legal Immigration and Family Equity (LIFE) Act amendments of 2000 added the K-3 visa category for foreign spouses and K-4 category for stepchildren of U.S. citizens.  Due to a backlog of immigrant visa petitions (Forms I-130, Petition for Alien Relative) at that time, a long separation could occur between the overseas fiancé(e) and their intended U.S. citizen spouse.  To prevent a long separation, U.S. citizens were allowed to file an additional petition on Form I-129F while their Form I-130 was pending to allow their foreign spouses and his/her minor children to come to the United States as nonimmigrants in an expedited manner.

ii.      The LIFE Act requires applicants to apply for a K-3 visa in the country where their marriage to the U.S. citizen petitioner occurred, or in the event the petitioner and applicant were married in the United States, the country of the applicant’s current residence. After arrival in the United States, they could then complete their processing for permanent residence.

iii.      All K nonimmigrants are required to file Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence and Adjust Status, after arrival to adjust status as a permanent resident of the United States.

iv.      K nonimmigrants may only adjust status as a permanent resident through the same U.S. citizen (fiancé(e), spouse, or stepparent) that petitioned for them to receive their K visa status.

d.      Eligibility Criteria

i.      You may be eligible to receive a green card as a K nonimmigrant fiancé(e), spouse, or his/her minor child if you:

  • 1.       Are the beneficiary of an immigrant visa petition that was filed by a U.S. citizen for their spouse or fiancé(e), or the minor children of that spouse/fiancé(e)
  • 2.       Have been admitted to the United States as a K Nonimmigrant
  • 3.       Met the requirement to marry the U.S. citizen fiancé(e) within 90 days of entry, if a K-1 visa holder
  • 4.       Are eligible to adjust status as the spouse or child of a U.S. citizen, or the minor child of a K-1 visa holder
  • 5.       Have an immigrant visa immediately available
  • 6.       Are admissible to the United States

e.       Application Process

i.      If you entered the United States as a fiancé(e) of a U.S. citizen (K-1), child of a fiancée of a U.S. citizen (K-2), or the spouse or child of a U.S. citizen (K-3 or K-4)  you will have to file for adjustment of status in order to get your green card and to remain legally in the United States.

ii.      To obtain a green card, you need to file Form I-485.

f.        If You are Present in the United States as a K-1 Fiance(e)

 i.      You should apply for adjustment as soon as you marry your fiancé(e). By law and regulations, you are required to marry the U.S. citizen who petitioned for you within 90 days of your admission to the United States in K-1 status. If you fail to marry, you will become removable from the United States and cannot adjust through any other means.

g.       If You are Present in the United States as K-2, the Minor Child of a K-1 Fiance(e)

 i.      You should seek adjustment of status at the same time as your parent (K-1) since your reason to adjust, in general, depends on your parent's eligibility to adjust. There are some special rules as to how long you can seek adjustment. Please refer to the related sections below under “Other considerations” for additional information.

h.      If You Seek Adjustment as a K-3, Spouse of a U.S. Citizen

i.      You may seek adjustment as soon as you enter the United States. You can only seek adjustment of status based on your marriage to the U.S. citizen spouse who also petitioned for K-3 status for you.

ii.      Note: You may obtain an extension of your K-3 status in 2-year intervals, while your adjustment of status application is pending. You should, at the same time, apply for an extension of the K-4 status for your child. Refer to 8 CFR 214.2(k)(8) for additional information.

i.        If You Seek Adjustment as a K-4, Child of the K-3 Spouse of a U.S. citizen

 i.      You should seek adjustment of status as soon as your parent seeks adjustment of status. You can only seek adjustment of status on the basis of the marriage of your K-3 parent to his/her U.S. citizen spouse or the stepparent-child relationship this marriage caused and upon which your I-130 is based. See 8 CFR 245.1(c)(6)(ii) for additional information.

j.        Supporting Evidence for the Form I-485

 i.      You should submit all of the following evidence and documentation with your application:

  • 1.       Two passport-style photos
  • 2.       Form G-325A, Biographic Information
  • 3.       Copy of your government issued photo identification
  • 4.       Copy of your birth certificate
  • 5.       Copy of passport page with nonimmigrant visa
  • 6.       Copy of passport page with admission (entry) or parole stamp
  • 7.       Form I-94, Admission/Departure Record
  • 8.       Evidence of your marriage to the U.S. citizen within 90 days (for K-1s)
  • 9.       Form I-693, Report of Medical Examination and Vaccination Record, if applicable
  • 10.   Form I-864, Affidavit of Support
  • 11.   Copy of approved Form I-130 or Form I-797, Notice of Action, if Form I-130 is pending (if K-3 or K-4)
  • 12.   Copies of any other approved application or waiver you have had in relation with your application for K status (Approved Form I-129F, Form I-601, Application for Waiver of Excludability, etc.)
  • 13.   Applicable filing fees

 ii.      Note: Those applying based on K-1 or K-2 status will not need a Form I-130 filed on their behalf. However, a K-2 stepchild may have a Form I-130, Immediate Relative Petition, filed on his/her behalf if eligible and necessary to prevent age-out concerns.  Read “Other Considerations” below for further information.

k.       Medical Examination

 i.      If you received a medical examination prior to admission as a K nonimmigrant, then you are not required to have another medical examination at time of adjustment as long as:

1.       Your Form I-485 is filed within 1 year of your overseas medical examination

2.       The medical examination did not reveal a Class A medical condition

3.       If you did have a Class A medical condition, you received a waiver of inadmissibility and you have complied with the terms and conditions of the waiver

ii.      Even if a new medical examination is not required, you still must show proof that you have complied with the vaccination requirements. If the vaccination record (DS 3025) was not properly completed and included as part of the original, overseas medical examination report, you will have to have the vaccination report completed by a designated civil surgeon. In this case, you are required to submit Part 1, Information About You, Part 2, the vaccination chart, and Part 5, the Civil Surgeon's Certification, of Form I-693 (in an envelop sealed by the civil surgeon). Please see the instructions for Form I-693 (PDF, 291 KB) for further information.

l.        Other Considerations

i.      Special Considerations When Seeking Adjustment of Status as a K-2

1.       The Section 101(b)(1) of the Immigration and Nationality Act defines a "child" as "an unmarried person under twenty-one years of age."  Generally, a K-2 can seek adjustment of status as the minor child of a K-1. Therefore, if the K-2 adjusts status based on the K-1's adjustment, then the K-2 can only adjust status prior to his or her 21st birthday. Several recent developments may impact a K-2s ability to seek adjustment beyond the age of 21.

2.       If you should attain the age of 21 years while your Form I-485 is pending, you may be covered under the Child Status Protection Act of 2002 (CSPA) (see information below).

ii.      K-2/K-4 Adjustment of Status as the Step-Child of the U.S. Citizen & CSPA

1.       In 2002, Congress passed the Child Status Protection Act of 2002 to permit an applicant for certain immigration benefits to retain the classification as a "child" under Section 101(b)(1) of the INA even if he or she reaches the age of 21. For more information, please see our “Child Status Protection Act” page.

iii.      Limited CSPA Coverage for K-2s

1.       An individual in K-2 status does not generally have a visa petition (Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative) filed by the U.S. citizen petitioner, which is required in order for CSPA provisions to be applicable. Therefore, a K-2 nonimmigrant cannot utilize the CSPA when seeking to adjust status.  A K-2, absent any different circumstance, may only seek adjustment until he or she reaches his 21st birthday and must adjust prior to his/her 21st birthday.

2.       Although not required, USCIS may accept a Form I-130 filed by the U.S. citizen petitioner based on a parent-child relationship between the petitioner and the K-2 nonimmigrant (for example, when the U.S. citizen petitioner has married the K-1, and the K-2 was not yet 18 years old at that time. In this case, the K-2 is considered the step-child of the U.S. citizen under the law). This will allow an individual who once was a K-2 to adjust on the basis of being an immediate relative of a U.S. citizen, and allow him or her to utilize the CSPA when seeking adjustment of status (that is, not age out while his/her Form I-485 is pending).

3.       Exercising this option requires:

a.       An existing parent-child relationship between the U.S. citizen petitioner and the K-2 nonimmigrant

b.       Filing of Form I-130 prior to the K-2’s 21st birthday

c.       Submitting all required documentation and paying the required fees associated with Forms I-130 and I-485

iv.      CSPA Coverage of K-4s

1.       An individual in K-4 status may utilize the provisions of CSPA upon seeking adjustment of status because a K-4 nonimmigrant seeks to adjust as an immediate relative of a U.S. citizen on the basis of a Form I-130 filed by his or her U.S. citizen step parent. See 8 CFR 245.1(i) for further information.

This petition can only be filed if a parent-child relationship between the U.S. citizen and the K-4 nonimmigrant exists and the marriage between the U.S. citizen and the K-4’s parent occurred before the child’s 18th birthday. Since the K-4 child’s age “freezes” on the date the Form I-130 is filed, a K-4 benefits from the CSPAas long as the Form I-130 petition is filed before the K-4’s 21st birthday.

V Nonimmigrant

a.       Green Card for a V Nonimmigrant

i.      The Legal Immigration Family Equity (LIFE) Act provisions of 2000 created the V nonimmigrant category that allow the spouse or child of a permanent resident to live and work in the United States while waiting to obtain immigrant status. To qualify for a V visa, the spouse or child of the permanent resident needs a Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, filed on their behalf on or before December 21, 2000 by the permanent resident relative. The spouse or child also must have been waiting for at least 3 years after the form was filed for their immigrant status—either because a visa number was not available or because we had not yet adjudicated the Form I-130 or Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status. In most cases, V nonimmigrants will eventually adjust status as the spouse or child of a permanent resident when a visa number becomes available and the Form I-130 and Form I-485 have been adjudicated.

ii.      For more information, see Sections 101(a)(15)(V), 214(q) and 245 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) and 8 CFR 214.15, 245 and 248.

b.      Eligibility Criteria

i.      You may be eligible to receive a green card as a V nonimmigrant if you:

  • 1.       Are the beneficiary (as the spouse or child) of an immigrant visa petition that was filed by a permanent resident by December 21, 2000
  • 2.       Obtained V status either in the United States or abroad and have continuously maintained your status while in the United States
  • 3.       Continue to remain eligible to adjust status as the spouse or child of a permanent resident (or U.S. citizen, if your spouse or parent has now naturalized)
  • 4.       Have an immigrant visa immediately available
  • 5.       Are admissible to the United States

c.       Application Process

i.      To obtain a green card, you need to file Form I-485.

d.      Supporting Evidence for the Form I-485

i.      You should submit the following evidence and documentation with your application:

  • 1.       Two passport-style photos
  • 2.       Form G-325A, Biographic Information
  • 3.       Copy of government issued photo identification
  • 4.       Copy of birth certificate
  • 5.       Copy of passport page with nonimmigrant visa (if applicable)
  • 6.       Copy of passport page with admission (entry) or parole stamp (if applicable)
  • 7.       Form I-94, Admission/Departure record (if applicable)
  • 8.       Form I-693, Report of Medical Examination and Vaccination Record
  • 9.       Form I-864, Affidavit of Support
  • 10.   Form I-797, Notice of Action, showing the date you were granted V nonimmigrant status (based on Form I-539, Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status)
  • 11.   Form I-797, Notice of Action, as evidence of the Form I-130 approval letter or receipt notice
  • 12.   Applicable filing fees

e.       Medical Examinations

i.      If you received a complete medical exam conducted by either a Panel Physician overseas or a Civil Surgeon within the United States prior to receiving your V visa, you are not required to have another medical exam if your Form I-485 is filed within one year of your medical exam. You will, however, be required to submit the vaccination portion of Form I-693, which will be completed by a Civil Surgeon. See the filing instructions for Form I-693 for further information.

f.        Requirements for Travel Outside the United States While Your FormI-485 is Pending

You do not need to file for advance parole prior to traveling abroad while your Form I-485 is pending; however, you must obtain a V visa from a consular office abroad in order to be readmitted to the United States as a V nonimmigrant. Departure from the United States at any time after having accrued more than 180 days of unlawful presence will render you inadmissible to the United States to adjust status unless you obtain a waiver. Therefore, before traveling outside the United States while your Form I-485 is pending, please carefully consider any possible consequences.

Widow(er)

a.       Green Card for a Widow(er) of a U.S. Citizen

                                                               i.      Widows or widowers who were married to U.S. citizens at the time of the citizen’s death may apply for a green card.

                                                             ii.      Until October 28, 2009, you had to have been married to the deceased citizen for at least two years at the time of the deceased citizen’s death, in order to immigrate as the widow(er) of a citizen.  Congress removed this requirement, effective October 28, 2009.

                                                           iii.      To immigrate as the widow(er) of a citizen, you must prove that you were legally married to the citizen, and that you entered the marriage in good faith, and not solely to obtain an immigration benefit.

b.      Widow(er) With Pending or Approved Immigrant Petition

                                                               i.      If you were married to a U.S. citizen who had filed Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative for you before he or she died, you do not need to file anything.  The Form I-130 will be automatically converted to a Form I-360, Petition for Amerasian, Widow(er), or Special Immigrant.  If you have children (unmarried and under age 21), they may be included on the Form I-360 regardless of whether your deceased spouse had filed a petition for them.

                                                             ii.      To qualify, you must not have have been divorced or legally separated from the U.S. citizen at the time of death.  Your eligibility to immigrate as a widow(er) ends if you have remarried. 

c.       Widow(er) Without a Pending or Approved Immigrant Petition

                                                               i.      If you were married to U.S. citizen before the citizen’s death, but had no I-130 petition filed on your behalf, you can self-petition as an “immediate relative” on Form I-360, Petition for Amerasian, Widow(er), or Special Immigrant.

                                                             ii.      To qualify, you must not have been divorced or legally separated from the U.S. citizen at the time of death.  Your eligibility to immigrate as a widow(er) ends if you have remarried. You must file within 2 years of the citizen’s death.

                                                           iii.      If your citizen spouse did not have a Form I-130 pending at the time of death, you must file the Form I-360 no more than 2 years after the death of your citizen spouse.

                                                           iv.      If, however, you were married less than 2 years, and your citizen spouse died before October 28, 2009, you must file your Form I-360 no later than October 28, 2011.

d.      Widow(er) of a U.S. Military Member

                                                               i.      For surviving spouses of deceased U.S. military members who were killed in combat, there are separate immigration benefits under section 1703 of Public Law 108-136.  Individuals in these categories may self-petition for “immediate relative” status on Form I-360.

e.       Eligibility Criteria

                                                               i.      You may be eligible to receive a green card through widow/widower status if you:

1.       Were married to a U.S. citizen at the time he or she passed away

2.       Either have a pending or approved Form I-130 or you have filed a Form

3.       I-360 within 2 years of your spouse’s death (or no later than October 28, 2011, if your citizen spouse died before October 28, 2009, and you were married less than 2 years).

4.       Are not remarried

5.       Were not divorced or legally separated from your spouse at the time he or she died

6.       Are able to prove that you were in a bona fide marital relationship until thetime of your spouse’s death

7.       Are admissible to the United States

f.        Application Process

                                                               i.      To obtain a green card, you need to file Form I-360, Petition for Amerasian, Widow(er), or Special Immigrant, with all required documents as listed in the form instructions. If your spouse filed Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, before his or her death, we will consider the petition as if you had filed an I-360.

g.       If You Live in the United States

                                                               i.      You may file Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status, either at the same time you file your Form I-360 or after you file the Form I-360 whether it is pending or approved.  If you already filed Form I-485 based on the petition filed by your spouse, USCIS will continue to process this application and you do not need to file another one.

h.      If You Live Outside of the United States

                                                               i.      Your approved petition will be forwarded overseas to the U.S. embassy or consulate that has jurisdiction over where you live. For more information, see the “Consular Processing” page.

i.        Supporting Evidence for the Form I-485

                                                               i.      You should submit the following evidence/documentation with your application:

1.       Two passport-style photos

2.       Form G-325A, Biographic Information (if between the ages of 14 through 79)

3.       Copy of your birth certificate

4.       Copy of your passport page with nonimmigrant visa (if applicable)

5.       Copy of passport page with admission (entry) or parole stamp (if applicable)

6.       Form I-94, Arrival/Departure Record (if applicable)

7.       Form I-693, Report of Medical Examination and Vaccination Record

8.       Form I-130 receipt notice or approval letter (Form I-797), if applicable; or

9.       Form I-360 with all required documents, if filing at the same time (concurrently) with Form I-485

10.   If not filing concurrently, Form I-360 receipt notice or approval letter (Form I-797)

j.        Medical Examination

                                                               i.      You will need to undergo a medical exam to be eligible for adjustment as an immediate relative. To locate a civil surgeon near you, see the “Find a Medical Doctor” page.

k.       Children of Widow(er) of a U.S. Citizen

                                                               i.      Your unmarried children under the age of 21 (known as “derivatives”) may be included on your immigration petition.

                                                             ii.      As “immediate relatives,” your derivative children are granted benefits of the Child Status Protection Act, which “freezes” their ages as of the date of the principal’s filing of Form I-130 or I-360, whichever is applicable. This provision prevents them from aging-out if they turn 21 prior to adjudication of their adjustment-of-status or visa application. They must, however, continue to meet any other additional filing requirements.  For more information, see our page on the Child Status Protection Act.

l.        Work & Travel Authorization

                                                               i.      Generally, when you have a pending Form I-485, it is possible for you to apply for authorization to work in the United States and to seek advance parole (advance permission to travel and be admitted to the United States upon your return). For further information, see the “Work Authorization” and “Travel Documents” pages.

m.    What the Law Says

For further information, see sections 201(b)(2)(A)(i) and 204(a)(1)(A) of the Immigration Nationality Act (INA) and 8 CFR 204.2(i)(1)(iv) and 245.