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In the United States, one way of becoming a permanent resident is to obtain a Green Card. In these situations, many people look to their family members for help. However, family-affiliated immigration can be a complex field to navigate. If you have a family member who is looking for a Green Card, here’s what you need to know.


More than one million people receive family-based Green Cards every year in the U.S. If you have children, a spouse, or other relatives who are looking for permanent citizenship, they might be eligible to receive one too.

If you are currently a U.S. resident or hold a Green Card, the process can start with you. In this scenario, you would occupy the position of a sponsor or petitioner. The person you are seeking to sponsor would be the beneficiary.

To initiate the process, a sponsor must obtain and file Form I-130 for the beneficiary. From there, the process differs depending on whether the beneficiary is already in the U.S. or abroad.


Most family-based Green Cards issued on an annual basis go to immediate relatives. This process is not instantaneous and can take several months. Additionally, there are several subcategories depending on the relationship between the sponsor and the beneficiary.


The IR-1 category applies to spouses of current U.S. citizens. As long as the marriage is legal, the spouse is eligible to receive a family-based Green Card. Keep in mind that arranging a marriage solely for the purpose of obtaining a Green Card is illegal.


Children under the age of 21 with a biological parent who is a U.S. citizen could qualify for a family-based Green Card under the IR-2 category. 

If your children are under 21 and are adopted, they might still qualify as long as they meet the following criteria:

  • They are unmarried
  • They live outside the U.S.
  • The adoption process is complete
  • They are older than 21 but protected under the Child Status Protection Act
  • They have lived with the parents who adopted them for at least two years

If the person you are trying to sponsor does not meet these criteria, they could fall under the provisions of other categories.

IR-3 or IH-3

If you have a child who was adopted outside the U.S., you will want to look into the IR-3 or IH-3 categories. Here, the adoption must be recognized by the beneficiary’s country of origin and the U.S. Additionally, you or your spouse (the parents) must have physically made contact with the beneficiary somewhere in the adoption process.

IR-4 or IH-4

This category applies to children who are abroad but will be adopted by U.S. citizens. 


The CR-1 category offers a conditional family-based Green Card. To obtain this card, a marriage must have ended at least two years prior to the petition being filed. Before the card expires, the beneficiary must file Form I-751, which will then be reviewed. If the review is successful, the beneficiary can obtain permanent residence.

K-1 Visa

K-1 Visas apply to couples who are not currently married but want to marry inside the U.S. If the visa is granted, the couple must marry within 90 days.


If you have parents who want to become U.S. citizens, you can sponsor them as long as you are over 21 years old and are a resident of the U.S. This also applies to stepparents and adoptive parents.

Effective Assistance for Immigration Matters

If you have a family member who is trying to obtain a Green Card and need to consult an immigration attorney, contact Shannon Rosales Law, P.A. Our firm has been helping families in Miami obtain visas and labor certifications for years, including asylum cases and marriage petitions. Contact us today for an evaluation.