How to Get a Green Card for Immediate Relatives: The Visa Application Process

The green card application process can be lengthy and confusing, but it doesn’t need to be. Here, an experienced immigration attorney shares what you need to know about the green card process for immediate relatives of U.S. citizens.

Which relatives are eligible for this type of Green Card?

As a U.S. citizen, you can petition for the following immediate relatives to receive a Green Card:

  • Spouse
  • Children: They must be unmarried and under 21 years of age
  • Parents: You must be at least 21 years of age

What is the Process for a Family-Based Green Card?

The application process for bringing your immediate relatives to the United States can take time and effort to navigate. The process is outlined below.

1. Submit the Petition for Alien Relative

As a U.S. citizen residing in the United States, you begin the process by filing Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). You can file it electronically or by mail.

USCIS must approve your petition before your case proceeds to the National Visa Center

2. NVC Processing

After your petition has been approved, the National Visa Center will create your case in their system. Once your case is created, the NVC will send your NVC Welcome Letter. You will then be able to log into the Consular Electronic Application Center to manage your case, check the status of your application, and receive messages.

3. Pay Processing Fees

Once you receive your NVC Welcome Letter, you must pay your processing fees in the CEAC. These two fees are the Immigrant Visa Application Processing Fee and the Affidavit of Support Fee. After submitting these payments, you will need to allow up to 1 week of processing before you can continue to the next step.

4. Affidavit of Support

An Affidavit of Support, Form I-864, is a document signed by the petitioner who must accept financial responsibility for the applicant coming to reside in the United States. The petitioner is also called the “sponsor.” During this step, the petitioner must complete Form I-84 and gather financial documents that show evidence of their finances.

5. Financial Documents

After completing the Affidavit of Support form, the sponsor must gather all necessary financial documents. The Financial Evidence Assistant can help you determine which documents must be submitted.

6. Online Application

After your fees are processed, you and each family member immigrating with you must complete and submit the Application for Immigrant Visa and Alien Registration (Form DS-260). After submitting the form online, please print the confirmation page and bring it to the interview.

7. Civil Documents

Next, you and each family member immigrating with you must collect all required civil documents. These documents must be issued by the official issuing authority in your country. They must be accompanied by certified translations if they are not in English.

8. Scan and Submit Documents

After you collect all your documents, you must scan, save, and submit them. The scans must be in color, in .pdf, .jpg., or .jpeg formats, include certified translations, and be easily readable.

To submit these documents, they must be uploaded into CEAC. Once you submit the documents, your case will be placed in line for review at the National Visa Center.

9. Health Check

Before your visa interview, you must schedule a medical appointment with an embassy-approved doctor. After the exam, the physician will send the results to either the embassy or you in a sealed envelope. Please bring these unopened results to the interview.

10. Gather All Documents

Before the interview, you must also register for Courier Service and gather all necessary documents for the interview.

11. The Applicant Interview

On the scheduled date and time of your interview, a consulate officer will interview you and all family beneficiaries to determine your eligibility for a green card visa. In addition, you must bring the appointment letter, passport, photographs, DS-260 confirmation page, and supporting documents to the interview.

12. After the Interview

If your visa is approved after the interview, your passport and visa will be sent to you. You must pay the USCIS Immigrant Fee after you receive your visa and before you immigrate to the United States. You need to arrive in and apply for admission to the United States before the expiration date on your visa.

Talk to the Immigration Lawyers at JAD Law

The U.S. Immigration process can be lengthy and confusing, but an experienced immigration lawyer can help you navigate the process. JAD Law is here to help. Contact JAD Law today to schedule an appointment.

JAD Law serves several counties across Metro Detroit, Michigan, including Macomb, Oakland, St. Clair, and Wayne counties.