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US immigration for families

Visas, Green Cards and citizenship

US immigration law allows some non-citizens, who are family members of US citizens and lawful permanent residents, to apply for a Green Card and become a lawful permanent resident themselves.

Immediate relatives – such as a spouse, an unmarried child under the age of 21, or a parent of a US citizen who is 21 or older – can apply, as can widows or widowers of US citizens. There are also other categories of family member eligible to apply:

  • Unmarried sons and daughters (aged 21 and over) of US citizens – F-1 
  • Spouses and unmarried children under 21 of lawful permanent residents – F-2A 
  • Unmarried sons and daughters (aged 21 and over) of lawful permanent residents – F-2B
  • Married sons and daughters of US citizens – F-3
  • Brothers and sisters of US citizens (if the US citizen is aged 21 or over) – F-4

Becoming a lawful permanent resident

Our expert US immigration team regularly helps families relocate to the United States, whether there’s a family member who is a US citizen or someone who is a lawful permanent resident. Whether they have yet to move, or one family member is already living Stateside and wishes their family to join them, we offer a range of specialist legal services. In addition, we can assist US citizens who wish to renounce their US citizenship.


  • Applying for lawful permanent residence status in the US (Green Card)
  • K-1 Fiancé(e) visas
  • Family-based immigrant visas
  • Removal of conditions
  • Naturalization
  • Employment Authorization Documents for Legal Permanent Residents
  • Travel Authorization Documents for Legal Permanent Residents
  • Obtaining Consular Reports of Birth Abroad and US Passports
  • Renunciation of US citizenship
  • Abandonment of Green Cards
  • Any other US immigration options that might apply – contact us to find out about potential eligibility

We work also with trusted partners in tax advice, global legal advice, and international removals, should clients require recommendations to help smooth the process of moving to the United States.

FAQs about family visas and Green Cards

Spouses, widows and widowers, children, parents and brothers and sisters of US citizens, as well as the spouses and unmarried children of lawful permanent residents, can be eligible for a Green Card. With a Green Card, they may live in the United States, and apply for employment authorization.

A US citizen may sponsor family members for a Green Card, including their fiancé(e) (K-1) and fiancé(e)’s child (K-2), spouse (IR-1), unmarried child under 21 (IR-2), an orphan adopted abroad (IR-3), an orphan to be adopted (IR-4), or a parent who is at least 21 (IR-5). The family relationship will need to be proven using paperwork such as a marriage certificate, birth certificates or adoption documents.

Lawful permanent residents may sponsor their spouse, unmarried child under 21, or unmarried son or daughter of 21 years of age or older, to obtain a Green Card.

Before you even apply for a Green Card, you can check the USCIS processing time online – you will need to input the specific form in question, the form category, and the field office or service center. After you apply for a Green Card, you can input your receipt date and use this tool to get an inquiry date, after which you will be able to submit a question about your case.

Green Card processing times are significantly longer for Family Preference categories (F-1, F-2A, F-2B, F-3, F-4) because there are only around 480,000 Green Cards available in these categories and demand far outstrips supply. If you are applying under these categories you will receive a pre-application priority date – the date your petition is received – and you must then check the Department of State’s Visa Bulletin each month, to see if your priority date has become current. Once it does, you can apply for a Green Card.

A US citizen may be able to file their Green Card paperwork for their relative abroad. Generally, they need to be living with the relative they wish to sponsor, and be lawfully present in the country in which they reside. If this is an option open to you, it can significantly reduce the processing times for your Green Card.

You will need information about the sponsor and the person being sponsored for a Green Card, including documents such as passports, marriage certificates, and birth certificates. You will also need to supply tax transcripts for the sponsor.

Green Card applications involve a number of fees. These fees may differ depending on the situation:

  • I-130 petition fee: $535 (if inside the US when applying)
  • I-485 filing fee: $1,225
  • DS-261 fee: $445
  • Immigrant Visa fee: $325
  • Immigrant fee: $220
  • Medical/vaccination fees: these can vary
  • Immigration attorney fee. Contact us for a fixed fee, no obligation quote.

While most Green Card applications are approved, some are denied. The most common reasons for Green Card refusal include not being able to evidence the legitimate nature of the relationship between the sponsor and the sponsored relative, a prior criminal history, or prior immigration violations (such as entering the US illegally or overstaying a visa). If you’ve been refused a Green Card, contact us to find out how we can help.

Yes, Green Cards may be revoked at any time if they are found to have been misused. Common reasons for revocation include committing a crime, being found to have committed fraud during the application, or moving to a primary residence outside the United States.

Expert advice on US immigration

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