Green Card for Family Preference Immigrants

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Who is preference immigrants?

Other family members eligible to apply for a Green Card are described in the following family “preference immigrant” categories:

  • First preference (F1) – unmarried sons and daughters, 21 years of age and older, of U.S. citizens;
  • Second preference (F2A) – spouses and children (unmarried and under 21 years of age) of lawful permanent residents;
  • Second preference (F2B) – unmarried sons and daughters, 21 years of age and older, of lawful permanent residents;
  • Third preference (F3) – married sons and daughters of U.S. citizens; and
  • Fourth preference (F4) – brothers and sisters of U.S. citizens (if the U.S. citizen is 21 years of age and older).

This page provides specific information for foreign nationals in the United States who want to apply for lawful permanent resident status based on a family preference category while in the United States. This is called “adjustment of status.” You should also read the Instructions for Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status (PDF, 545 KB) before you apply.

If you are currently outside the United States, see Consular Processing for information about how to apply for a Green Card as a family preference immigrant.

Eligibility for Adjustment of Status

If you are currently in the United States, in order to be eligible for a Green Card as a family preference immigrant, you must meet the following requirements:

  • You were inspected and admitted or inspected and paroled into the United States;
  • You are physically present in the United States at the time you file your Form I-485
  • You are eligible to receive an immigrant visa;
  • None of the applicable bars to adjustment of status apply to you;
  • You are admissible to the United States for lawful permanent residence or eligible for a waiver of inadmissibility or other form of relief; and

Inspected and Admitted or Inspected and Paroled

Generally, to be eligible to adjust status, you must be present in the United States after being “inspected and admitted” or “inspected and paroled” by an immigration officer. There are some limited exceptions to this eligibility requirement. For more information on this requirement, see USCIS Policy Manual Volume 7, Adjustment of Status, Part B, Chapter 2, Section A, “Inspected and Admitted” or “Inspected and Paroled”.

Eligibility to Receive an Immigrant Visa

You are eligible to receive an immigrant visa if you are the beneficiary of:

  • An approved Form I-130 filed on your behalf;
  • A pending Form I-130 (that is ultimately approved); or
  • A Form I-130 (that is ultimately approved) filed together with your Form I-485.
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How to Apply

If you are currently in the United States, an immigrant visa is immediately available to you as a family preference immigrant, and you meet certain other requirements, you may file Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status to apply for a Green Card without leaving the country. If a visa is immediately available, you may file your Form I-485:

For information on visa availability, see Visa Availability and Priority DatesAdjustment of Status Filing Charts, and the Department of State website to view the Visa Bulletin.

What to Submit (Principal Applicant)

If you are the named beneficiary of a Form I-130, you are called the principal applicant. As the principal applicant, you should submit the following documentation and evidence to apply for a Green Card as a family preference immigrant who is already in the United States:

  • Copy of the Form I-797, Approval or Receipt Notice, for the Form I-130 petition filed on your behalf (unless you are filing your Form I-485 together with the Form I-130);
  • Two passport-style photographs;
  • Copy of your government-issued identity document with photograph;
  • Copy of your birth certificate;
  • Copy of your passport page with nonimmigrant visa (if applicable);
  • Copy of your passport page with your admission  or parole stamp (issued by a U.S. immigration officer) (if applicable);
  • Copy of Form I-94, Arrival/Departure Record, or copy of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) admission or parole stamp on the travel document (if applicable)

Note: If CBP provided you with an electronic Form I-94 upon your arrival/admission to the United States, you may print out a paper version of the Form I-94 from the CBP website at www.cbp.gov/I94;

  • Proof that you have continuously maintained a lawful status since arriving in the U.S.;
  • Certified police and court records of criminal charges, arrests, or convictions (if applicable);

Note: Certain forms, including Form I-485, have a filing fee. You must submit the correct filing fee for each form, unless you are exempt or eligible for a fee waiver. Please see USCIS’ Filing Fees and Fee Schedule for more information.

For more information on applying for a Green Card, see the Instructions for Form I-485 (PDF, 545 KB). Please also see our page on Tips for Filing Forms with USCIS.

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Employment Authorization and Advance Parole Documents

Generally, when you have a pending Form I-485, you may apply for employment authorization by filing a Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization.

You may also apply for an advance parole document by filing a Form I-131, Application for Travel Document. An advance parole document authorizes you to appear at a port-of entry to seek parole into the United States after temporary travel abroad. If you need to leave the United State temporarily while your Form I-485 is pending, please see the Instructions for Application for Travel Document for more information.  Generally, if you have a pending Form I-485 and you leave the United States without an advance parole document, you will have abandoned your application.

For further information, see our Employment Authorization and Travel Documents pages.

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