Immigration US

40+ Facts About United States Immigration Rules For Family Members

Do you have family in the US and you plan to join them? Or you’re a US citizen who wants to bring in your family members from outside the country? If yes, then you should check out these interesting facts about US family immigration rules.

  1. If you apply for a marriage-based green card from outside the U.S., you cannot use the concurrent filing, whether your spouse is a citizen or lawful permanent resident. The Form I-130 filed by your spouse must first receive approval before you can apply for an immigrant (permanent) visa at a U.S. embassy or consulate near to you. You can then travel to the U.S. after a successful visa application process. “Concurrent filing” means submitting both Form I-130 and Form I-485 petitions to USCIS at the same time. (Source: USCIS)
  2. If you live in the United States and your spouse sponsoring your green card application is a U.S. citizen, you may file both your I-130 and I-485 at the same time when applying for a marriage-based green card. (Source: USCIS)
  3. A United States citizen may file the K-1 visa for their foreign fiancé(e) to enter the U.S., get married, and possibly reside permanently in the U.S. after the wedding. If the petition is approved, the foreign fiancée(e) will travel to the U.S., get married to their U.S. citizen fiancé(e) within 90 days of arrival. After the wedding, the U.S. citizen may file a marriage-based green card petition on behalf of the foreign fiancé(e) who is now a married spouse. (Source:
  4. When processing a U.S. marriage-based green card, if you had previously been married, you must provide proof showing that the previous marriage to your ex-spouse has been terminated by legal means. Examples of such proofs include divorce/annulment documents or death certificates. (Source: People’s Law Library)
  5. If you were married before becoming a permanent resident, and your spouse did not accompany you to the U.S., your spouse may be eligible for following-to-join benefits. Following-to-join is a process that helps you expedite the green card process for your spouse. You will NOT need to file a separate Form I-131 for your spouse. You will only need to notify the concerned U.S. consulate that you are now a permanent resident and would like to bring your spouse to the U.S. via following-to-join option. Its benefits lie in the fact that your spouse will bypass the I-130 process and will not have to wait for a visa number to become available. (Source: OIS)
  6. If you were a permanent resident when you filed a green card application for your spouse, but you have now acquired U.S. citizenship while the green card application for your spouse is still pending, you may upgrade the earlier-filed petition from F2 (family second preference) to immediate relative (I.R.) category to expedite the process. You can do this by sending proofs of your citizenship to the National Visa Center. In general, marriage-based green card filed under the I.R. category is processed much faster than F2 category. (Source: USCIS)
  7. After marrying a U.S. citizen or a permanent resident, you don’t have to wait for a particular period before you can apply for a green card. As soon as you become legally married, you can start your green card process, regardless of your location. (Source:
  8. If you are applying for a family-based green card, your priority date is the date USCIS received your I-130 petition. The date establishes your position on the green card waiting line. It determines how long you will have to wait before you can be issued a green card. (Source:
  9. Merely living together will not qualify as marriage for immigration purposes. In other words, if you are to seek any immigration-related benefits on the basis of your marriage to a U.S. citizen or permanent resident, you must prove that a bona fide marriage exists and you meet the definition for a spouse in the context of the U.S. immigration law. According to U.S. Department of State, “a spouse is a legally wedded wife or husband. (Source:
  10. If your marriage-based permanent residency status is conditional, you may still be eligible to remove conditions on your status after leaving your spouse, if you entered into the marriage in good faith and you or your child experienced extreme hardship or battery at the hands of your spouse. (Source: USCIS)
  11. As a green card petitioner, you must be at least 18 years of age and have a residence in the United States before you can be eligible to sign the Affidavit of Support Form. A green card petitioner is a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident seeking to sponsor a green card application for his or her foreign national relative. (Source:
  12. If you are a U.S. citizen and you have a pending I-130 filed on behalf of your spouse living in a foreign country, you may file the K-3 visa to bring your spouse to the U.S. in the interim. If the K-3 visa application is approved, your spouse will be able to travel down and join you in the U.S. while the I-130 is still pending. (Source:
  13. If you are in a “common-law” marriage, you may be qualified for a marriage-based visa, depending on the position of the law in the country where the common-law marriage took place. Common-law marriage refers to non-ceremonial marriage, informal marriage, or marriage by repute and habit, in which a couple may be considered legally married, despite not having a formally registered, formalized union based on any civil or religious marriage dictates.  (Source: USCIS)
  14. Approval of the I-130 petition doesn’t make a beneficiary a lawful permanent resident; it only establishes that a qualifying relationship exists between a beneficiary and a petitioner. You are not a permanent resident until you have completed all the green card procedures and are granted permanent resident status by USCIS. (Source: USCIS)
  15. Anyone born in the United States or one of its territories is a citizen. Also, someone who is born to a U.S. citizen parent is a citizen. Caveat: Children born to diplomats and other recognized government officials from foreign countries won’t receive citizenship even if they were born on American soil. (Source:
  16. If you had removed conditions on your and obtained a permanent resident card (sponsored by your divorced spouse) before a divorce happened, the divorce should not in any way affect your lawful permanent resident status, provided the marriage was entered into in good faith. (Source: USCIS)
  17. You may still be eligible to remove conditions on your conditional permanent resident status if your spouse is deceased, provided you entered into the marriage in good faith. (Source:
  18. If you enter the U.S. on a K-3 visa, you may stay in that status for up to 2 years or until I-130 has been approved and you can then apply for green cards. If after that period, USCIS has still not approved the I-130, then you are permitted to file an extension of the K-3 status. (Source: USCIS)
  19. You are permitted to work on a K-3 visa if you apply for and receive an employment authorization document (EAD) visa Form I-765. (Source: USCIS)
  20. In a polygamous marriage, only the first spouse may qualify as a spouse eligible for a marriage visa. For instance, if you have more than one spouse, you can only seek immigration-related benefits, such as a green card petition for and/or with the first spouse. (Source:
  21. When petitioning for a family-based green card, the petitioner (U.S. citizen or permanent resident) is required to file Form I-864, Affidavit of Support to demonstrate they can support the beneficiary financially with a threshold of at least 125% of HHS poverty guidelines. (Source: USCIS)
  22. The main requirements for K-3 visa eligibility are: you are legally married to a U.S. citizen, you have a pending I-130 petition filed by your spouse on your behalf, and you are residing outside the U.S. (Source:
  23. When petitioning for a K-1 visa, the U.S. citizen is required to file Form I-134 Affidavit of Support to demonstrate that they can support the fiancé(e) financially with a threshold of at 100% of the HHS Federal Poverty Guidelines. The K-1 visa is for U.S. citizens who wish to bring their foreign fiancé(e)s to the U.S. so they can get married after the arrival of the foreign fiancé(e). (Source: HHS)
  24. Petitioners of family-based green card applications must have a certain level of income to prove they are financially capable of supporting the beneficiary of the application. As a green card petitioner, if your income is below the required minimum, you may add the cash value of the assets belonging to your household or have a qualified joint sponsor may to help you meet the green card sponsorship income requirements. A joint sponsor is someone who has agreed to join the petitioner and is sharing some of the financial responsibilities required for the application. To qualify for a joint sponsor, the person must be a U.S. citizen, be at least 18 years old, be living in the U.S., and have an annual income of no less than 125% of the federal poverty level. (Source: USCIS)
  25. Petitioners of family-based green card applications must have a certain level of income to prove they are financially capable of supporting the beneficiary of the application. If you live in Hawaii or Alaska, where the cost of living is higher, the required minimum amount for green card sponsorship income requirements will be higher than other U.S. states. (Source:
  26. If you received a marriage-based permanent residency when your marriage was less than 2 years old, your permanent resident status is “conditional.” A conditional green card means you have not been granted a full-fledged permanent residency, and your status is subject to review. It is like being under probation. You will have to apply to remove the conditions within 90 days leading to the expiration of the 2-year resident status. Conditions on a permanent resident status will be removed if the applicant can prove they have complied with all the regulations attached to their status during the 2-year period. (Source: USCIS)
  27. If a divorce occurs before the 2-year period of your conditional residence, the foreign-born spouse may file Form I-751 to apply for a “good faith marriage waiver.” Under the general requirements, applicants are to apply for the removal of conditions jointly with their spouse who sponsored their green card application. However, if there has been a divorce within the 2-year period, the applicant can process the removal of conditions alone by filing the waivers. If they can prove that they entered the marriage in good faith and not for immigration benefits, the conditions would be removed, and they would get their permanent resident card with 10-year validity and without conditions. (Source: USCIS)
  28. Some family-based green card categories are quota-based (meaning there is a specific number of visas that can be issued annually under that category. (Source:
  29. Family First Preference green card (F1) for unmarried sons and daughters of U.S. citizens and their minor children has an annual numeric limitation of 23,400. (Source:
  30. Family Second Preference green card (F2) for minor children, spouses, and unmarried daughters and sons (who are 21 years and above) of lawful permanent residents has annual numeric limitation is 114,200. 77% of the green cards in this category are for the minor children and spouses (F2A), while the remaining quota is allocated to unmarried daughters and sons (F2B). (Source: IAS Services)
  31. If you are a widow or widower of a U.S. citizen, you may be eligible for a family green card if you were legally married to the deceased citizen and can prove that you entered the marriage in good faith, and not solely to get an immigration benefit. You will need to self-sponsor your green card application by filling Form I-360, Petition for Amerasian, Widow(er). If your spouse had filed an I-130 on your behalf before his or her death, it will be considered as if you had filed Form I-360. (Source: USCIS)
  32. Family Third Preference green card (F3) for married sons and daughters (of any age) of U.S. citizens, and their minor children has an annual numeric limit of 23,400. (Source:
  33. Under the United States federal Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), you may be eligible for a green card if you are a victim of extreme cruelty or battery committed by your parent or spouse who is a U.S. citizen or permanent resident. This will require you to self-petition under VAWA by filing a Form I-369 without your abusive family member’s consent or knowledge. (Source: USCIS)
  34. Family Fourth Preference green card (F4) for brothers and sisters of U.S. citizens, and their minor children and spouses, provided the U.S. citizen sponsor is at least 21 years old. It has an annual numeric limit of 65,000 (Source:
  35. The United States immigration law Section 202 prescribes that the per-country limit for preference immigrants is set at 7% of the total annual family-sponsored and employment-based preference limits, i.e., 25,620. This is why applicants from countries with more than the annual quota applications sometimes stay long on the green card queue as a result of backlogs. Examples are green card applicants from India, Philippines, and Mexico. The law also prohibits any single country from getting more than 7% of the total number of visas issued in a single year.  (Source:
  36. If you are a U.S. citizen, you may petition for a green card for your parents, stepparents or adoptive parents. (Source: USCIS)
  37. Petitioners of family-based green card applications must have a certain level of income to prove they are financially capable of supporting the beneficiary of the application. Income requirements for a green card sponsorship are calculated using the number of members of a household. The more household members a petitioner has, the higher is the required minimum amount. (Source:
  38. Family reunification has been a key U.S. immigration policy since the 1800s. In the 1920s, the law was changed to require national origins quotas, drastically reducing levels of immigration into the United States. (Source:
  39. In 1965, Congress passed the Immigration and Nationality Act, which brought some changes to the employment-based immigration quotas and national origins quotas and made it more favorable to family reunification immigration. The INA granted 74% of all permanent (immigrant) visas to family reunification categories. (Source:
  40. In recent years, Mexico, China, the Philippines, India and the Dominican Republic have sent the largest number of immigrants based on family reunification. (Source:
  41. Each year, the U.S. government issues 480,000 family-based visas. (
  42. To ensure that all family-based visas are not given to immediate relatives of U.S. citizens, Congress puts a minimum number (usually 226,000) that must be allocated through other family-based preference categories. These family preferences include unmarried adult children of United States citizens, spouses and children under 21 and unmarried adult children of permanent residents, married children of U.S. citizens, as well as brothers and sisters of adult U.S. citizens. (Source:
  43. U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents cannot sponsor extended family members such as grandparents, cousins, or uncles for green card application. (Source:
  44. Family-based  currently makes up two-thirds of all lawful permanent immigration. Each year, the number of family members requesting lawful permanent resident status exceeds the total number of family visas set by the 1965 (Source: Immigration and Nationality Act (INA)). 
  45. The immigrant visa queue has increased to about 4 million persons who qualify for family-based immigrant visas but who must continue to wait. As of January 2019, some immigrant visa petitions for relatives from the Philippines and Mexico have been waiting for 23-24 years. (Source:

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