Family-Based ImmigrationOne of our firm’s main areas of practice is keeping families together through legal representation and advocacy in family-based immigration cases. Moro Legal, LLC, can assist and advise you through the process of petitioning for permanent residence, receiving a green card, removing conditions on permanent residence, and filing for naturalization. Schedule an attorney consultation for advice on your individual situation and to learn how our firm can help you.

Which relatives can immigrate to the United States?

Certain relatives of U.S. citizens, Green Card holders (lawful permanent residents), refugees and asylees may qualify for U.S. permanent residence.

Family Members of U.S. Citizens

U.S. citizens may petition for permanent residence for their family members including: spouse of a citizen (husband or wife), children (unmarried and under 21 years old), sons and daughters (married and/or over 21 years old), parents (of citizens at least 21 years old), and siblings (of citizens at least 21 years old). Adoptive and step-family members are also recognized in this process, with some restrictions. Widows or widowers of U.S. citizens may also be eligible for permanent residence, depending on the circumstances.

U.S. citizens may also petition for permanent residence for a fiancé or fiancée residing outside the United States, as well as children of a fiancé or fiancée under age 21. The couple must have met in person within the past two years (although, in some cases, this requirement can be waived), must have a good faith intention to marry, and must be legally able and willing to get married within 90 days of the fiancé(e)’s arrival in the U.S.

Family Members of Green Card Holders (Lawful Permanent Residents)

Green Card holders (U.S. lawful permanent residents) may petition for U.S. permanent residence for family members including a spouse (husband or wife), unmarried children under age 21, and unmarried sons or daughters of any age.

Family Members of Refugees and Asylees in the United States

Those who entered the US as refugees within the last two years or were granted asylum within the last two years may petition for derivative refugee or asylee status for their spouses and unmarried children who were under age 21 when the petitioning asylee/refugee first applied for that status. However, the spouse and children must meet other eligibility criteria to qualify for derivative status.

Limitations and Quotas

U.S. government regulations impose requirements on anyone applying for permanent residence. A few of the factors that are investigated by U.S. immigration officials include traffic violations, criminal history, employment history, and prior immigration history in the United States.

Marriage-based petitioners also need to provide sufficient evidence to prove to the U.S. government that their marriage is bona fide (a real marriage).

Further, the law imposes an annual limited number (quota) of green cards for certain types of immediate relatives. Generally, U.S. citizens and Green Card holders can sponsor the following relatives without being subject to the numerical quota:

  • Spouse (husband or wife)
  • Unmarried children under age 21
  • Parents (only if the U.S. citizen sponsor is over age 21)

Other types of close relationships that are subject to the quotas fall under the following categories:

  • 1st preference: Unmarried adult children (age 21 or older) of U.S. citizens
  • 2nd preference: Spouses, minor children and unmarried adult children of Green Card holders (lawful permanent residents)
  • 3rd preference: Married children of U.S. citizens
  • 4th preference: Siblings of adult U.S. citizens

The time frame for receiving an immigrant visa depends on the preference category and the priority date (the date that the immigrant petition was properly filed). Priority dates will vary according to the U.S. State Department’s processing status for that category of visa preference and the immigrant’s country of origin. For individuals in these categories, the process for permanent residence will differ depending on whether they are inside or outside of the United States when their priority number is reached: adjustment of status inside the U.S. or consular processing in their home country. Our firm can assist with either situation.

Special Considerations for U.S. Citizenship and Family-Based Immigration

Permanent residents may petition for naturalization (U.S. citizenship) after five years in permanent resident status. However, those petitioning as spouses of U.S. citizens may request naturalization after only three years of permanent residence if they have been living with their U.S. citizen spouse during that time. Spouses of U.S. citizens employed abroad in by the U.S. military, U.S. government, or other qualifying employer may qualify to apply for naturalization in a shorter time if other requirements are met.

Contact Our Firm

Moro Legal, LLC, assists individuals and families throughout the family-based immigration process. We can provide advice on the legal options available in your situation, collect helpful evidence to support your petition, draft and file petitions, submit waivers, apply for work and travel permits, prepare and advise individuals with respect to USCIS interviews, communicate with the government on your behalf, and respond to requests for additional evidence from the government.

Schedule an attorney consultation now using our online calendar or contact our firm today for further information on how we can help with your family-based immigration case.


The content of this website is for general informational purposes only and is not a replacement for legal advice. Immigration law is a complex area of law that is constantly changing and this website cannot cover every facet of the law. Every case is different, and all individuals and businesses should consult with an immigration lawyer prior to filing any petition or application.