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Immigration Information for Spouses or Children of Permanent Resident

A lawful permanent resident or a Green Card holder is a foreign national who has been granted the privilege of permanently living and working in the United States of America.

If you are a lawful permanent resident in the United States, you can apply a green card for your relative (spouse and unmarried children) to become a lawful permanent resident.

There are two subcategories in this immigration preference known as "second preference". Preference 2A is for spouses or unmarried children under age 21 of permanent residents, and preference 2B is set aside for unmarried children of 21 years of age or older.

A person married to a permanent resident can apply for a green card under this category. On the other hand, to qualify as a "child" in this category, the person must be the son or daughter of a permanent resident, who is unmarried. An adopted child qualifies as long as the adoption was finalized before the child's 16th birthday, the adoptive parents have legal custody of the child for two years (before or after the adoption), and the child resides with the adoptive parents for two years (before or after the adoption). A stepchild qualifies as long as the marriage had occurred before the stepchild's 18th birthday.

The annual visa allotment available for the entire second preference group is 114,200, plus any visas not used by the first preference. 77% of these annual visas go to the 2A subcategory, and the other 23% go to the 2B subcategory. Please see Visa Bulletin for the latest information on usage of the visa quota.

There are two scenarios for spouses and children of permanent residents to apply for immigration:

  • The first scenario is that the alien spouse is already in the United States in a nonimmigrant status. In this case, the permanent resident may only file an immigration petition (I-130) for the alien spouse. The alien spouse has to wait for the immigrant visa number to become current before he or she may apply to adjust to permanent resident (I-485). During this waiting period, the alien spouse needs to independently maintain a valid nonimmigrant status.
  • The second scenario is that the alien spouse is outside the United States. In this case, the U.S. permanent resident needs to file an immigration petition and request that the U.S. Citizenship & Immigrations Services (formerly Immigration & Naturalization Service) notify a U.S. Consulate in the country where the alien spouse lives. Once the immigration petition is approved and an immigrant visa is available, the National Visa Center of the U.S. State Department sends a forms and information package, "Packet 3", to the U.S. citizen. After the necessary forms are completed, the alien spouse goes to the U.S. Consulate overseas to apply for an immigrant visa. On the day that he or she enters the United States on an immigrant visa, he or she becomes a U.S. permanent resident.

For more information on spouses and children of permanent residents, please click on the following links:

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