Getting a green card in the USA only means becoming a Permanent resident of the USA and it does not mean becoming a citizen. The most common way of getting a Green card is Family based Green card.
This post only talks about Family based Green card when you are an immediate relative of a U.S. Citizen.
Under Family based Green card, one should be related to the U.S. Citizen. One will be eligible to become a US National if they are related to a US Citizen in the following manner:
- Immediate Relative of the US citizen (Spouse, Unmarried Child who is under 21 years & Parent of the US citizen who is over 21 years)
- Other relative of a U.S. citizen or relative of a lawful permanent resident under the family-based preference categories.
- Fiancée of a U.S. citizen or the fiancée’s child.
- Window(er) of a U.S. Citizen.
- VAWA self-petitioner (Victim of batter or extreme cruelty).
When applying for a Family based green card, one should first prove that there exists a relation that qualifies under the immediate relative criteria. To prove this relation, a I-130 (Petition for Alien Relative) is filed with USCIS to establish the relationship between the alien and the U.S. Citizen. The I-130 can be filed from abroad or when physically present in the USA.
The USCIS approves the I-130 which means that the relation has been established. Approval of I-130 doesn’t mean that the citizenship has been approved. It only means that the close relative criteria have been fulfilled and one can then file for Adjustment of Status (I-485).
Note: Adjustment of Status (I-485) can be filed concurrently with I-130 (Petition for Alien relative). However, it depends on case-to-case basis.
If you are looking to get a green card for a family member, I advise you to retain a Counsel of an experienced immigration attorney.