Green Card for Immediate Relatives of U.S. Citizen

If you are an immediate relative of a U.S. citizen, you can become a lawful permanent resident (get a Green Card) based on your family relationship if you meet certain eligibility requirements. You are an immediate relative if you are:

  • The spouse of a U.S. citizen;
  • The unmarried child under 21 years of age of a U.S. citizen; or
  • The parent of a U.S. citizen (if the U.S. citizen is 21 years of age or older).

This page provides specific information for immediate relatives in the United States who want to apply for lawful permanent resident status 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 a widow or widower of a U.S. citizen, please see Green Card for Widow(er)s for information about how to apply for a Green Card.

If you are currently outside the United States, see Consular Processing for information about how to apply for a Green Card as an immediate relative.  

Eligibility for Adjustment of Status

If you are currently in the United States, in order to be eligible for a Green Card as an immediate relative, 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;
  • An immigrant visa is immediately available to you at the time you file your Form I-485 and at the time USCIS makes a final decision on your application;    
    • Note: A visa is always available for immediate relatives.
  • The relationship to the family member who filed Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, for you still exists;
  • None of the applicable bars to adjustment 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 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.

Bars to Adjustment

Depending on how you entered the United States or if you committed a particular act or violation of immigration law, you may be barred from adjusting status. You are ineligible to apply for adjustment of status if one or more bars to adjustment listed in section 245(c) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) apply to you. For more information, please see USCIS Policy Manual Volume 7, Adjustment of Status, Part B, 245(a) Adjustment.

Applying Under INA 245(i)

You may be able to adjust status under INA section 245(i) even if you are subject to one or more adjustment bars and are therefore ineligible for adjustment of status under INA section 245(a).  See the separate Instructions for Form I-485 Supplement A, Adjustment of Status Under Section 245(i) (PDF, 264 KB) for more information.

Grounds of Inadmissibility

To qualify for a Green Card, you must be admissible to the United States. Reasons why you may be inadmissible are listed in INA 212(a) and are called grounds of inadmissibility.

In general, USCIS can only approve your Green Card application if none of the grounds of inadmissibility apply to you. As the immediate relative of a U.S. citizen, the following ground of inadmissibility does not apply to you:

  • Labor certification and qualifications for certain immigrants (INA 212(a)(5))

If you are inadmissible, the law may allow you to apply for a waiver of inadmissibility or other form of relief. See Form I-601, Application for Waiver of Grounds of Inadmissibility and Form I-212, Application for Permission to Reapply for Admission into the United States after Deportation or Removal. If a waiver or other form of relief is granted, USCIS may approve your application for a Green Card if you are otherwise eligible.

Whether a waiver or other form of relief is available depends on the specific inadmissibility ground(s) that applies to you and the category you are adjusting under. Eligibility requirements for waivers and other forms of relief vary. For information on the grounds of inadmissibility and waivers, please see USCIS Policy Manual Volume 8, Admissibility, and Volume 9, Waivers.

How to Apply

If you are currently in the United States 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.  This is called “adjustment of status.”

As an immediate relative, you may file your Form I-485 together (“concurrently”) with the Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative filed on your behalf, while the Form I-130 is pending, or after the Form I-130 is approved (and remains valid). For more information, see our pages on Concurrent Filing and the Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative.

Immigrant visas for immediate relatives of U.S. citizens are unlimited, so the visas are always available.

What to Submit

You should submit the following documentation and evidence to apply for a Green Card as an immediate relative 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 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;

  • Certified police and court records of all criminal charges, arrests, or convictions regardless of final disposition (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 when you are in the United States, see the Instructions for Form I-485 (PDF, 545 KB). Please also see our page on Tips for Filing Forms with USCIS.

Family Members

If you are the spouse or child of a U.S. citizen’s immediate relative, you must independently qualify for a Green Card and file your own application. You cannot qualify for a Green Card as the derivative beneficiary based on the immediate relative’s application.

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.

Legal Reference

For more information, see the following:

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