Semita Legalis means “the legal path.”

How long does a family-based green card take?

Many immigrants in Missouri establish residency in the United States before attempting to get their families into the country. However, many factors determine how long the process to get a green card will take for your family members. Processing times constantly change too, but the process of obtaining green cards remains relatively the same.

Forms to complete for green cards

No matter what the relationship status is between the sponsor and the beneficiary, you’ll need to fill out two of three forms for your family member to receive a green card for immigration. The first is Form I-130, the Petition for Alien Relative to prove your family relationship. The next step involves completing either Form I-485, Application for Adjustment of Status, or Form DS-260, Immigrant Visa Application. The first form is for aliens already residing in the United States, while the second applies if your family member is still living abroad.

Generally, if you, as the sponsor, are already a United States citizen, the processing time to get a green card for your relative will be shorter than if you are a green card holder. The average time for spouses, parents, and minor children of United States citizens, ranges from 11 to 56 months, depending on the individual circumstances. Widows and widowers can apply for green card status if they file within two years of their spouse’s death and usually experience similar wait times.

Obtaining an immigrant visa and other alien statuses

For many family members, obtaining an immigrant visa may be the easiest way to establish residency in the United States. Family-based immigration for adult children and siblings of citizens or green card holders can often take years, in some cases as many as 20 years for citizens of the Phillippines or Mexico.

Although you’ll find no exact timeline for obtaining a green card, in some instances, your family member may get one more quickly if they can find another way to immigrate to the United States. Explore other options, such as employer-based immigration, so you and your family member can make an informed decision.