One method of obtaining lawful permanent residency in the U.S. is through a relative who is either a citizen of the U.S. or a lawful permanent resident.
Family Based Immigration
There are two categories for unlimited family-based immigration:
- Immediate Relatives of US Citizens (IR) – A spouse, widow or unmarried child under the age or 21 of a U.S. citizen. This category also includes parents of adult U.S. citizens
- Returning Residents – Immigrants who previously lived in the U.S. under lawful permanent resident status. These individuals are returning to live in the U.S. after being abroad for more than 1 year.
There are 4 preference categories for limited family-based immigration:
- First Preference: Unmarried children over the age of 21 of U.S. citizens.
- Second Preference: Spouses of lawful permanent residents, their unmarried children under the age of 21; and unmarried sons and daughters of permanent residents who are 21 and older.
- Third Preference: Married children of U.S. citizens.
- Fourth Preference: Siblings of adult U.S. citizens.
For an application through either the IR category or one of the preference categories, the sponsoring relative must first submit an immigrant visa petition (Form I-130 – Petition for Alien Relative).
This form must be accompanied by proof of the family relationship.
Upon approval of the petition, the U.S. State Department will determine if an immigrant visa number is available.
When a number becomes available, you may apply for an immigrant visa if you are abroad.
If you are in the U.S., you will be able to file for Adjustment of Status (Form I-485).
Immigrant visas are always available for persons in the IR category.
In order to sponsor a relative for lawful permanent residency, you must prove that,
- You are a citizen or a lawful permanent resident of the U.S.; and
- You can support your relative at 125% above the mandated poverty line.
You must also show evidence of your relationship with your relative.