lawful permanent resident is a foreign national who has been granted
the privilege of permanently living and working in the United
States. If you want to become a lawful permanent resident based
on the fact that you have a relative who is a citizen of the United
States or a relative who is a lawful permanent resident, you must
go through a multi-step process.
First, the USCIS must approve
an immigrant visa petition, I-130 Petition for Alien Relative for
you. This petition is filed by your relative (sponsor) and must
be accompanied by proof of your relationship to the requesting relative.
Second, the Department of State
must determine if an immigrant visa number is immediately available
to you, the foreign national, even if you are already in the United
States. When an immigrant visa number becomes immediately available
to you, it means that you can apply to have one of the immigrant
visa numbers assigned to you. You can check the status of a visa
number in the Department of State's Visa Bulletin.
Third, if you are already in
the United States, you may apply to change your status to that of
a lawful permanent resident after a visa number becomes available
for you. This is one way you can apply to secure an immigrant visa
number. If you are outside the United States when an immigrant visa
number becomes available for you, you must then go to the U.S. consulate
servicing the area in which you reside to complete your processing.
This is the other way in which you can apply to secure an immigrant
To be eligible to sponsor a
relative to immigrate to the United States you must meet the following
- You must be a citizen or
a lawful permanent resident of the United States and be able to
provide documentation proving your status, and
- You must prove that you can
support your relative at 125% above the mandated poverty line.
If you are a US Citizen you
may petition for the following foreign national relatives to immigrate
to the United States; however you must be able to provide proof
of the relationships:
- Husband or wife;
- Unmarried child under 21
- Unmarried son or daughter
- Married son or daughter of
- Brother or sister, if you
are at least 21 years old; or
- Parent, if you are at least
21 years old.
If you are a lawful permanent
resident you may petition for the following foreign national relatives
to immigrate to the United States; however you must be able to provide
proof of the relationships:
- Husband or wife; or
- Unmarried son or daughter
of any age.
To be eligible for lawful permanent
residence based on a family relationship you must meet the following
- You must have a relative
who is a United States citizen or a lawful permanent resident
of the United States who can provide documentation proving their
status and is willing to sponsor you for lawful permanent residency
by filing the I-130, Petition for Alien Relative.
- Your relative must prove
they can support you by providing documentation that their income
is 125% above the mandated poverty line for their family, including
you and all other sponsored family members. If your relative is
a US Citizen and they can legally prove you share one of the following
relationships, you may be eligible for lawful permanent residency,
please see below for preference category information.
The relative you wish to immigrate
must obtain a visa number that is based on the preference category
in which they fall.
People who want to become immigrants
are classified into categories based on a preference system. The
immediate relatives of U.S. citizens, which includes parents, spouses
and unmarried children under the age of 21, do not have to wait
for an immigrant visa number to become available once the visa petition
filed for them is approved by the USCIS. An immigrant visa number
will be immediately available for immediate relatives of U.S. citizens.
The relatives in the remaining categories must wait for a visa number
to become available according to the following preferences:
- First Preference: Unmarried,
adult sons and daughters of U.S. citizens. Adult means 21 years
of age or older.
- Second Preference: Spouses
of lawful permanent residents, their unmarried children (under
twenty-one), and the unmarried sons and daughters of lawful
- Third Preference: Married
sons and daughters of U.S. citizens.
- Fourth Preference: Brothers
and sisters of adult U.S. citizens.
Once USCIS receives your visa
petition, I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, it will be approved
or denied. USCIS will notify the person who filed the visa petition
if the visa petition is approved. USCIS will then send the approved
visa petition to the Department of State's National Visa Center,
where it will remain until an immigrant visa number is available.
The Center will notify you, the foreign national, when the visa
petition is received and again when an immigrant visa number is
available. You do not need to contact the National Visa Center,
unless you change your address or there is a change in your personal
situation, or that of your alien relative, that may affect eligibility
for an immigrant visa, such as reaching age 21, marriage, divorce,
or death of a spouse.