Family-Based Immigration ranges from bringing in immediate relatives of U.S. citizens (spouse and minor, unmarried children, and parents) to “preference” relatives in several categories (unmarried sons and daughters of green card holders and U.S. citizens, married sons and daughters of citizens, and brothers and sisters of U.S. citizens).
A person seeking a lawful permanent resident status based on the fact that he/she has a relative who is a citizen of the United States or a relative, who is a lawful permanent resident, must go through a multi-step process, as follows:
- First, USCIS approval of an immigrant visa petition by the U.S. citizen or LPR relative;
- Second, the Department of State must determine if an immigrant visa number is immediately available;
- Third, if the beneficiary is already in the United States, he/she may apply to change his/her status to that of a lawful permanent resident after a visa number becomes available for him/her. If the beneficiary is outside the United States when an immigrant visa number becomes available, he/she must then go to the U.S. Consulate servicing the area in which he/she resides to complete your processing.
To be eligible to sponsor a relative to immigrate to the United States you must be a citizen or a lawful permanent resident of the United States and be able to provide documentation proving your status.You must also prove that you can support your relative at 125% above the mandated poverty line.
If you are a U.S. citizen you may petition for the following foreign national relatives to immigrate to the United States:
- Unmarried child under 21 years old;
- Unmarried son or daughter over 21;
- Married son or daughter of any age;
- Brother or sister, if you are at least 21 years old;
- 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:
- Husband or wife; or
- Unmarried son or daughter of any age.
The relative you wish to immigrate must obtain an immigrant visa number that is based on the preference category in which they fall.The immediate relatives of U.S. citizens, which include 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 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 an immigrant 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 21), and the unmarried sons and daughters of lawful permanent residents.
- Third Preference: Married sons and daughters of U.S. citizens.
- Fourth Preference: Brothers and sisters of adult U.S. citizens.