Permanent immigration in the U.S. comes with a
variety of rights and privileges. One method to obtaining lawful
permanent residency is through a relative who is either a citizen of
the US or a lawful permanent resident.
There are two categories for unlimited family-based
- Immediate Relatives of US Citizens (IR): A spouse, widow or
unmarried child under the age or 21 of a US citizen. This category
also includes parents of adult US citizens
- Returning Residents (SB): Immigrants who previously lived in
the US under lawful permanent resident status. These individuals
should be returning to live in the US after being abroad for more
than one year.
There are four preference categories for limited
- First Preference: Unmarried children over the age of 21 of US
- Second Preference: 2A—Spouses of lawful permanent residents,
their unmarried children under the age of 21, and 2B—Unmarried
sons and daughters of permanent residents who are 21 and older.
- Third Preference: Married children of US citizens.
- Fourth Preference: Siblings of adult US citizens.
For an application through either the IR category or
one of the preference catagories, your relative should first submit
an immigrant visa petition, I-130 Petition for Alien Relative. This
form should be accompanied by proof of your relationship to your
Upon approval of this petition, the Department of
State will determine if an immigrant visa number is available for
you. Immigrant visas are always available for persons in the IR
category.When a number becomes available, you may apply for an
immigrant visa if you are abroad. If you are in the US, you may be
able to file an Application to Register Permanent Resident or Adjust
Status (Form I-485).
In order to sponsor a relative for lawful permanent
residency, you must prove the following:
- You are a citizen or a lawful permanent resident of the US
- You can support your relative at 125% above the mandated
You must also show proof of your relationship with