Family Immigration

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How do I get papers for my family?

Type of Relative for Whom You May Petition Immigration Benefit Related Forms
§  Spouse

§  Children (unmarried and under 21)

§  Sons and daughters (married and/or 21 or over)

§  Parents, if you are 21 or over

§  Siblings, if you are 21 or over

Green Card (Permanent Residence) §  Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative

§  Form I-864, Affidavit of Support

§  Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status

§  A fiancé(e) residing outside the United States and children of fiancé(e) under 21 Fiancé(e) Visa §  Form I-129F, Petition for Alien Fiancé(e)

Application Process: Green Card (Permanent Residence)

To petition for a family member to receive a green card (permanent residence), you must submit the following:

  • Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative
  • Proof of your U.S. citizenship
  • Evidence of the qualifying relationship (birth certificate, marriage certificate, divorce decree, etc.)
  • Proof of any legal name change for you or the beneficiary

Spouses of deceased U.S. permanent residents (widows and widowers) may also be eligible to become permanent residents. See the “Widow(er)” page on our website.

Immediate Relatives

The term “immediate relative(s)” is used to define certain immigrant relatives of U.S. citizens. Immediate relatives include:

  • Spouses of U.S. citizens
  • Children (unmarried and under 21) of U.S. citizens
  • Parents of U.S. citizens (The petitioning citizen must be 21 or older.)

For immediate relatives of U.S. citizens, visas are always available, which means that your family member does not need to wait in line for a visa. Immediate relatives who are in the United States can file Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status at the same time as Form I-130. For more information on how your relative can apply to adjust status (i.e. get a green card) while he or she is in the United States, see the “How Do I Help My Relative Become a Permanent Resident?” guide.

Preference Categories

Preference categories apply to family members who are not immediate relatives. The visas allotted for these categories are subject to annual numerical limits. A visa becomes available to a preference category based on the priority date (the date the Form I-130 was filed). Preference categories are grouped as follows:

  • First preference: Unmarried, adult sons and daughters of U.S. citizens (adult means 21 or older.)
  • Second Preference (2A): Spouses of green card holders, unmarried children (under 21) of permanent residents
  • Second Preference (2B):  Unmarried adult sons and daughters of permanent residents
  • Third Preference: Married sons and daughters (any age) of U.S. citizens
  • Fourth Preference: Brothers and sisters of adult U.S. citizens

For current wait times, see the “USCIS Processing Time Information” page on this website and the “Visa Bulletin” page on the U.S. Department of State website. For more information on priority dates, see the “Visa Availability and Priority Dates” page.

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