Family-Based Immigration

Permanent immigration or lawful permanent residency in the U.S. comes with a variety of rights and privileges including the right to permanently live and work in the U.S.

If you want to immigrate to the U.S. through the family-based category, your relative who is either a U.S. Citizen or a Lawful Permanent Resident must sponsor you.

Procedure to Apply for Family-Based Immigration

  • Your sponsor must submit Form I-130 (Petition for Alien Relative) for you at a USCIS center, along with documentation to prove that:
    • He/She is a Citizen or Lawful Permanent Resident of the U.S.
    • He/She can support you at 125% above the mandated poverty line and fill out an Affidavit of Support.
    • You are related to him/her.
  • Once USCIS receives your visa petition from your sponsor, it will be approved or denied. In the event that the petition is approved, USCIS will notify your sponsor.
  • USCIS then sends the approved visa petition to the Department of State’s National Visa Center. The Center will notify you when the visa petition is received and again when an immigrant visa number is available. The immigrant visa numbers are allotted on the basis of the Preference Categories (described below). You can check your visa number allotment status in the Department of State’s Visa Bulletin.

Note : You need to contact the National Visa Center only if:

  • You change your address;
  • There is a change in your personal situation or that of your sponsor that may affect the eligibility for an immigrant visa for you – such as attaining the age of 21 years, marriage, divorce or death of a spouse; or
  • If you are already in the U.S. when an immigrant visa number is allotted to you, you can apply to change your status to that of a Lawful Permanent Resident. If you are not in the U.S. when an immigrant visa number becomes available, you must complete the processing of your application at the U.S. Consulate that services the area in which you reside.

Preference Categories

There are a several preference categories for allotting of immigrant visa numbers based on the status of the sponsor.

  • Immediate Allotment : Immediate relatives of U.S. citizens do not have to wait for an immigrant visa number. Once the application is approved by USCIS, they are allotted a number immediately. Immediate relatives include the sponsor’s – parents, spouse and unmarried children below the age of 21 years.
  • First Preference : Unmarried adult (above the age of 21 years) sons and daughters of U.S. citizens.
  • Second Preference : Spouses of Lawful Permanent Residents and their unmarried sons and daughters of any age.
  • Third Preference : Married sons and daughters of U.S. citizens.
  • Fourth Preference : Brothers and sisters of adult U.S. citizens. 
© Samia Chandraker 2014