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The following family members can sponsor you for a permanent visa:

 

(a) a husband or wife who is either a U.S. citizen or a Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR);

(b) a mother or father who is a U.S. citizen or a LPR (please note that if your parent is only a LPR and you are over 21, you must be unmarried in order to apply for a permanent visa; married children of U.S. citizens, on the other hand, are able to apply for permanent visas);

(c) a U.S. citizen child over the age of 21; or

(d) a brother or sister who is a U.S. citizen.

 

Under certain circumstances you also may be eligible to apply for a permanent visa if you are the widow or widower of a U.S. citizen who passed away within the past 2 years. 

 

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Family-based visa applicants are divided into 5 different categories:

 

(a) the immediate relative category includes (1) spouses of U.S. citizens; (2) unmarried children under the age of 21 of U.S. citizens; (3) parents of U.S. citizens who are over 21 years old; and (4) widows or widowers of U.S. citizens;

(b) the 1st preference category includes unmarried sons and daughters over the age of 21 of U.S. citizens;

(c) the 2nd preference category is divided into 2 subcategories: 2A which includes spouses and unmarried children under the age of 21 of LPR’s and 2B which includes the unmarried sons and daughters over the age of 21 of LPR’s;

(d) the 3rd preference category includes married sons and daughters of U.S. citizens; and

            (e) the 4th preference category includes the brothers and sisters of U.S. citizens.

 

bulletApplying for a permanent visa through a family member is actually a 2-step process. 

             

bulletThe first step is the filing of Form I-130 (Petition for Alien Relative) and supporting documentation. 

 

bulletThe second step is applying for your permanent visa.  The amount of time you will have to wait between the two steps depends on which category you fall into.  As an immediate relative, you only have to wait the amount of time it takes the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) to process your petition.  All other categories, however, must wait longer.  Those in the 1st preference category have the shortest wait (approximately 1 to 2 years from the time of filing Form I-130).  Those in the 4th preference category have the longest wait (approximately 11 to 12 years from the time of filing Form I-130).   

On a monthly basis the U.S. Department of State publishes the Visa Bulletin, which indicates the current waiting times.  The Visa Bulletin lists the priority dates for the cases currently being processed.  Your priority date corresponds to the date when Form I-130 was initially filed.  It is listed on the approval notice sent by the INS after your petition has been approved.  If your priority date is the same or earlier as that listed in the Visa Bulletin, you can apply for your permanent visa.  For example, if cases from the 1st preference category with a priority date of March 1, 1999 are being processed, you can apply for a permanent visa if your priority date is March 1, 1999 or earlier.  The Visa Bulletin can be accessed at the Department of State’s web site at: http://travel.state.gov/visa_bulletin.html

 

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If you are in the U.S., you may be eligible to apply for permanent resident status through a process known as adjustment of status. 

 

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Related to family-based permanent visas are the K and V visas.  Although these two visas are classified as temporary visas, they are not really temporary in nature and are only available to individuals who are immigrating to the U.S. through a family member. 

 

bulletA K visa is for the fiancé/fiancée or spouse of a U.S. citizen and their children under the age of 21 to come to the U.S. to apply for permanent resident status in the U.S.  For more information, please consult the K visa description page. 

 

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A V visa allows spouses and unmarried children under the age of 21 of LPR’s, who have been waiting for more than 3 years for a green card, to come to the U.S. while waiting to apply for permanent resident status.  For more information, please consult the V visa description page.

 

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If you think that you are eligible for a family-based permanent visa and would like my office to assist you in the application process, it is possible to arrange for a detailed consultation so that I can examine the details of your case.  Please refer to the consultation page.

 

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