Permanent resident status, symbolized to many people by the so-called "Green Card" (which can actually be pink or light blue, depending on the edition), confers on foreign nationals the right to live and work in the United States without time limitations. Although there are several other bases for obtaining permanent residence, eg. the diversity immigration program created by the 1990 Act, the two most common are through close family ties to US citizens or other permanent residents, or through employment in the United States, usually based on a job offer from a US employer.
To be eligible to sponsor a relative to immigrate to the United States you must meet the following criteria. 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 prove that you can support your relative at 125% above the mandated poverty line. Click here to find out more information about meeting this criteria and filing the Affidavit of Support.
If you are a US Citizen you may petition for the following foreign national relatives to immigrate to the United States; however you must be able to provide proof of the relationships.
Husband or wife.
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; however you must be able to provide proof of the relationships.
Husband or wife or Unmarried son or daughter of any age.You must be able to provide documentation proving your status and must be willing to sponsor your relative for a lawful permanent residency by filing the I-130, Petition. Your must prove that you can support your relative by providing documentation that your income is 125% above the mandated poverty line for their family, including the alien relative and all other sponsored family members. Click here to find out more information about meeting this criteria and filing the Affidavit of Support.
The relative you wish to immigrate must obtain an immigrant visa number that is based on the preference category in which they fall.
People who want to become immigrants are classified into categories based on a preference system. The immediate relatives of US. citizens, which includes 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 the USCIS. An immigrant visa number will be immediately available for immediate relatives of US citizens. Click here for information on obtaining an immigrant visa number if you are an immediate relative of a US. citizen. 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 US. citizens. Adult means 21 years of age or older.
Second Preference: Spouses of lawful permanent residents, their unmarried children (under twenty-one), and the unmarried sons and daughters of lawful permanent residents.
Third Preference: Married sons and daughters of US citizens.
Fourth Preference: Brothers and sisters of adult US citizens.
Once USCIS receives your visa petition, I-130, Petition for Alien Relative,it will be approved or denied. USCIS will notify the person who filed the visa petition if the visa petition is approved. USCIS will then send the approved visa petition to the Department of State's National Visa Center, where it will remain until an immigrant visa number is available. The Center will notify you, the foreign national, when the visa petition is received and again when an immigrant visa number is available. You do not need to contact the National Visa Center, unless you change your address or there is a change in your personal situation, or that of your alien relative, that may affect eligibility for an immigrant visa, such as reaching age 21, marriage, divorce, or death of a spouse.
The Department of State is responsible for providing visa numbers to foreign nationals interested in immigrating to the United States. To find out more about the Department of State's visa process visit the Department of State or click here for specific information on how to get an immigrant visa number.
To check the status of a visa number you can review the Department of States Visa bulletin.
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