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 U.S. or a lawful permanent resident. In addition to having a family member who qualifies to file a sponsoring petition, the immigrant must be admissible to the United States. There are many issues which can affect admissibility, some of which can be waived, therefore it is important to discuss your particular situation with an attorney before beginning the process.

Immediate Relatives of U.S. Citizens (IR): A spouse, widow, or unmarried child under the age or 21 of a U.S. citizen or the parent of a U.S. citizen over 21. There is no wait for a visa number in this category.

Family based preference categories: Those sponsoring family members in these categories must file a petition and then wait for a visa to be available.

1. First Preference: Unmarried children over the age of 21 of U.S. citizens.

2. Second Preference: Spouses of lawful permanent residents, their unmarried children under the age of 21, and unmarried children under the age of 21 of lawful permanent residents.

3. Third Preference: Married children of U.S. citizens.

4. Fourth Preference: Siblings of adult U.S. citizens.

The U.S. citizen or permanent resident 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 relative. Upon approval of this petition, the Department of State will determine if an immigrant visa number is available for you. When a number becomes available, you may apply for assignment of that number. Approval of the petition does not guarantee approval of the visa.

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