A lawful permanent resident
(LPR) is a foreign national who has been granted the privilege
of permanently living and working in the United States. In order to become
an LPR based upon a familial relationship with a U.S. Citizen or lawful
permanent resident, there is a multi-step process.
First, the USCIS must approve
an immigrant visa petition, I-130 Petition for Alien Relative. This petition is
filed by the U.S. Citizen or LPR relative (sponsor) and must be accompanied by
proof of the relationship to the requesting relative.
Second, the Department of
State must determine if an immigrant visa number is immediately available to
the foreign national, even if he/she is already in the United States. When an
immigrant visa number becomes available, it means that the individual can apply
to have one of the immigrant visa numbers assigned to him/her. Information
pertaining to visa availability can be found in the Department of State's Visa Bulletin.
Third, if the individual is already
in the U.S., he/she may apply to change his/her status to that of a lawful
permanent resident after a visa number becomes available. This is one way to
secure an immigrant visa number. If the individual is outside the U.S. when an
immigrant visa number becomes available, he/she will be contacted by the
Department of State’s National Visa Center to complete the processing. This is
the other way in which to secure an immigrant visa number.
Who is eligible to sponsor
a relative to immigrate to the U.S.?
- A citizen or a lawful permanent resident of the U.S. who
is able to provide documentation confirming his/her status, and
- A citizen or a lawful permanent resident of the U.S.
who is at least 18 years of age
A U.S. Citizen may petition
for the following foreign national relatives to immigrate to the U.S.:
A lawful permanent resident may
petition for the following foreign national relatives to immigrate to the U.S:
information on petitioning for a Spouse, Child
& Son/Daughter, Parent or
please see the respective articles.
Who is eligible for lawful
permanent residence based on a family relationship?
A person with a relative who
is a U.S. Citizen or lawful permanent resident of the U.S. who can provide
documentation confirming his/her status and is willing to sponsor the alien
relative for lawful permanent residency by filing the I-130, Petition for Alien
A relative who wishes to
immigrate must obtain a 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 U.S. 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 U.S. citizens.
The relatives in the remaining
categories must wait for a visa number to become available according to the
- First Preference: Unmarried, adult sons and daughters
of U.S. 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
- Third Preference: Married sons and daughters of U.S.
- Fourth Preference: Brothers and sisters of adult U.S.
See Visa Bulletin section for more
information on visa availability.
Once the USCIS
receives a relative 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 National Visa Center
will notify the sponsor/petitioner and the foreign national when the visa
petition is received and again when an immigrant visa number is available. There
is no need to contact the National Visa Center, unless it is to report a change
your address or there is a change in the sponsor’s or alien relative’s personal
situation that may affect eligibility for an immigrant visa, such as reaching
age 21, marriage, divorce, or death of a spouse.
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