Because family reunification is the dominant principle under current USA immigration system,
the most common method used to obtain lawful permanent residency is through family –
sponsored immigration. The process begins with filing a document with the United States
Citizenship and Immigration Services, a part of the United States Department of Homeland
Security, called a Petition for Alien Relative (Form I-130), which is also called a visa petition.
The family member filing this document is known as the petitioner and the foreign person who
wishes to immigrate to the United States is the beneficiary.
Each year thousands of family members immigrate to the United States based on petitions filed
by family members. There are two groups of family based immigrant visa categories- immediate
relatives and family preference categories. The category of immediate relatives includes spouses
of citizens, children (under 21 years of age and unmarried) of citizens, and parents of citizens 21
years of age or older. All other family members who do not qualify as immediate relatives of
citizens fall into different preference categories. There are four preference categories as follows:
(a) first preference includes unmarried sons and daughters of U.S. citizens who are 21 or older);
(b) second preference is comprised of spouses and unmarried children (under 21 years) of
permanent residents (2A) and unmarried sons and daughters who are 21 or older of permanent
residents. (2B); (c) third preference includes married sons and daughter of U.S. citizens; (d) and
the fourth preference category includes brothers and sisters of U.S. citizens, who are older than
21. While immediate relatives are not subject to numerical limitations and immigrant visas are
always available to them, the law sets annual numerical limitations for each family preference
category. When the number of applicants in a category exceeds the available immigrant visas for
this category, there will be an immigration wait. Then, the available immigrant visas will be
issued in the chronological order in which the petitions were filed. Thus, the date on which the
petition was filed, also called the “priority date”, will determine when the applicant will be
issued an immigrant visa. Check the Visa Bulletin for the current priority dates. Beneficiary of
an approved visa petition can apply for a green card either through consular processing overseas
at the U.S. embassy or consulate that has jurisdiction over the residence of the beneficiary or, if
the beneficiary is already in the United States and meet all requirements, by filing an Application
to Register Permanent Residence or to Adjust Status (Form I-485).
Contact Law Offices of Paul Marinov to discuss how we can help you in any area of family-based immigration.