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Permanent immigration, or lawful permanent residency, in the U.S. comes with a variety of rights and privileges including the right to permanently live and work in the U.S.  If you want to immigrate to the U.S. through the family-based category, your relative, who is either a U.S. Citizen or a Lawful Permanent Resident, must sponsor you.

Family-Based Immigration


There are two ways in which to sponsor your Alien Relative.  If your relative is already in the U.S., he or she may be eligible to apply for adjustment of status.  Upon approval, your relative will receive a green card without ever needing to leave the U.S.


If your Alien Relative is outside the U.S., he or she would undergo consular processing.  After the necessary paperwork has been approved by the USCIS, the case is forwarded to the National Visa Center (NVC).  After undergoing additional paperwork, the case is then scheduled for an interview at the appropriate U.S. Consulate abroad.  Upon approval, on or after the interview, your Alien Relative will receive an immigrant visa.  This visa permits your relative to enter the U.S. with the permanent intent to reside and work in the U.S. Upon being admitted and inspected at a U.S. port of entry, your Alien Relative will become a Lawful Permanent Resident, and the green card will be sent via mail.


Preference Categories:

There are a several preference categories for allotting of immigrant visa numbers based on the status of the sponsor.


  • Immediate relatives of U.S. citizens:  Immediate relatives are defined as spouses, parents and unmarried children under the age of 21.  Immediate relatives do not have to wait for an immigrant visa number.  For a U.S. citizen to sponsor his/her parent, the U.S. citizen must be at least 21 years old.

  • First Preference: Unmarried adult (above the age of 21 years) sons and daughters of U.S. citizens

  • Second Preference: Spouses of Lawful Permanent Residents and their unmarried sons and daughters

  • Third Preference: Married sons and daughters of U.S. citizens

  • Fourth Preference: Brothers and sisters of adult U.S. citizens


A U.S. Citizen can sponsor:

  • His/her spouse

  • His/her parent (if the U.S. citizen is at least 21 years old)

  • Unmarried son/daughter of any age

  • Married son/daughter of any age

  • Sibling of any age and regardless of marital status

  • Fiance/Fiancee


A Lawful Permanent Resident can sponsor:

  • His/her spouse

  • Unmarried son/daughter of any age

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