Lichtman & Elliothomeaboutpractice areasattorneyscontact

Immigration Lawyers DCFamily-Sponsored Permanent Residence

U.S. Citizens or Lawful Permanent Residents (“LPRs”) may sponsor certain family members for permanent residence.  Individuals who want to become immigrants are classified into different preference categories based on whether the sponsor is a U.S. Citizen or a Legal Permanent Resident and how the foreign national beneficiary is related to the sponsor. These preference categories determine the waiting time after the immigrant petition (Form I-130) is filed and before the relative is permitted to apply for a green card (Form I-485). Filing the I-130 petition is the first step in establishing the relative’s place in line (or “priority date”). For current wait times, see the State Department Visa Bulletin.

Immediate Relatives of U.S. Citizens – parents, spouses, and unmarried children under age 21 of U.S. Citizens – are not included in the preference category system and are not subject to the visa backlog that other relatives may face. The family-based preference categories are as follows:

U.S. Citizen and LPRs can petition for their foreign national relatives by filing an I-130 Petition for Alien Relative with USCIS. Once the foreign national’s priority date is current, s/he can apply for permanent residence. Applying for permanent residence entails a medical examination, police and security background checks, proving that the foreign national will not become a public charge, and otherwise proving admissibility.

There are two different ways for foreign national relatives to apply for permanent residence –adjustment of status within the United States and consular processing. Relatives who are in some nonimmigrant visa status in the United States can file the I-485 Application to Adjust Status to Permanent Residence. Immediate relatives living in the U.S. can file the I-485 concurrently with the I-130 because there is no wait for the immigrant visa number. In fact, immediate relatives in the United States do not necessarily need to be in valid nonimmigrant status to be eligible to adjust status; they must simply have lawfully entered and been inspected at the port of entry.

Those who are outside of the country can apply for an immigrant visa at a consulate abroad once the I-130 is approved. The application for the immigrant visa commences with the filing of forms with the National Visa Center of the U.S. Department of State and culminates in an interview at a U.S. consulate in the home country of residence. Immigrant visa applicants must also undergo medical, criminal, and security clearances.