Immediate relatives of US Citizens and lawful permanent residents are permitted to immigrate to the United States and receive a green card. There is no limit on the number of immediate relative immigrant visas allocated per year for immediate relatives of US citizens. Immediate relatives of US citizens include spouses and unmarried children under 21 years of age. If the US citizen is over 21 years of age, his/her parents are considered immediate relatives as well.
Immediate relatives of lawful permanent residents are subject to annual limits; therefore, it can take several years before a lawful permanent resident's children or spouse will receive a green card.
There are four critical steps in the immediate relative petitioning process. First, the US citizen must file an I-130 Visa Petition with USCIS along with evidence of the relationship. A Form I-130 Visa Petition must be filed for each individual beneficiary. For example, if the US citizen has a wife and two children living abroad (and assuming none of them are US citizens already), the US citizen must file three I-130 visa petitions. The I-130 visa petition should be filed with the USCIS Service Center with jurisdiction over the US Citizen's residence. Once USCIS approves the I-130, USCIS will notify the US citizen and forward the approved petition to the National Visa Center, which will contact the relatives living abroad.
Second, the alien should collect the required documents. The alien relative should complete the DS-230 Part I form and return it. The instructions will tell the alien all the documents necessary for the visa application. Once the DS-230 is returned, the immigrant visa unit will schedule a consular interview in the alien's home country. The alien must have a medical exam performed before the consular interview.
Third, the alien must attend the interview at the consulate. It is not necessary that the petitioning US citizen attend the consular interview. Each visa applicant must attend the interview. This includes children, regardless of age. The consular officer will inquire as to the alien's criminal record, communicable diseases and financial support in the United States. If the alien is found ineligible for a visa, the consular officer will advise the alien whether a waiver, such as an I-601 waiver, is possible.
Fourth, assuming the visa is approved, the alien has six months to immigrate to the United States. This allows the alien to plan the trip, obtain the necessary funds and generally take care of anything else before leaving for the United States. Once the alien arrives in the United States, s/he will receive an alien registration number, which is eight or nine numbers.
There are no derivative beneficiaries with immediate relatives of US citizens. In some areas of immigrant visas, spouses and children are eligible for immigrant visas along with the principal beneficiary. For example, if a US citizen petitions for his married son, the son will have to wait for an immigrant visa to become available. However, once the immigrant visa is available, the son and his wife and children (depending on the children's age) will be able to immigrate to the United States together. Because there are no derivative beneficiaries with immediate relatives of US citizens, a separate I-130 Visa Petition must be filed for each immediate relative.
If you wish to petition for an immediate relative or any other preference category relative, contact The Nuñez Firm to schedule a consultation.
Also See: Reinstating Visa Petition Due to Deceased Petitioner
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