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Residency process for family-based petitions

  • Published
  • By Capt. Natalia Escobar
  • 375th Judge Advocate

While there are other ways to receive Lawful Permanent Residence, this article will give a basic overview on obtaining Lawful Permanent Residency derived from a family-based petition.

There are two family-based categories of immigrant visas: Immediate Relative and Family Preference. Immediate relatives are immediate family members of United States Citizens. Immediate Relative immigrant visas are unlimited and are immediately available. These include:

·         IR-1: Spouse of a U.S. Citizen;

·         IR-2: Unmarried Child Under 21 Years of Age of a U.S. Citizen;

·         IR-3: Orphan adopted abroad by a U.S. Citizen;

·         IR-4: Orphan to be adopted in the U.S. by a U.S. Citizen; and

·         IR-5: Parent of a U.S. Citizen who is at least 21 years old.

The Family Preference immigrant visas are for more distant, specific family relationships. These visas are limited in number and often have long waiting periods to become available. These categories include:

·         F1: Unmarried sons and daughters of U.S. Citizens and their minor children if applicable;

·         F2: Spouses, minor children, and unmarried sons and daughters age 21 or older of LPRs;

·         F3: Married sons and daughters of U.S. Citizens, their spouses, and minor children; and

·         F4: Brothers and sisters of U.S. citizens (must be at least 21 years of age), their spouses, and minor children.

The first step in the process is to file an I-130, Petition for Alien Relative. The I-130 establishes that there is a valid relationship between the petitioner and relative. Generally, petitions are filed at lockbox in Chicago or Phoenix. Ensure that all the instructions regarding filing locations, filing fees, and supporting documentation are followed. If the I-130 is approved, then the family member(s) must wait for their immigrant visa to become available. If the family member is an Immediate Relative, then they are issued an Immigrant Visa.

If the sponsor’s Immediate Family member is in the United States legally, they can file the I-130 petition and I-485 Application for Permanent Residence or Adjustment of Status at the same time. Again, ensure that all the instructions regarding filing locations, filing fees, and supporting documents are followed. Once the application has been accepted, it will be sent to a local Citizenship and Immigration Office.

The office will call the sponsor and family member(s) in for an Adjustment of Status interview. This interview will determine the validity of the relationship. Please bring in any documents that are requested by the office. If the application is approved, the family member will receive their Lawful Permanent Residence and their Alien Registration Card or “Green Card.”

This article was a basic overview of the process to obtain LPR status through a family based immigrant petition. There are many other categories and special conditional status LPR card holders who must go through other steps. Please see the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services website for more information.