|Permanent Residency -
In certain cases a family member may petition an individual for permanent residence
The Family Based Process
There are two steps to the process, they can be done sequentially or together
depending on the petitioner and the family relationship.
The two steps to the process are:
The Immigrant Petition
In certain limited cases an individual can petition for U.S. Lawful Permanent
Residency for a relative. The Immediate Relative, First, Third and Fourth
Categories apply to citizens. The Second Category applies to permanent
U.S. Citizens can petition for:
First Category -
Third Category -
Fourth Category -
U.S. Permanent Residents can petition for:
Returning Residents -
The Immediate Relative and Returning Resident categories are unlimited.
There is no quota for those applications.
All the other categories are limited. They are subject to limits on the number
of immigrant visas issued each year. Currently, all such "preference"
categories are backlogged.
If the applicable preference category is backlogged, the family sponsor may
file the I-130 Immigrant Petition for the relative. However, the green card
application (the I-485) cannot be filed until the priority date for that category is
current. See Preference Category Backlogs, below.
Adjustment of Status to Permanent Resident
Approval of the I-130 immigrant petition allows the employee in question to file an I-
485, Application for Adjustment of Status to Permanent Resident. Immediate
Relatives can file the I-485 together with the I-130. The I-485 is the actual
application for the "green card." An employee's immediate family has derivative
status and may apply for permanent residency at the same time.
The I-130 can be filed simultaneously with the I-485 if the category is unlimited. See
Preference Category Backlogs, below.
The I-485 is filed for each family member. It is the usual practice to also file for a
work authorization card and permission to travel. The work authorization card allows
family members to work. The permission to travel (Advance Parole) allows the
person to travel outside of the United States and return. Without this permission the
the residency application is abandoned.
Consular Processing Immigrant Visa Applications
Upon approval of the I-130, if the priority date is current, the beneficiary and his
dependents may process for an immigrant visa in their home country. The National
Visa Center will initiate the process by communicating with the beneficiary of the I-
130 or their representative. At the end of the NVC's process, they will send the file
to the designated consulate in the beneficiary's home country for scheduling of the
immigrant visa interview.
Preference Category Backlogs
As described above, certain categories of immigrant classifications are backlogged.
This means that, since those categories are limited to a certain number of immigrant
visas per country, for petitions filed today there are no visas available. The
application joins the queue of petitions based on the filing date.
For example, as of October 2005, for the First Preference Category (unmarried
sons and daughters of U.S. Citizens,) the petitions from the following countries and
filed on or before the stated date are eligible to apply for the green card.
Mainland China April 22, 2001
India April 22, 2001
Mexico January 1, 1993
Philippines May 22, 1991
All other countries April 22, 2001
People who have filed the I-130 after the applicable priority date, will have to wait
until that date is reached before they can move on to the final step. The most
recent priority dates being processed will appear in the State Department's monthly
Visa Bulletin. See also, this website at Immigrant Visa News.
State Department Visa Bulletin
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