How Can Your Family Join You in the US – Permanently?

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by | Aug 5, 2019 | Immigration Law

The attorneys at GillespieShields practice family, employment, civil, criminal, appeals, and immigration law.

How Can Your Family Join You in the US – Permanently?

There are few ways for an individual to obtain Permanent Residency – one such way is through family sponsorship that would grant the relative permanent residency.

A Permanent Resident Card (“Green Card”) grants just that – the right to live and work anywhere in the U.S., leave and re-enter the U.S. at any time, and the opportunity to become a U.S. citizen through the Naturalization process in the future.

In order to bring a relative, the petitioner must be a U.S. citizen or a lawful permanent resident and sponsor the foreign family member. All family-based immigrants fall into one of two major categories, immediate relative or family preference.

Immediate Relatives

Spouses, parents, orphans adopted abroad by a U.S. citizen, and the unmarried children (under 21 years of age) of a U.S. citizen are classified as immediate relatives and there are an unlimited number of immigrant visas available each year for this category.

Family Preference

All other qualified relationships are considered family preference categories, only a few immediate relative categories are available and the number of family preference immigrant visas are limited by a numerical cap. As a result, there’s a backlog and long wait times for many of the family preference categories.  Preference is prioritized as follows:

  • 1st preference: unmarried children over 21 years of age of U.S. Citizens
  • 2nd preference:  spouses and married adult and unmarried children (under 21) of permanent residents
  • 3rd preference: married children of U.S. citizens
  • 4th preference: brothers or sisters of adult U.S. Citizens

Where to Start

The family-based immigration process generally begins with the U.S. citizen or permanent resident sponsor filing a Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative to establish an eligible relationship with the family member in front of USCIS so that a visa can be issued.  Demand for immigrant visas for family preference is much higher than the number of visas available and there is usually a backlog and a person’s place in line is determined by a priority date. The priority date is the date that the I-130 petition is properly filed and accepted. The U.S. Department of State publishes a monthly visa bulletin that family preference immigrants can view to see when they’ve reached the front of the line.

Additional Info

Remember that the I-130 petition is just the beginning of the process. Once the I-130 is approved a visa is issued and the immigrant must apply for a green card via consular processing (in their home country) or through an adjustment of status once they are in the United States.




* Data based on USCIS Forms Data and Lockbox Rejection Data.

Contact an Attorney

Because of the complexity and risks involved, it is highly advisable that an individual consults with an immigration attorney prior to starting the I-130 process. GillespieShields can provide experienced immigration attorneys to advise and aid you during this process. Contact us today!


The information contained on this site is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. You should consult an attorney for legal advice concerning your individual situation. We welcome you to contact us via phone, electronic mail, or through this website. However, contacting us does not create an attorney-client relationship.  Please do not send us confidential information until such time as an attorney-client relationship is established.


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