Family of U.S. Citizens
This page describes how you (a U.S. citizen) may petition for certain family members to receive either a green card, a fiancee visa or a K-3/K-4 Visa based on your relationship. (If your relative wishes to naturalize or obtain proof of citizenship, see the "Citizenship" section of our website.)
Table: Relatives for Whom You (U.S. Citizen) May Petition
Application Process: Green Card (Permanent Residence)
To petition for a family member to receive a green card (permanent residence), you must submit the following:
Spouses of deceased U.S. permanent residents (widows and widowers) may also be eligible to become permanent residents. See the “Widow(er)” page on our website.
The term “immediate relative(s)” is used to define certain immigrant relatives of U.S. citizens. Immediate relatives include:
For immediate relatives of U.S. citizens, visas are always available, which means that your family member does not need to wait in line for a visa. Immediate relatives who are in the United States can file Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status at the same time as Form I-130. For more information on how your relative can apply to adjust status (i.e. get a green card) while he or she is in the United States, see the "How Do I Help My Relative Become a Permanent Resident?" guide.
Preference categories apply to family members who are not immediate relatives. The visas alloted for these categories are subject to annual numerical limits. A visa becomes available to a preference category based on the priority date (the date the Form I-130 was filed). Preference categories are grouped as follows:
For current wait times, see the “USCIS Processing Time Information” page on this website and the “Visa Bulletin” page on the U.S. Department of State website. For more information on priority dates, see the “Visa Availability and Priority Dates” page.
What Happens Next?
For more information on becoming a green card holder, see the “Adjustment of Status” (for processing within the United States) and “Consular Processing” (for processing overseas) pages. For more information on green cards, see the “Green Card” section.
NOTE: A visa petition (Form I-130 or Form I-129F) is only used to demonstrate a qualifying relationship. An approved petition DOES NOT grant any benefit, it simply creates a place in line for visa processing.
Members of the Military
If you or a member of your family is in the U.S. military, special conditions may apply. See the “Military” section of the website.
Last Reviewed/Updated: 04/04/2011
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