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A US citizen or lawful permanent resident may file with the USCIS an immigrant visa petition (Form I-130) for an alien relative to immigrate to the US. The I-130 petition must be supported by proof of the sponsor's relationship to the beneficiary.

If an immigrant visa number is available to the beneficiary, he/she may apply for an immigrant visa at the US consulate. If the beneficiary is already in the US, he/she may apply for adjustment of status with the USCIS.

A US citizen may sponsor the following relatives to immigrate to the US:

  • Spouse;
  • Unmarried child under 21;
  • Unmarried son or daughter over 21;
  • Married son or daughter of any age;
  • Brother or sister, if sponsor is at least 21 years old;
  • Parent, if sponsor is at least 21 years old.

A lawful permanent resident (LPR) may sponsor the following relatives to immigrate to the US:

  • Spouse; or
  • Unmarried son or daughter of any age.

Preference System for Immigrant Visa Numbers

Spouses, unmarried children under 21 and parents are considered immediate relatives of the US citizen and need not wait for an immigrant visa number to become available once the I-130 is approved by the USCIS. A preference system is in place to determine the availability of immigrant visas for the remaining categories, namely:

First Preference:        Unmarried children of US citizens over 21

Second Preference:   Spouses of LPRs

                               Unmarried children below 21 of the LPR's spouse

                               Unmarried children of the LPR of any age

Third Preference:        Married children of US citizens of any age

Fourth Preference:     Brothers and sisters of adult US citizens