U.S. Permanent Residence and Green Cards

U.S. Citizens and Lawful Permanent Residents can petition for certain family members to obtain their green cards in order to move to the U.S. permanently. Family members can immigrate as either Immediate Relatives of U.S. Citizens or through the Family Preference System

Immediate Relatives

Immediate Relatives include:

  • Spouses of U.S. Citizens
  • Unmarried Children (under 21) of U.S. Citizens
  • Parents of U.S. Citizens (over 21)​​

Immediate Relatives have priority and do not have to wait in line for a visa number to become available to apply for a green card. Depending on whether the relative is inside or outside the U.S., will determine if he/she can apply for a green card inside the U.S. or at a U.S. Consulate abroad.

Family Preference System

Family Preference System includes:

  • First (F1): Unmarried Sons/Daughters of Permanent Residents
  • Second:
    • (F2A): Spouses and Unmarried Children of Permanent Residents
    • (F2B): Unmarried Sons and Daughters of Permanent Residents
  • Third (F3): Married Sons/Daughters of U.S. Citizens
  • Fourth (F4): Brothers/Sisters of U.S. Citizens

Application Process

The first step is for the U.S. Citizen or Permanent Resident to file an I-130 immigrant petition for his or her relative with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Once approved, if the individual is in the U.S. in a valid status and a visa number is currently available, he or she can apply for a green card, which may require an in-person interview. If the individual is an Immediate Relative of a U.S. Citizen, he or she can apply for a green card at the same time as the immigrant petition. If a visa number is not available, the individual must wait until his or her priority date becomes current before filing the green card application.

If the individual is outside of the U.S. or unable to adjust status while inside the U.S., he or she may apply for an immigrant visa through consular processing. After the immigrant petition is approved, the National Visa Center will be contacted to begin processing. Once an immigrant visa is available, the individual will be scheduled for an in-person interview at the respective U.S. Consulate/Embassy abroad. If approved, the individual will receive his or her green card after entry into the U.S. ​