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A U.S. Citizen or Legal Permanent Resident may file a petition to “sponsor” a foreign citizen seeking to live permanently in the United States. To be eligible to apply for an immigrant visa, a foreign citizen must be sponsored by an immediate relative who is at least 21 years of age.
There are two types of family-based immigrant visas:
Immediate Relative – these visas are based on a close family relationship with a U.S. citizen, such as a spouse, child (unmarried and under 21 years of age) or parent. The number of immigrants in this category is not limited. This means your family member does not need to wait in line for a visa.
Family Preference – these visas are for family members who are not immediate relatives. This is intended for more distant, family relationships with a U.S. citizen and some specified relationships with a Permanent Resident. The number of immigrants in these categories is limited each fiscal year.
U.S. citizens can file an immigrant visa petition for their spouse, son or daughter, parent, and brother or sister.
U.S. Lawful Permanent Residents can only file a petition for immigrant visa for their spouse, unmarried son or daughter.
If you are outside of the United States, you must obtain your visa abroad through consular processing.
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