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Immigration Law: Immediate Relatives of U.S. Citizens

Immediate Relatives

Immediate relatives of a U.S. citizen are at the top of the list when it comes to qualifying for green cards and receiving them quickly. The citizen must sponsor the relative. This category includes:

  • spouses
  • unmarried children under 21
  • parents of U.S. citizens, if the U.S. citizen child is at least age 21

An unlimited number of green cards are available for immediate relatives whose U.S. citizen relatives petition for them -- applicants can get a green card as soon as they get through the paperwork and application process.

Steps to Take

There are two basic ways to legally assist your relatives to immigrate into the United States:

1. If your relatives live in another country, you will file an I-130 petition with USCIS. Form I-130 can be filed with a USCIS Lockbox based on the petitioner’s place of residence. Please refer to pages 4 and 5 of the instructions for mailing addresses. Please check our Web site for any updates on instructions or fees. Make sure your petition is complete, signed, and submitted with correct fees. You will need to submit evidence of your U.S. citizenship, and evidence proving your relationship to each person for whom you are filing a petition.

2. If your relatives are already in the United States and entered legally, then they may be able to file an I-485 application to adjust their status to lawful permanent resident at the same time as you file the I-130 relative petition. Petitions filed at the same time with permanent residence applications (I-485) must be filed at a location that is different from where you would file an I-130 petition by itself. Please read the instructions for the two addresses where concurrent.