Immigrants (Legal Permanent Residents)

Immigrants or legal permanent residents (LPRs) are foreign nationals who come to the U.S. to live here permanently. Upon their arrival, immigrants can immediately work, buy property and invest; and be eligible for U.S. citizenship after 3 or 5 years.

Each year, the U.S. admits 675,000 immigrants/LPRs among the following: family-sponsored immigrants, including immediate relatives of U.S. citizens and family-sponsored preference immigrants (480,000); employment-based preference immigrants (140,000); and diversity immigrants (55,000). Immediate relatives of U.S. citizens as well as refugees and asylees who are adjusting status are exempt from direct numerical limits.

Family-Based

Only the spouses, minor children under 21 years old and parents of U.S. Citizens are immediately entitled to immigrant visas upon the approval of relative petitions on their behalf. Other relatives in the following categories must wait for an immigrant visa to become available according to the following preferences:

First Preference F1: Unmarried, adult sons and daughters of U.S. citizens. Adult means 21 years of age or older.

Second Preference: F2A Spouses of lawful permanent residents, their unmarried children (under 21 years), and the F2B unmarried adult sons and daughters of lawful permanent residents.

Third Preference F3: Married sons and daughters of U.S. Citizens.

Fourth Preference F4: Brothers and sisters of adult U.S. Citizens.

IR - Spouse, Children and Parents of US Citizens

The following immediate relatives (IR) of U.S. citizens - spouses, unmarried children under the age of 21 and parents – can immigrate to the U.S. immediately. Once the relative petition filed for any of these immediate relatives is approved by USCIS, an immigrant visa number is immediately available.

F1 - Adult Unmarried Children of U.S. Citizens

Unmarried adult children (over 21 years) of U.S. Citizens can immigrate to the U.S. under the F1 First Preference category, but they have to wait for a visa to be available, after approval of their relative petitions, before they can come to the U.S. and live here as permanent residents. Click here to check for visa availability information.

F2A - Spouse and Minor Children of Permanent Residents

Spouses and minor children (under 21 years) of legal permanent residents can immigrate to the U.S. under the F2A Second Preference category, but they have to wait for a visa to be available, after approval of their relative petitions, before they can come to the U.S. and live here as permanent residents. Click here to check for visa availability information.

F2B - Unmarried Adult Children of Legal Permanent Residents

Unmarried adult children (over 21 years) of legal permanent residents can immigrate to the U.S. under the F2B Second Preference category, but they have to wait for a visa to be available, after approval of their relative petitions, before they can come to the U.S. and live here as permanent residents. Click here to check for visa availability information.

F3 - Adult Married Children of U.S. Citizens

Married adult children (over 21 years) of U.S. Citizens, along with their spouses and minor children (under 21 years), can immigrate to the U.S. under the F3 Third Preference category, but they have to wait for a visa to be available, after approval of their relative petitions, before they can come to the U.S. and live here as permanent residents. Click here to check for visa availability information.

F4 - Brothers and Sisters of U.S Citizens

Unmarried Brothers and Sisters of U.S. citizens, and minor children (under 21 years) of said unmarried brothers and sisters; and Married Brothers and Sisters of U.S. Citizens, along with their spouses and minor children (under 21 years) can immigrate to the U.S. under the F4 Fourth Preference category, but they have to wait for a visa to be available, after approval of their relative petitions, before they can come to the U.S. and live here as permanent residents. Click here to check for visa availability information.

LIFE Act - Legal Immigration Family Equity Act of 2000

The Legal Immigration Family Equity Act (LIFE Act) enacted on December 21, 2000 allows certain persons who have an immigrant visa immediately available but entered the U.S. without inspection; or otherwise are in the U.S. on expired visas; or violated their status and can prove physical presence in the U.S. on or before December 21, 2000 - to apply for adjustment of status in the U.S.. The LIFE Act also created the K Visa for spouses and minor children (under 21 years) of U.S. Citizens; and the V Visa for spouses and minor children (under 21 years) of legal permanent residents – to allow said spouses and children to enter the U.S. to live and work as nonimmigrants while they complete the processing of their immigrant/permanent resident status in the U.S.

K-3 Spouse of a U.S. Citizen

The spouse and child/ren of a U.S. citizen may enter with a K-3 Spouse of a U.S. Citizen and K-4 Child of K-3, respectively. Instead of waiting for their visas outside the U.S., said K-3 spouse and K-4 minor child/ren can immediately come to the U.S. as nonimmigrants and complete the processing of their immigrant status in the U.S. through applications for adjustment of status.

V - Spouse and Children of Legal Permanent Residents

The spouse and unmarried minor child/ren (under 21 years) of legal permanent residents (LPR) whose relative petitions were filed before December 21, 2000 and have been approved and/or pending for at least three years, may gain entry as a nonimmigrant with a V-1 Spouse of an LPR and V-2 Child off an LPR, respectively. Instead of waiting for a visa outside the U.S., said V-1 spouses and V-2 minor children can come to the U.S. as nonimmigrants while they wait for the time that visas are available to them and be able to file applications for adjustment of status.

VAWA – Violence Against Women Act of 1994

Under the Violence Against Women Act of 1994, spouses and children of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents may self-petition for lawful permanent residency. The law allows battered spouses and children of U.S. Citizens and legal permanent residents (LPRs) to file for legal permanent resident or green card status without the knowledge or assistance of the abusive U.S. Citizen of LPR spouse, in order to seek safety and independence from the abusive spouse.

Employment-Based

EB-1 Priority Workers

- Alien of Extraordinary Ability in the Sciences, Arts, Education, Business or Athletics
- Alien Outstanding Professor or Researcher
- Alien Manager and Executive subject to International Transfer to the U.S.

EB-2 Professionals with Advanced Degrees or Perons with exceptional Ability

- Alien of Exceptional Ability in the Sciences, Arts or Business
- Alien Advanced Degree Professional
- Qualified Alien Physician in an Underserved Area of the U.S.

EB-3 Skilled or Professional Workers

- Alien Professional with bachelor's degree
- Alien Skilled Worker (minimum two years training and experience)
- Alien Unskilled Worker

EB-4 Special Immigrants

Green Card Through an Employer

- Alien Religious Worker
- Employee and Former Employee of the U.S. Government abroad

Immigrant/Legal Permanent Residence status may be granted based on employment skills, and immigrant visas are available if you qualify under the employment-based preference categories.

Permanent Diversity Program

If you are a citizen of a country with low rates of immigration to the U.S., the Diversity Lottery Program allows you to immigrate to the U.S. through a lottery conducted by the State Department every year. Winners of the lottery are randomly selected from qualified entries. If you are selected, you will be given an opportunity to apply for permanent residence, and if granted, will be authorized to live and work permanently in the U.S.. You will also be allowed to bring your spouse and any unmarried children under 21 years to the U.S.

PERM Labor Certification

Employers can hire a foreign worker to work permanently in the U.S. with a permanent labor certification issued by the Department of Labor (DOL). DOL must certify to the USCIS that there are no qualified U.S. workers able, willing, qualified, and available to accept the job at the prevailing wage for the occupation in the area of intended employment and that employment of the foreign worker will not adversely affect the wages and working conditions of similarly employed U.S. workers.

Citizenship

You can gain U.S. citizenship status through a process called Naturalization. General requirements for naturalization include a 5-year period of continuous residence and physical presence in the U.S., except for spouses of U.S. citizens (3 years) and active members of the U.S. military (1 year); ability to read, write and speak English; a knowledgeable understanding of U.S. history and government; good moral character; attachment to the principles of the U.S. Constitution; and a favorable disposition toward the U.S.

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