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The Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) limits the number of family-based immigration visas that can be awarded each year to foreign nationals. The United States Department of State (DOS) is in charge of assigning immigrant visas, while the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) determines immigrant visa eligibility.

This overview will provide you with a high-level grasp of how family-based immigration works in the United States. A family member’s permanent resident status allows them to live and work in the United States indefinitely. Permanent resident status was conferred to both those having an immigrant visa and those with a green card.

Beneficiaries & Petitioners

Two family members, a petitioner, and a beneficiary, must be involved in family-based immigration. The petitioner must be a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident. The foreign family member who wishes to receive a green card is the beneficiary. The beneficiary may have a spouse or children who qualify as derived beneficiaries in some categories.

Immediate Relative & Family Preferences

Family-based immigrants fall into one of two categories: immediate relatives or family preference.

Immediate Relatives: This category includes spouse, parent, and unmarried children below the age of 21. They are eligible for an unlimited number of immigrant visas each year.

Family Preference: All other relationships are considered part of the family preference category. The number of family preference immigrant visas is limited. As a result, there’s a backlog and long wait for many of the family preference categories.

Application Process for Green Card

The petitioner starts the family-based immigration procedure. USCIS receives the petitioner’s Form I-130 Petition to prove that a qualified family relationship exists. The foreign family member can apply for a green card once USCIS approves the I-130 petition and a visa number is issued. There are two ways to apply for a green card: consular processing and status modification.

Consular processing is the process of applying for a green card through a U.S. embassy or consular office in another nation. On the other hand, status modification entails changing one’s immigration status to permanent residence. Sometimes, an immigrant who is already in the U.S. as a temporary visitor (student, tourist, etc.) may be able to adjust status to permanent residence.

An immigration lawyer can help you initiate a petition and prepare Form I-130. For more information, get in touch with an immigration attorney at (818)900-5707.

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