The Immigration and Nationality Act allows for the immigration of foreigners to the United States based on two types of relationships:

Family Relationship: A multi-step process for those wanting to become a lawful permanent resident based on relationship to United States Citizen (USC) or Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR) relative.

Marriage: For United States citizens wanting to marry or have married a foreign national.

An LPR is a foreign national who has been granted the privilege of permanently living and working in the United States. To become an LPR based on a relationship to a USC of LPR relative, you must go through a multi-step process and your USC or LPR relative must meet certain requirements to be eligible to sponsor you.

U.S. citizens have two options for facilitating a future foreign national spouse's entry to the U.S:

K-1 Fiancé Visa Information: The K-1 Visa, also known as the K1 Fiancée Visa, may be used by United States citizens who wish to bring their prospective husbands or wives to the United States with the intention of getting married. Minor children of fiancées can also accompany them to the United States as they can be issued K-2 Visas. The U.S. citizen must file a petition with the USCIS on behalf of the foreign fiancé. After the petition is approved, the fiancé can obtain a K-1 Fiancé Visa. The K-1 Visa is issued at a U.S. embassy or consulate abroad. The marriage must take place within 90 days of the fiancé entering the United States.

K-3 Marriage Visa Information: The K-3 Visa may be used by United States Citizens who wish to bring their husbands or wives to the United States. Minor children of overseas spouse can also accompany them to the United States as they can be issued K-4 Visas. The K-3/4 visa is valid for two years and may be renewed 120 days prior to expatriation.


Family-based immigration is separated into two basic categories:

    • Immediate Relatives of U.S. Citizens (IR): The spouse, widow(er) and unmarried children under 21 of a U.S. citizen, and the parent of a U.S. citizen who is 21 or older.
    • Returning Residents (SB): Immigrants who lived in the United States previously as lawful permanent residents and are returning to live in the U.S. after a temporary visit of more than one year abroad
      Family First Preference (F1): Unmarried sons and daughters over the age of 21 of U.S. citizens, and their children, if any. Family Second Preference (F2):
    • 2A: Spouses of lawful permanent residents, their unmarried children under the age of 21.
    • 2B: Unmarried sons and daughters of permanent residents who are 21 or older.
    • Family Third Preference (F3): Married sons and daughters of U.S. citizens, and their spouses and children.
    • Family Fourth Preference (F4): Brothers and sisters of United States citizens, and their spouses and children, provided the U.S. citizens are at least 21 years of age.


In order for an application through either an Immediate Relative category or one of the preference categories, your relative should first submit an immigrant visa petition, I-130 Petition for Alien Relative. This form should be accompanied by legal proof of your relationship to your relative.

Upon approval of the I-130 Petition for Alien Relative, the USCIS office will determine if an immigrant visa number is available for you. Immigrant visas are always available for persons belonging to the Immediate Relative category. When a number becomes available, you may apply for an immigrant visa if you are abroad. If you are in the US, you may be able to file an Application to Register Permanent Resident or Adjust Status , Form I-485.


Diversity lottery program - Each year, the Diversity Lottery (DV) Program makes 50,000 immigrant visas available through a lottery administered by the state department.

Religious workers - Such as ordained ministers, Imams, Rabbis or similar classifications whose services are required by non-profit religions or other qualifying organizations may obtain permanent residency.