A citizen of the United States or a lawful permanent resident may file a petition to seek lawful permanent resident status for a qualifying relative by following several steps:
- The U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident must file an immigrant visa petition I-130 Petition for Alien Relative on behalf of the relative, with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
The relative must obtain an immigrant visa number from the Department of State. After the DOS determines an immigrant visa number is immediately available, the relative can apply to have a number assigned to him/her.
- When an immigrant visa number is available, the USCIS can finish processing the case. If the relative is outside the United States, s/he must go to the US Consulate with jurisdiction over the area where s/he resides, in order to complete visa processing.
If the relative is already in the United States, after a visa number is available, s/he may be able to apply to change his/her status to lawful permanent resident, while remaining in the US. This process is called Adjustment of Status and is an option to explore with an attorney.
Removal of Condition - form I-751
When a U.S. citizen petitions for his foreign national spouse and the couple has been married for less than two years at the point of immigration, the immigrating spouse will be granted Conditional Permanent Resident status. This classification bestows a two-year resident status on the immigrant, and requires that form I-751 be filed with the Citizenship and Immigration Services (CIS) to "remove the condition" of the status. Form I-751 must be filed within the ninety (90) day period preceding the two-year anniversary of the grant of Conditional Resident Status, or the immigrant's status will terminate. Proof of ongoing marital union is required. If the couple has divorced, form I-751 may be filed, requesting a waiver of the joint filing by both spouses.