To promote family unity, immigration law allows U.S. citizens to petition for certain qualified relatives to come and live permanently in the United States. Eligible immediate relatives include the U.S. citizen’s:
Immediate relatives have special immigration priority and do not have to wait in line for a visa number to become available for them to immigrate because there are an unlimited number of visas for their particular categories.
Get a Green Card While Inside the United States
One Step Process
Certain people are eligible to apply for a green card (permanent residence) while inside the United States. An immediate relative relationship allows you to apply on Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status, to become a permanent resident at the same time your U.S. citizen petitioner files Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative. For more information on filing for permanent residence in one step, see our Concurrent Filing page.
Two Step Process
You still have the option to file your I-485 application any time after your petitioner files a Form I-130, for you, as long as it has not been denied. Generally, you will need to submit a copy of Form I-797, Notice of Action, with your Form I-485, that shows the Form I-130 petition is either pending or approved.
Get a Green Card While Outside the United States
If you are currently outside the United States and are an immediate relative of a U.S. citizen, you can become a permanent resident through consular processing. Consular processing is when USCIS works with the Department of State to issue a visa on an approved Form I-130 petition when a visa is available. You may then travel on the visa and will officially become a permanent resident when admitted at a U.S. port of entry. For more information on consular processing for immediate relatives of U.S. citizens, see the “Consular Processing” link to the left under “Green Card Processes & Procedures.” The Department of State will notify you when you are eligible to apply for an immigrant visa. If you do not apply for an immigrant visa within one year following notification from the Department of State, your petition may be terminated.
Things to keep in mind:
Source: United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)