Permanent immigration in the U.S. comes with a variety of rights and privileges. One method to obtaining lawful permanent residency is through a relative who is either a citizen of the US or a lawful permanent resident. In determining eligibility for a family-based petition, please refer to the following steps that will give a quick overview of the process.

There are two categories for unlimited family-based immigration:
1. Immediate Relatives of US Citizens (IR): A spouse, widow or unmarried child under the age or 21 of a US citizen. This category also includes parents of adult US citizens.
2. Returning Residents (SB): Immigrants who previously lived in the US under lawful permanent resident status. These individuals should be returning to live in the US after being abroad for more than one year.

There are four preference categories for limited family-based immigration:
1. First Preference: Unmarried children over the age of 21 of US citizens.
2. Second Preference: 2A—Spouses of lawful permanent residents, their unmarried children under the age of 21, and 2B—Unmarried sons and daughters of permanent residents who are 21 and older.
3. Third Preference: Married children of US citizens.
4. Fourth Preference: Siblings of adult US citizens.

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

Upon approval of this petition, the Department of State will determine if an immigrant visa number is available for you. Immigrant visas are always available for persons in the IR 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).