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Immediate Relative (IR) Immigration

U.S. immigration law allows immediate relatives to immigrate to the United States.

“Immediate Relatives” include: the spouse (including same-sex spouses), the widow(er), the unmarried children under age 21, and the parents of a U.S. citizen who is over 21 years. 

There are four steps to this process: 

 Step 1 – File the Petition. If you are a U.S. citizen legally residing in India and want to file an immigrant visa petition for an immediate relative, you can file a petition at the USCIS Office in New Delhi if you have been continuously, legally resident in India for at least the 6 months prior to petition filing. Individuals who are in the country on temporary status, such as a student or a tourist, do not meet this residency standard and must file an immigrant visa petition for an immediate relative in the United States.

All U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents (green card holders) with a permanent address in the United States will file I-130 petitions at the USCIS service center in the United States having jurisdiction over their residence. A list of service centers is included in the instructions with downloadable form I-130.

When the petition is approved by USCIS in the U.S., the USCIS will send you a notice of approval, a Form I-797. At the same time they will also forward the approved petition to the National Visa Center (NVC), which will contact your relative in India who is the intending immigrant with further information. The National Visa Center will process and forward the approved petition to the U.S. Consulate in Chennai for the visa interview and adjudication.

 Step 2 – Gather Required Documents for the Interview. Once the approved petition has been received at the immigrant visa unit from the Department of Homeland Security, you will receive the "Instruction Package for Immigrant Visa Applicants," with a list of the documents the intending immigrant (your immediate relative in India) must present at the immigrant visa interview.

  • Please ensure that you complete Form DS-230, Part I (PDF: 175 KB), and return it as soon as possible. This way we can begin the required internal administrative processing.
  • You then need to notify us once you have obtained all the necessary documents as listed in the "Instructions Package for Immigrant Visa Applicants".
  • The IV unit will schedule the final visa interview.
  • You will need to have a medical exam. The fee for the medical exam is in addition to fees paid directly to the U.S. government. You pay this fee to the doctor directly.

 Step 3 – The Interview at the Consulate. Appointments are necessary for immigrant visa interviews. The petitioner is not required to attend.

  • Each applicant, regardless of age, must appear in person for his/her interview. At that time all documents will be evaluated and a decision will be made. There can be no guarantees in advance regarding the outcome of the interview, and applicants are advised not to make travel arrangements until after the visa is approved.
  • Applicants may be found ineligible in accordance with immigrant visa law. For example, if you have a communicable disease, have committed criminal acts, or you are likely to become a public charge you will be found ineligible. The two years foreign residency requirement for former exchange visitors is also applicable. If you are found ineligible, the consular officer will advise you if the law provides for a waiver.

Step 4 – After your visa is approved. Once you have received your immigrant visa, you must enter the United States within 6 months of visa issuance to obtain an alien registration receipt or "green" card (Form I-151 or I-551) that will allow you to live and work in the United States.

  • At the port of entry DHS officials will assign you an "alien number." They will stamp your passport with this number and make a notation that you are registered for an alien registration card.
  • It normally takes several months for DHS to process and send the alien registration card to you. In the interim, the passport stamp, valid for 1 year, permits employment and travel as you await your green card.
  • You may depart and return to the U.S. before you receive the alien registration receipt card, as long as the DHS stamp in you passport has not expired. Should you wish to leave the U.S. and your stamp has expired and you have not yet received your alien card, you should contact DHS in the U.S. before departure to obtain permission to return to the U.S.
  • If, in the future, you plan to live outside the U.S. for more than 12 months, you must apply for a re-entry permit (Form I-131) in the U.S. before departure. The maximum validity of this document is two years. If the relocation is permanent, you should formally abandon your permanent resident status. Without a re-entry permit, any absence from the U.S. of 12 months or longer, or any residence established outside the U.S., is considered grounds for loss of permanent resident status.