Ask the Consul – Family Based Immigration

The U.S. Embassy Consular Section receives many questions related to visas. One of the most common questions received is: How can I become a legal permanent resident of the United States?  An immigrant visa, or green card as it is known, allows you to reside permanently in the United States.

To obtain an immigrant visa a person is typically petitioned by a U.S. Citizen, a legal permanent resident immediate family member, or an employer.  Most immigrant visas processed in Santo Domingo are family-based, or the result of a family member submitting a petition for a relative here in the Dominican Republic.  The petition must be approved by United States Citizenship and Immigration Services for the process to begin.

U.S. Citizens may petition for spouses, children under the age of 21, parents, and fiancés. In some cases, widows of U.S. Citizens may self-petition.  Also, U.S. citizens can petition for their adult children (over 21 years) and brothers, both single and married; however these cases have a longer wait time.

U.S. immigration law is complex and limits the number of immigrant visas issued annually in some categories and by some countries.  When the number of applicants in any given category exceeds the yearly allocation of visas, the applicant is moved to a waiting list. Immigrant visa applicants will receive an interview in chronological order, according to the date the petition was filled. This date is called the priority date.

Cases filed by legal permanent resident have a priority date that dictates when the applicant will receive an interview.  The U.S. Immigration and Nationality Act also allow legal permanent residents to petition their spouse and unmarried children of any age.  You can also obtain residency through a work contract with a U.S. company.

For additional information on immigrant visas, please go to We hope this information has been helpful for immigrant visa applicants.