Family Preference Categories
Family Preference Categories Available
The immediate relative categories are for an exclusive group of relationships with a U.S. citizen. However, the family preference categories include all other qualifying family relationships with a U.S. citizen and some specified relationships with a lawful permanent resident. The family preference categories include:
Unmarried, adult sons and daughters (age 21 or over) of U.S. citizens
Spouses and unmarried children (under age 21) of permanent residents
Unmarried adult sons and daughters of permanent residents
Married sons and daughters (any age) of U.S. citizens
Brothers and sisters of adult U.S. citizens
If you do not fit one of these categories, you may fit into the immediate relative categories. Immediate relative immigrant visas are available for the spouse, unmarried children, and parents of U.S. citizens. Grandparents, grandchildren, nephews, nieces, uncles, aunts, cousins and in-laws cannot be directly petitioned.
Establishing a Family Preference Relationship
The family-based immigration process generally begins with the U.S. citizen or permanent resident sponsor filing Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative. The I-130 petition establishes a qualifying relationship and is a request for a visa number.
U.S. citizens may also sponsor a foreign fiancé to come to the United States for the purpose of marriage. The U.S. citizen starts this process by filing Form I-129F, Petition for Alien Fiancé. The foreign fiancé eventually enters the U.S. with a non-immigrant K-1 visa.
Consular processing is the process of obtaining an immigrant visa (green card) from outside the United States at a U.S. embassy or consulate.
Adjustment of Status
Adjustment of status is the process that a nonimmigrant visitor (student, tourist, etc.) uses to change status to a permanent resident from inside the U.S.
Using the Visa Bulletin
There is a limited number of family preference immigrant visas (green cards) available each year. Typically, this means most people have to wait for an immigrant visa. The process is first-in, first-out. For example, the first Form I-130 filed will be the petition to provide an immigrant visa number. Therefore, the petitioner should file Form I-130 as soon as possible.
The U.S. Department of State will use the I-130 petition filing date as the applicant's priority date. The State Department uses a visa bulletin to communicate when an intending immigrant's priority date is reached. To determine your wait, you’ll need to monitor the visa bulletin.
To immigrate through the family preference categories, there are several requirements:
Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative
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