FAMILY-BASED IMMIGRATION

U.S Citizenship & Immigration Services

ELEGIBILTY

Foreign nationals who are close relatives of a U.S. Citizen or Lawful Permanent Resident may be eligible to apply for permanent residency via a family-based petition and either a consular processing in their country or adjustment of status if they are currently in the U.S. and a visa is immediately available.

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IMMEDIATE RELATIVES

Immediate relatives of U.S. citizens can immigrate to the United States without being subject to any numerical restrictions, unlike other close family members of U.S. citizens and/or permanent residents. Specifically, they can apply for the permanent resident status without having to deal with any wait time. Other close family members of U.S. citizens or permanent residents are divided into several groups called “Preferences”. Each Preference is given a numerical quota per year to limit the number of immigrants admitted into the United States.

You are an immediate relative if you are:

  • The spouse of a U.S. citizen;

  • The unmarried child under 21 years of age of a U.S. citizen; or

  • The parent of a U.S. citizen (if the U.S. citizen is 21 years of age or older).

Currently, there is no wait time for spouses and unmarried children under 21 years of age of lawful permanent residents (Second Preference A – F2A), so they may apply for adjustment of status concurrently if they entered the United States legally or for consular processing immediately after the I-130 petition is approved.

FAMILY-SPONSORED PREFERENCES

Other close family members of a U.S. citizen can qualify to immigrate to the United States, but unlike the immediate relatives of a U.S. citizen, they are subject to a numerical limit of immigrant visas available to them each year. Close family members are divided into several groups called “Preferences”. 

FIRST

Unmarried sons and daughters over 21 years of age of U.S. citizens

SECOND (F2B)

Unmarried sons and daughters over 21 years of age of U.S. citizens

THIRD

Married sons and daughters of U.S. citizens

FOURTH

Brothers and sisters of U.S. citizens (if the U.S. citizen is 21 years of age and older).

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The preference immigrant categories are subject to numerical restrictions. The U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident may apply for them, but they can only obtain their green card when a visa becomes available for their category.

OTHER CATEGORIES

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DEFERRED ACTION FOR CHILDHOOD ARRIVALS - DACA

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SAME-SEX MARRIAGE RIGHTS:

On June 15, 2012, the Secretary of Homeland Security announced that certain people who came to the United States as children and meet several guidelines may request consideration of deferred action for a period of two years, subject to renewal. They are also eligible for work authorization. Deferred action is a use of prosecutorial discretion to defer removal action against an individual for a certain period of time. Deferred action does not provide lawful status. Learn more about it at the USCIS website.

On June 26, 2013, the United States Supreme Court held in United States v. Windsor that the federal interpretation of ‘marriage’ and ‘spouse’ as legislated in Section 3 of ‘DOMA’ to that of strictly heterosexual unions was unconstitutional because it denied legally married same-sex couples their due process under the Fifth Amendment. As a result, same-sex couples now have all of the same rights for immigration. Learn more about it at the USCIS website.

*Due to a federal court order, USCIS has resumed accepting requests to renew a grant of deferred action under DACA. USCIS is not accepting requests from individuals who have never before been granted deferred action under DACA. Until further notice, and unless otherwise provided in this guidance, the DACA policy will be operated on the terms in place before it was rescinded on Sept. 5, 2017.