Foreign nationals who have an immediate relationship with a U.S. Citizen or a Permanent Resident may be eligible to apply for permanent residency via a family-based petition and either a consular process in their country or adjustment of status if they are currently in the U.S.
For immigration purposes, only parents, spouses, and children (who are unmarried and under 21 years of age) of a U.S. citizen can be considered an immediate relative. All immediate relatives of a U.S. citizen 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 waiting 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.
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”.
Unmarried Sons and Daughters of U.S. Citizens.
Spouses and Children, and Unmarried Sons and Daughters of Permanent Residents.
Married Sons and Daughters of U.S. Citizens.
Brothers and Sisters of Adult U.S. Citizens.
Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals
SAME-SEX MARRIAGE RIGHTS:
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.
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.