Immigration and Nationality Act(Section 201) sets 226,000 family-based immigrant visas to qualified applicants. Each country is limited to receive 7% of the quota.
Family based immigrant visas are divided into four preference categories. Immediate relatives of U.S. citizens have special immigration priority and are not limited by the annual visa quota.
Family Based Green Card Preferences
Preference categories apply to family members who are not immediate relatives. The visas alloted for these categories are subject to annual numerical limits. A visa becomes available to a preference category based on the priority date (the date the Form I-130 was filed).
Family Green Card Qualification:
- First preference(F1): Unmarried, adult sons and daughters of U.S. citizens (adult means 21 or older): 23,400 plus any numbers not required for fourth preference.
- Second preference(F2): Spouses and Children, and Unmarried Sons and Daughters of Permanent Residents: 114,200, plus the number (if any) by which the worldwide family preference level exceeds 226,000, plus any unused first preference numbers:
- A. (F2A) Spouses of green card holders, unmarried children (under 21) of permanent residents: 77% of the overall second preference limitation, of which 75% are exempt from the per-country limit;
- B. (F2B) Unmarried Sons and Daughters (21 years of age or older) of Permanent Residents: 23% of the overall second preference limitation.
Third:(F3) Married Sons and Daughters (any age) of U.S. Citizens: 23,400, plus any numbers not required by first and second preferences.
- Fourth:(F4) Brothers and Sisters of Adult U.S. Citizens: 65,000, plus any numbers not required by first three preferences.
People may be eligible to get a Green Card as
- an immediate relative of a U.S. citizen, this includes spouses, unmarried children under the age of 21, and parents of U.S. citizen petitioners 21 or older,
- a family member of a U.S. citizen fitting into a preference category, this includes unmarried sons or daughters over the age of 21, married children of any age, and brothers and sisters of U.S. citizen petitioners 21 or older
- a family member of a green card holder, this includes spouses and unmarried children of the sponsoring green card holder
- a member of a special category, this can include battered spouse or child (VAWA), a K nonimmigrant, a person born to a foreign diplomat in the United States, a V nonimmigrant or a widow(er) of a U.S. Citizen
If you are fiance of U.S. Citizen, and intend to marry within 90 days of entering the United States, you are qualified for Fiancé(e) Visa.
After admission, you may immediately apply for permission to work by filing a Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization.
Green Card for an Immediate Relative of a U.S. Citizen
Immigration law allows U.S. citizens to petition for certain qualified relatives to come and live permanently in the United States.
Immediate relatives have special immigration priority and do not have to wait in line for a visa number to become available for them to immigrate because there are an unlimited number of visas for their particular categories.
Eligible immediate relatives include the U.S. citizen’s:
Green Card for a Family Member of a U.S. Citizen
- Unmarried child under the age of 21
- Parent (if the U.S. citizen is over the age of 21)
If your relationship does not qualify you as an immediate relative of a U.S. citizen, then people may be in what is called a “family preference category.”
Congress has limited the number of relatives who may immigrate under these categories each year so there is usually a waiting period before an immigrant visa number becomes available.
Eligible relatives include:
Green Card for a Family Member of a Permanent Resident(Family 2nd Preference category)
- Unmarried sons or daughters over the age of 21
- Married child(ren) of any age
- Brothers and sisters (if the U.S. citizen petitioner is over the age of 21)
A permanent resident may petition for his/her spouse and unmarried child(ren) of any age to immigrate to the United States. Congress has limited the number of relatives who may immigrate under these categories each year so there is generally a waiting period before an immigrant visa number becomes available.
Green Card Through Special Categories of Family
You may be able to become a permanent resident (get a green card) through a special family situation.
These adjustment of status programs are limited to individuals who meet particular qualifications and/or apply during certain time frames.
- Battered Spouse or Child (VAWA)
- K Nonimmigrant (includes fiancé(e))
- Person Born to a Foreign Diplomat in the United States
- V Nonimmigrant
- Widow(er) of a U.S. Citizen
Last Updated: 8/29/2014.