Family-based Petitions

These are immigrant visas based on a petition filed
by a relative US citizen.

Immediate Relatives

This category is restricted to spouses of U.S. citizens, sons under 21 years of age (including adoptive), and parents (father or mother) of a U.S. citizen older than 21 years.  These visas are not subject to a numerical limit within the maximum quota of visas approved for each year according to the law (480,000.00) and therefore could lead (prior compliance with the requirements established by law) to obtain permanent residency without the need of that may take the waiting period required for other categories of family members.

Family Preference Immigrant Visas (Limited)

These visa types are for specific, more distant, family relationships with a U.S. citizen and some specified relationships with a Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR). There are fiscal year numerical limitations on family preference immigrants, shown at the end of each category. The family preference categories are:

  • First Preference (F1): Unmarried sons and daughters above 21 years old of U.S. citizens

  • Family Second Preference (F2): Spouses, minor children, and unmarried sons and daughters (age 21 and over) of LPRs. At least seventy-seven percent of all visas available for this category will go to the spouses and children; the remainder is allocated to unmarried sons and daughters. (114,200)

  • Family Third Preference (F3): Married sons and daughters of U.S. citizens, and their spouses and minor children. (23,400)

  • Family Fourth Preference (F4): Brothers and sisters of U.S. citizens, and their spouses and minor children, provided the U.S. citizens are at least 21 years of age.

Limitations and approval process
Whenever the number of qualified applicants for a category exceeds the available immigrant visas, there will be an immigration wait. In this situation, the available immigrant visas will be issued in the chronological order in which the petitions were filed using their priority date. The filing date of a petition becomes what is called the applicant’s priority date. Immigrant visas cannot be issued until an applicant’s priority date is reached. In certain categories with many approved petitions compared to available visas, there may be a waiting period of several years, or more, before a priority date is reached.

News and Updates
Check the Visa Bulletin (with the Department of State publishes every month to establish whether the priority date has been reached).

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