Family-based Immigration

The following categories of foreign nationals may obtain green cards through family: parents, spouses and unmarried children (must be under 21) of U.S. citizens 21 or older (immediate relatives), 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, as well as spouses and unmarried children of green card holders (preference categories), battered spouses or children, persons granted K-1 (fiance(e) of U.S. citizen) or K-3 (spouse of U.S. citizen) visas, widowers of U.S. citizens, V nonimmigrants, and certain children born in the U.S. to foreign diplomats.

Green Cards for Immediate Relatives

Eligible immediate relatives include the U.S. citizen’s:

  • Spouses (for more information regarding validity of marriage for immigration purposes, see our Marriage-Based Immigration page).
  • Unmarried children under the age of 21  (for more information regarding parent-child relationship for immigration purposes see here).
  • Parents (if the U.S. citizen is over the age of 21)

Immediate relatives do not have to wait in line for a visa number to become available for them to obtain green cards because there are an unlimited number of visas for their particular categories (no quota or limitation on the number of green cards).

Green Cards for Other Relatives

If your family members do not fit into the immediate relative category, they may be able to benefit from one of the following family sponsored “preference categories”:

First Preference Category (F1)

Eligible immediate relatives include:  Unmarried Sons and Daughters of U.S. Citizens.

Second Preference Category (F2)

Eligible immediate relatives include:

F2A Spouses and Children of Permanent Residents;

F2B Unmarried Sons and Daughters (21 years of age or older) of Permanent Residents.

Third Preference Category (F3)

Eligible immediate relatives include:  Married Sons and Daughters of U.S. Citizens.

Fourth Preference Category (F4)

Eligible immediate relatives include: Brothers and Sisters of Adult U.S. Citizens.