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Family Based Green Card Applications

Immediate Relatives

The immediate relative category has special immigration priority. The immigrants in this category 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 available to immediate relatives. This category includes:

  • Spouse of a U.S. citizen;
  • Unmarried child (under 21 years of age) of a U.S. citizen;
  • Parent of a U.S. citizen who is at least 21 years of age.

Preference Base Categories

Family preference base immigration has four categories, F1 through F4, and covers U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents. Unlike immediate relative immigration where a visa is always immediately available, you have to wait with family preference base immigration. How long you have to wait depends on the category, and the relationship with U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident.

The categories are as follows:

  • First preference (F1) – unmarried sons and daughters, 21 years of age and older, of U.S. citizens;
  • Second preference (F2A) – spouses and children (unmarried and under 21 years of age) of lawful permanent residents;
  • Second preference (F2B) – unmarried sons and daughters, 21 years of age and older, of lawful permanent residents;
  • Third preference (F3) – married sons and daughters of U.S. citizens; and
  • Fourth preference (F4) – brothers and sisters of U.S. citizens (if the U.S. citizen is 21 years of age and older).

The way to keep track of how long you have to wait to use an approved immigrant visa petition in a preference category is to check the Visa Bulletin issued by the Department of State.