Family-Based Green Cards

U.S. citizens or permanent residents may sponsor foreign relatives through family-based visas. Family-based visas offer families the opportunity to reunite and stay together. This immigration process begins with the US citizen or permanent resident filing a visa petition on behalf of the foreign relative. Immigration visas are given priority as follows:

Immediate relatives

United States citizens’ spouses (under restricted circumstances, a U.S. citizen’s widow or widower) Unmarried children under 21 years of age of a US citizen (step-children and adopted children often qualify) United States citizens’ parents

First Preference

  • U.S. citizens’ unmarried sons and daughters (21 years or older)

Second Preference

  • Lawful permanent residents’ spouses and children under 21 years of age
  • Lawful permanent residents’ unmarried sons and daughters (21 years or older)

Third Preference

  • U.S. citizens’ married sons and daughters (21 years or older)

Immediate relatives

  • U.S. citizens’ brothers and sisters

There are no quotas to restrict visa applications for immediate relatives. However, the other preference categories are limited, and visas must become available.

Immediate relatives able to adjust status in the United States also have the advantage of filing the family-based visa petition and adjustment of status applications at the same time, along with work authorization and a travel permit.

Conditional permanent resident status

Immigrant spouses married less than two years are granted conditional permanent status. The sponsoring spouse must file a petition to remove conditional status two years from the date conditional status was granted. Other family-related visas include the following:
  • K-1 – U.S. entry for an immigrant fiancé to marry a U.S. citizen within a 90-day time period
  • K-2 – U.S. entry for a K-1 visa holder’s children
  • K-3 – Allows a U.S. citizen’s immigrant spouse to enter and seek permanent resident status in the United States
  • K-4 – U.S. entry for a K-3 visa holder’s unmarried children (under 21)
  • F-2 – U.S. entry for a university student F-1 visa holder’s spouse and children
  • J-2 – U.S. entry for a J-1 visa holder’s spouse and children
  • L-2 – U.S. entry for a U.S. branch international company employee’s immediate family members
  • H-4 – U.S. entry for an H-1B visa holder’s immediate family members

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