If you are a US Citizen or Legal Permanent Resident of the United States and wish to have family members immigrate to join you here, your citizenship status and relation to the immigrating family member determines their eligibility and the timeframe for immigration benefits.
Family-based immigration to the United States falls into one of two categories: immediate relative or family preference.
There is an unlimited number of visas available every year for immediate relatives of U.S. citizens. An immediate relative of a U.S. citizen is classified as a spouse, an unmarried child under age 21, or a parent. A child can be your biological child, a step-child (marriage creating the step-child relationship must have occurred prior to the step-child’s 18th birthday) or an adopted child.
For non-immediate relatives, there are four categories of relatives which have limited allocated visas per year called “Preference Categories.” There is a cap on how many green cards can be issued to each category every year. The categories are described below:
- First Preference group includes unmarried sons and daughters (over age 21) of U.S. citizens.
- Second Preference is broken up into 2 groups, A and B. Group A includes spouses of Permanent Residents and unmarried children (under age 21) of permanent residents. Group B includes unmarried sons and daughters (over age 21) of permanent residents.
- Third Preference group includes married sons and daughters of U.S. citizens of any age, and the
- Fourth Preference group includes brothers and sisters of an adult U.S. citizen.
It is important to be aware that waiting for a visa through family sponsorship can be a lengthy process. In some circumstances, family members may be faced with waiting over 20 years before a visa becomes available for them. Some applicants from Mexico who are waiting in the First Preference group have been waiting since September of 1996 and for applicants from the Philippines since October of 2005.
Applicants from Mexico in the First Preference group are currently looking at a 22 year wait for a visa while applicants from the Philippines in the Fourth Preference group have a 24 year wait.
For more information about the immigration eligibility of your family members, please contact our office for a consultation about your case.