Family Based Immigration Visas
There are 2 big categories in family based immigration: Immediate Relatives or Family Preference Immigrants.
Immediate Relatives of US Citizens are defined as
- spouses of U.S. citizens;
- unmarried minor children of U.S. citizens (under 21 years old);
- parents of U.S. citizens, who must be at least 21 years old at the time of petitioning
There are no limits on the numbers of visas issued annually to Immediate Relatives. You may be able to receive your green card very quickly.
If you are not an “immediate relative,” there are five family based preference categories.
• First preference: Unmarried sons and daughters (over 21 years old) of U.S. Citizens.
• Second preference: Spouses & minor children of green card holders (2A) or unmarried adult children of green card holders (2B).
• Third preference: Married sons and daughter of U.S. citizens
• Fourth preference: Brothers and sisters of adult U.S. citizens.
There are 480,000 family based immigration visas available. After subtracting the number of visas issued to Immediate Relatives during the previous fiscal year and the number of individuals paroled in, any visas unused by the employment preference categories are added. By law, there is an annual minimum of 226,000 family preference immigrant visas.
As a consequence, there is often greater demand for family based immigrant visas than there are actual immigrant visas available in a given fiscal year. You can check the current visa bulletin here!