To promote family unity, the U.S. immigration law allows U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents to petition for certain qualified relatives. This allows them to come and live permanently in the United State as a lawful permanent resident i.e. ‘green card holder’. Family-based (FB) is one of the most-used methods of receiving a lawful permanent residency and can be filed either by U.S. citizens, or lawful permanent residents.
Due to unlimited number of visas for their category, immediate relatives do not have a wait for the availability of a visa. Eligible immediate relatives include the U.S. citizen’s spouse, unmarried child under the age of 21, and parent (if the U.S. citizen is over the age of 21). The term preference relative on the other hand applies to relatives of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent resident’s i.e., unmarried sons and/or daughters over the age of 21 of U.S. citizens; married child(ren) of any age of U.S. citizens; brothers and sisters of U.S. citizen if the U.S. citizen is over the age of 21, spouses, minor child(ren), and unmarried sons and/or daughters over the age of 21 of U.S. Lawful Permanent Residents. Preference relatives cannot obtain lawful permanent residency status until their priority date is current.
Procedure & Requirement
- The US Citizen or the Lawful Permanent Resident must file an immigrant petition (Form I-130) on behalf of the intended immigrant;
- Qualifying family relationship should be documented with the petition;
- Family-based petitions require an affidavit of support.
- Visa availability for immediate relative is always current i.e. if the immediate relative is in the U.S. then s/he may be eligible to file an application for adjustment of status;
- Due to annual numerical limitations, preference relatives face long waiting times;
- Wait time for preference relatives depends upon the FB category and the country of birth of the preference relative.