FAMILY-BASED IMMIGRATION

First: (F1) Unmarried Sons and Daughters of U.S. Citizens: 23,400 plus any numbers not required for fourth preference.

Second: Spouses and Children, and Unmarried Sons and Daughters of Permanent Residents: 114,200, plus the number (if any) by which the worldwide family preference level exceeds 226,000, plus any unused first preference numbers:

A. (F2A) Spouses and Children of Permanent Residents: 77% of the overall second preference limitation, of which 75% are exempt from the per-country limit;
B. (F2B) Unmarried Sons and Daughters (21 years of age or older) of Permanent Residents: 23% of the overall second preference limitation.

Third: (F3) Married Sons and Daughters of U.S. Citizens: 23,400, plus any numbers not required by first and second preferences.

Fourth: (F4) Brothers and Sisters of Adult U.S. Citizens: 65,000, plus any numbers not required by first three preferences.

Application Process: Green Card (Permanent Residence)

To petition for a family member to receive a green card (permanent residence), you begin by filing Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative. This form establishes the family relationship that exists between you and your relative. Sometimes the I-130 can be filed together with an application for permanent residence, officially know as Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status.

What Happens Next?

  • If your relative is already in the United States, he or she may apply to adjust status to become a green card holder (permanent resident) after a visa number becomes available using Form I-485.
  • If your relative is outside the United States, your petition will be sent to the National Visa Center (NVC). The NVC will forward your petition to the appropriate U.S. consulate when a visa becomes available and your relative will be notified about how to proceed. This process is referred to as “Consular Processing.”
  • Your family member’s preference category will determine how long he or she will have to wait for an immigrant visa number. Once you have filed a petition, you can check its progress the “My Case Status” page. For visa availability information, see the “Visa Bulletin” page on the U.S. Department of State website.