What is family-based immigration?
Family-based immigration is a pathway for foreign nationals to obtain permanent residency (green card) in the United States based on their close family relationships with U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents. This system is designed to promote family reunification, allowing eligible family members to live and work in the U.S. permanently.
There are two main categories for family-based immigration:
- Immediate Relatives: This category is reserved for the closest family members of U.S. citizens, including spouses, unmarried children under the age of 21, and parents (if the U.S. citizen petitioner is at least 21 years old). There is no annual cap on the number of visas issued in this category, which means that there is no waiting period for visa availability once the petition is approved.
- Family Preference Categories: This category is for more distant family members of U.S. citizens and certain family members of lawful permanent residents. The family preference categories are divided into four groups (F1, F2A, F2B, F3, and F4), with each group having a specific set of eligible relationships and annual visa limits. The waiting time for visa availability in these categories depends on the demand for visas and the applicant’s country of origin.