Parents of U.S. Citizens, sons, daughters, and children of U.S. Citizens and of lawful permanent residents, and siblings of U.S. Citizens, plus fiancés of U.S. Citizens can enter the United States with either an immigrant or non-immigrant visa. There are many options available to family members of U.S. Citizens and lawful permanent residents, but cases subject to preference categories can take many years to complete.
Parents, spouses and unmarried children under 21 years of age of U.S. Citizens are considered “immediate relatives” and are not subject to the quota system. Other relatives, such as sons and daughters (children over the age of 21) of lawful permanent residents are subject to the preference system which determines who is given priority entry into the United States. The preference categories and numerical limitations as set forth on the Visa Bulletin from the U.S. Department of State are defined as follows:
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.
Immigration for family members can take many years depending on the preference ranking. The most current online visa bulletin gives those who are waiting an idea of how long the wait is before they can apply for either adjustment of status in the United States or an immigrant visa. The link to the Visa Bulletin can be found on this website under “useful links.”