Family unification remains one of the principal cornerstones of the United States’ system of lawful immigration. Family-based immigrants fall into two main categories:
- Immediate relatives of U.S. citizens who are not subject to quota restrictions; and
- Preference immigrants, or immigrants admitted under a system of worldwide and country-specific quotas.
Immediate Relatives of U.S. Citizens
U.S. immigration law provides for the immigration of parents, spouses, and unmarried, minor children (under 21 years old) of United States citizens without quota restrictions.
Family-Based Preference Immigrants
Preference immigrants who are eligible to immigrate subject to quota restrictions are classified into the following preference categories:
- 1st Preference/FB1 – Unmarried, adult sons and daughters of U.S. citizens
- 2nd Preference/FB2A – Spouses and unmarried, minor sons and daughters of LPRs
- 2nd Preference/FB2B – Unmarried, adult sons and daughters of LPRs
- 3rd Preference/FB3 – Married, adult sons and daughters of U.S. citizens
- 4th Preference/FB4 – Siblings of U.S. citizens
The processing of a family-based application is commenced with the filing of a Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, with USCIS. The U.S. citizen or LPR files a Form I-130 on behalf of the alien beneficiary. Preference immigrants are then placed on a visa waiting list based on their “priority date,” or the date the Form I-130 was filed.
For information on specific family-based immigration provisions and issues, click here.