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Green Card Family Preference Category

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Green Card Family Preference Category

A family preference category exists for some family members of a green card petitioner. The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) sets aside a number of visas for immediate family members. It also sets aside visas for those in the family preference category.

Who Is Considered an Immediate Family Member?

An immediate relative is defined as:

  • A parent
  • A spouse
  • Any child who is under 21 years of age and unmarried

Which Non-Immediate Family Members Are Included in the Family Preference Category?

A family member not in the immediate category can still be sponsored. The following relations are also eligible for the family preference category:

  • Siblings
  • Unmarried daughters and sons
  • Married children

Siblings are only eligible if the petitioner is over 21 years old. Any unmarried daughter or son must be over the age of 21 years old. Married children are not limited by age.

How to Receive a Green Card While in the U.S.

An individual in the family preference green card category can obtain one while in the U.S. by doing the following two things:

Form I-130 must be approved before the completing any other forms. The person must also wait for a current priority date for the immigrant visa category. A priority date is the date when the I-130 was filed without any mistakes.

How to Receive a Green Card While Outside the U.S.

A family preference member can receive a green card through consular processing. Consular processing is where USCIS and U.S. Department of State issue a visa for the relative. The Form I-130 petition is approved first. The green card is granted when one becomes available.

The individual will become a permanent resident upon entry into the United States.

Should I Talk to a Lawyer about the Family Preference Category?

Immigration laws are extremely complex. A family member may seem to fit into the family preference category, when they are actually ineligible. You should contact an immigration lawyer to discuss helping a family member obtain a visa.


Photo of page author Taelonnda Sewell

, LegalMatch Legal Writer

Last Modified: 05-30-2018 10:08 PM PDT

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