Family reunification has been an important goal of U.S. immigration laws. However, not all family relationships serve as a basis for permanent residency. Under the Immigration and Naturalization Act (INA), immediate relatives and preference immigrants can apply for a family-based immigration visas/green cards.
“Immediate relatives” include:
- Spouses of U.S. citizens. (This is the fastest way to get a green card.)
- Minor children (under age 21) of U.S. citizens
- Parents of U.S. citizens (the petitioner must be at least 21 years old)
- Spouses of deceased U.S. citizens who were married at least two years prior to their U.S. citizens spouse’s death and who file within two years of the death anniversary of the spouse and while still unmarried
- A child born after the issuance of an immediate relative visa, but before the visa is used to apply for admission to the U.S.
“Preference immigrants” include:
- First preference: unmarried sons or daughters of U.S. citizens, includes those children age 21 or older
- Second preference: (1) spouses or children of an alien lawfully admitted for permanent residence; and (2) unmarried sons or daughters (not the children) of an alien lawfully admitted for permanent residence
- Third preference: married sons or daughters of citizens of the United States
- Fourth preference: brothers or sisters of citizens of the U.S. (citizens at least 21 years of age)
- Derivative beneficiaries: spouse or child of the principal alien under the family-sponsored preferences is entitled to the same status and order of consideration
There can be a long wait for family-based immigration visas. NPZ Law Group often arranges nonimmigrant visas for family members who qualify to keep them in the United States while the family-based immigration visa is pending.