2 Types of Immigrant Visa Petitions for Families

Both American citizens and legal permanent residents (green card holders) are allowed to petition their relatives in another country to come and legally live in the United States. U.S. immigration law allows the two major types of family-based petitions for immigrant status: family preference and immediate relative petitions.

Immediate Relative Petitions

An “immediate relative” is defined by the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) as the spouse of a U.S. citizen. The immediate relative can also be the U.S. citizen’s parent, as long as the citizen is over 21 years of age. If the immediate relative is a child of a U.S. citizen, the child should be under 21. Immigration prioritizes the immediate relatives of a U.S. citizen, which means the relatives don’t have to wait for an available visa number, as the green cards available for them are unlimited.

Only U.S. citizens can file immediate relative petitions. You can hire an immigration lawyer to make the process easier.

Family Preference Petitions

Family preference petitions can be filed by both U.S. citizens and green card holder sponsors. For U.S. citizens, these family relationships qualify for family preference petitions:

  • Unmarried children over the age of 21
  • Married children of any age
  • Brothers and sisters, but only if the petitioner is over the age of 21

As for green card holders, these family relationships are eligible for family preference petitions:

  • The petitioner’s spouse
  • Unmarried children of any age

An immigration attorney is likely to advise you to apply for an immediate relative petition instead of a family preference petition if the choices are available to you, as your relative doesn’t have to wait for an available visa number if the application for an immediate relative petition is approved.

For more information, get in touch with The Costas Network Law Center at (216) 577-7612 – Ohio or (346) 333-0703 – Texas. You can also use this to contact us.


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