Understanding the Family Immigration Categories

Immediate Relatives

If you are a U.S. citizen who wants to help your relatives immigrate into the U.S. and receive a green card, you must first sponsor them by petitioning for their immigrant visa.

amcarilaw.com family immigrationImmediate Relative (IR) immigrant visas are available for certain close relatives of a U.S. citizen, including their spouse, unmarried children under 21, and parents. This means that these close relatives do not need to wait for a visa number to become available; their visa number becomes available immediately. There are 5 categories of IR immigrant visas that a U.S. citizen can use to help bring their loved ones into the U.S. They include:

  • IR-1: U.S. citizen’s spouse;
  • IR-2: U.S. citizen’s unmarried child under 21;
  • IR-3: U.S. citizen’s child adopted abroad;
  • IR-4: U.S. citizen’s child adopted in the US; and
  • IR-5: U.S. citizen’s parent over 21.

Non-Immediate Relatives

To help immigrate more distant relatives that do not classify as immediate relatives, a U.S. citizen or U.S. permanent resident can still sponsor them under a “family preference category,” but there will be a delay in getting a visa number. Family preference categories apply to a U.S. citizen’s unmarried children over 21, married children, and siblings (F1, F3, and F4 visas) OR a U.S. permanent resident’s spouse and unmarried child (F2A and F2B  visas). Visa numbers are doled out annually in the following preferential order:

  • F1: U.S. citizen’s unmarried child over 21;
  • F2A: U.S. permanent resident’s spouse and unmarried child under 21;
  • F2B: U.S. permanent resident’s unmarried child over 21;
  • F3: U.S. citizen’s married child any age; and
  • F4: U.S. citizen’s (themselves over 21) sibling.

Keep in mind, the lower a relative is on the family preference categories, the longer it takes to get an immigrant visa.



About Mac-Arthur Pierre-Louis

Mac Pierre-Louis is managing attorney at Pierre-Louis & Associates, PLLC and founding editor of Amcarilaw.com (@amcarilaw) & YourChildSupportLawyer.com (@childsupportesq). He can be reached at www.macpierrelouis.com (@macpierrelouis) No content on this blog should be deemed legal advice, nor does content create an attorney-client relationship. Please seek professional legal advice since this blog is for informational purposes only.

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