Family Immigration
Understanding Family-based Preference Categories

Understanding Family-based Preference Categories

Understanding Family-based Preference Categories

Many people might know that there are different family preferences for getting a family-based green card. United States immigration law does allow certain noncitizens who are family members of US citizens and lawful permanent residents to become lawful permanent residents themselves. In other words, the law lets them get a green card. 

If you would like to know more about your family member’s eligibility, speak with an immigration attorney right away. 

Eligible Family Members

Immediate family members of US citizens include the spouse of a US citizen, the unmarried child under 21 of a US citizen, or the parent of a US citizen over the age of 21. These immediate relatives can apply for an adjustment of status to obtain lawful permanent resident status while you are in the US. 

If you are a widow or widower of a US citizen, you can apply for a green card, even if you have been married for less than two years. You must prove you entered into the marriage in good faith. If your spouse has already filed for a green card on your behalf, you do not need to do anything else. Eventually, you will have to prove you were still married at the time of your spouse’s death.

Relatives who are not immediate family members may still qualify to become lawful permanent residents based on their family relationships. These other family members eligible to apply for a green card qualify for the following preference immigrant categories:

  • First preference (F1) – unmarried children (21 years of age and older) of US citizens;
  • Second preference (F2A) – spouses and unmarried minor children of lawful permanent residents;
  • Second preference (F2B) – unmarried adult children of lawful permanent residents;
  • Third preference (F3) – married children of US citizens; and
  • Fourth preference (F4) – brothers and sisters of U. citizens (if the US citizen is 21 years of age and older).

If you fall into one of these groups and are eligible for a green card, you may become a lawful permanent resident. 

Eligibility to Receive an Immigrant Visa

You are eligible to receive an immigrant visa if:

  • You properly file Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status;
  • You were inspected and admitted or inspected and paroled into the United States;
  • You are physically present in the United States at the time you file your Form I-485;
  • You are eligible to receive an immigrant visa;
  • An immigrant visa is immediately available to you at the time you file your Form I-485, and at the time USCIS makes a final decision on your application;    
    • Note: A visa is always available for immediate relatives.
  • The relationship to the family member who filed Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, for you still exists;
  • None of the applicable bars to adjustment apply to you;
  • You are admissible to the United States for lawful permanent residence or eligible for a waiver of inadmissibility or another form of relief; and

You may have a bar to the adjustment of your status. These include entering the US illegally and committing certain crimes. Some of these bars are:

  • working in the US without authorization, 
  • you are not currently legally in the US, 
  • you failed to maintain lawful status while in the US
  • you were last admitted to the US in transit without a visa
  • you last entered the US under the VWP
  • you have ever violated the terms of your nonimmigrant status

You may still be able to file for adjustment, but you need a good immigration attorney to help you obtain a waiver of inadmissibility.

Consult with an Immigration Lawyer Today

Vestal Immigration Law assists families in reuniting in the United States and obtaining their necessary green cards and legal status. Contact our office for more information about your options.

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