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What Are Family Preference Categories?

What Are Family Preference Categories?

What Are Family Preference Categories?

A foreign citizen or national who wishes to live permanently in the United States must apply and obtain an immigrant visa (IV). The first step in obtaining an IV is having an immediate family member file a petition with the United States government.  Requirements for who can file for which family members varies based on if the petitioner is a United States citizen or a Legal Permanent Resident (green card holder). For an adult-child to petition for a parent, the adult-child needs to be at least twenty-one (21) years old. Other types of immediate relatives may petition sooner than twenty-one (21) years old if that person meets other guidelines. 

At Vestal Immigration Law, we help families in and around Hickory, North Carolina, successfully navigate under the IV process.

There are two forms of family-based immigrant visas:

Immediate Relative – these are immigrant visas based on a close family relationship between the foreign-born person and a U.S. citizen, such as a spouse, child, or parent. There is no limitation for the number of immigrants that can migrate to the United States under this category.

Family Preference – this is a family-based immigrant category for visas for specific, family members of a U.S. citizen who do not qualify as an immediate relative and some specified family relationships with a Green Cardholder. Unlike the immediate relative category, the number of immigrants who can migrate under this category is limited each fiscal year.

The family preference category is broken into subparts as follows:

  • First preference (F1) – unmarried sons and daughters (21 years of age and older) of U.S. citizens,
  • Second preference (F2A) – Spouses and children (unmarried and under 21 years of age) of lawful permanent residents,
  • Second preference (F2B) – unmarried sons and daughters (21 years of age and older) of lawful permanent residents,
  • Third preference (F3) – married sons and daughters of U.S. citizens; and
  • Fourth preference (F4) – Brothers and sisters of U.S. citizens (if the U.S. citizen is 21 years of age and older).

Eligibility for Adjustment of Status

If you are physically in the United States and wish to apply for a green card, you will do so under a process known as “adjustment of status.” To apply under this process, you first must meet eligibility requirements, which are as follows:

  • You have properly filed the appropriate application form and paid the fee for it;
  • You were inspected and admitted or inspected and paroled into the United States at a legal point of entry;
  • You are physically present in the United States at the time you file your application;
  • You are eligible to receive an immigrant visa, meaning there are no bars of eligibility that would prevent you from being approved for an immigrant visa;
  • An immigrant visa is immediately available to you in your filing category at the time you file your application form and at the time the immigration office makes a final decision on your application; 
  • The family relationship between you and the family member who filed a petition for you still exists; and
  • You are admissible to the United States for lawful permanent residence.

Speak with a North Carolina Immigration Lawyer Today

If you need help with your family-based immigration, contact the Hickory, North Carolina office of Vestal Immigration Law today for a consultation.

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