Green Card for Other Family Members of a U.S. Citizen (that are not parents, spouse, or children)
Aside from a spouse, unmarried children under the age of 21, and parents, all other eligible relatives fall under “family preference categories” described below. Visa availability to family members under preference categories are limited.
Family First Preference (F1): Unmarried children of U.S. Citizens, and their minor children. There are 23,400 visas available for this category every year.
Family Second Preference (F2): Spouses, unmarried children under the age of 21, and unmarried children over the age of 21 of Legal Permanent Residents. There are 114,200 visas available for this category every year, of which 77% will go to spouses and children under the age of 21, and the remainder is allocated to unmarried children over the age of 21. For more information, go to Green Card for a Family Member of a Lawful Permanent Resident.
Family Third Preference (F3): Married sons and daughters of U.S. Citizens, and their spouses and minor children. There are 23,400 visas available for this category every year.
Family Fourth Preference (F4): Brothers and sisters of U.S. Citizens at least 21 years of age, and their spouses and minor children. There are 65,000 visas available for this category every year.
Unfortunately, U.S. Citizen grandparents, aunts, uncles, in-laws, and cousins cannot sponsor a relative for immigration.
During the petition process, the U.S. Citizen is called a petitioner, and the foreign family member is called a beneficiary.
Applying While the Foreign Beneficiary is Inside the U.S.
If the beneficiary is physically located in the U.S. legally and falls within one of the preference categories above, the beneficiary may be able to become a permanent resident following these two steps:
- The U.S. Citizen (petitioner) must file a Petition for Alien Relative for the foreign beneficiary and it must be approved. The beneficiary will be assigned a priority date, which will be the date that the Petition for Alien Relative is properly filed.
- Once the Petition for Alien Relative is approved, and the priority date in the beneficiary’s visa preference category is current, an Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status can then be filed by the beneficiary. Adjustment of Status is the process that the beneficiary will go through to become a permanent resident.
The beneficiary will then receive a notice of Application Support Center Appointment, where he or she will have to go to a designated USCIS center for finger printing and photographing.
If an application for work permit and an application for traveling documents (or advanced parole) has been requested along with the application to register permanent residence, the beneficiary should receive these temporary permits within 90 days.
After all of the above steps are completed, the beneficiary will then receive a notice of in person interview. Both the petitioner and the beneficiary will have to attend the interview. All original documentation submitted with the initial applications including passports, official travel documents, and Form I-94 (regardless of expiration date) must be brought to the interview.
Applying While the Foreign Beneficiary is Outside the U.S.
The only way for a foreign beneficiary to obtain permanent residence of the U.S. is through consular processing. The Department of State will issue a visa (when it becomes available) to a pre-approved beneficiary. Beneficiaries are pre-approved when the petitioner’s Petition for Alien Relative is approved by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services. The beneficiary will then travel to the United States with the visa, and will officially become a permanent resident when admitted through any port of entry.
Contact Kristy Qiu, a knowledgeable US Immigration Attorney to find out the approximate wait time and availability of visa for each preference category.
Please contact Kristy Qiu, a knowledgeable Fort Lauderdale Immigration Attorney, to schedule your immigration consultation today.