There are four preference categories for limited family-based immigration:
- First Preference — Unmarried sons and daughters (children who are 21 years
or older) of U.S. citizens.
- Second Preference — (A) Spouses and unmarried children (under the age of
21 years) of lawful permanent residents of the U.S.; and (B) unmarried sons
and daughters (21+ year old children) of U.S. lawful permanent residents.
- Third Preference — Married sons and daughters of U.S. citizens.
- Fourth Preference — Brothers and Sisters of U.S. citizens. The U.S. citizen or permanent resident relative will first submit an I-130 Immigrant Petition with the immigration’s Regional Service Center with jurisdiction over the petitioner’s residence. The petition packet must include proof of the petitioner’s status as a U.S. citizen or permanent resident, along with proof of the claimed relationship to the beneficiary.
Upon approval of this petition, the file will be sent to the U.S. Department of State’s National Visa Center, who will determine if an immigrant visa is currently available for the beneficiary based on the preference category and priority date assigned (date that the petition was received by the immigration service). When a number becomes available, the NVC will initiate the immigrant visa application process for the beneficiary through the appropriate U.S. Embassy or Consulate.
Certain immediate relatives who are already in the U.S. may apply for adjustment of their status to permanent residence concurrently with the filing of the immigrant petition.