Family-Based Preference Categories
Family unity is very important for many families and individuals residing in the United States. It is very difficult being separated from your loved one who is residing abroad. Often, you must determine if your family member falls within a ‘Family Based Preference Category,” to see if you can sponsor your family member to come to the United States.
Family-based preference categories apply to family immigrants, other than immediate relatives.
There are four preference categories:
- First preference category: unmarried sons or daughters of U.S. citizens.
- Second preference category: relatives of permanent residents of the United States. There are two sub groups that have different waiting lists for available visas. The first sub group are spouses and minor children of permanent residents. The second subgroup are unmarried sons and daughters of lawful permanent residents but not their children.
- Third preference category: A married son or daughter of a U.S. Citizen.
- Fourth Preference category: U.S. Citizens over the age of 21 to petition for siblings for permanent residence
It is important to note that there are annual visa limits for the preference categories. This has resulted is several visa backlogs in some preferences. The availability of visas are issued in the order of the beneficiaries “priority date.” The priority date is when the petition for the green card was filed. You can see the most recent visa bulletin here:
Immigration based on Marriage
It is very common for a United States Citizen or lawful permanent resident to file a petition for a spouse. It is important to demonstrate that you and your spouse have a legal marriage and also a “bonafide marriage.” What that means is that your marriage was not entered into for the purpose of evading immigration laws. United States Citizenship and Immigration Services reviews your petition and makes a determination whether your marriage is considered fraudulent If found fraudulent, your petition can be denied. Therefore, it is important to file a proper petition to ensure that you have met all the requirements necessary to petition your spouse.
K-1 Fiancé Visas
A K-1 Visa is available for fiancés of US citizen petitioners. This visa allows a fiancé of a U.S. citizen petitioner to enter the United States for 90 days in order to marry the US Citizen and apply for permanent resident status. A K-2 Visa is available for dependents of a K-1 visa holder and the dependents may enter the United States with the K-1 visa holder if they are under the age of 18.
K-3, IR-1, and CR-1 Spouse Visas
Spouses of U.S. citizens and the spouse's children can also come to the United States on nonimmigrant visas (IR-1 and CR-1 Spouse Visas, formerly called K-3 Visas). This is visa is filed in order for the spouse and/or spouse’s children to complete the immigration process in the United States.