Family Based Permanent Residence

The Basics


There are two basic categories of family sponsored immigrants:

1. Immediate Relatives, and
2. Preference Immigrants

IMMEDIATE RELATIVES

According to the Immigration and Naturalization Act, Section 201(b)(2)(A)(i), immediate relatives include:

A. Spouses of United States citizens
B. Minor (under 21) children of United States citizens
C. Parents of United States citizens, provided the citizen petitioner is at least 21 years old
D. Certain spouses of deceased United States citizens

FAMILY-SPONSORED PREFERENCES

According to the Immigration and Naturalization Act, Section 203(a), the preference categories are:

First: Unmarried Sons and Daughters of United States Citizens
Second: Spouses and Children, and Unmarried Sons and Daughters of U.S. Legal Permanent Residents
Third: Married Sons and Daughters of Citizens
Fourth: Brothers and Sisters of Adult Citizens

Allotment of Visas

Section 201 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) sets an annual minimum family-sponsored preference limit of 226,000.
Section 202 prescribes that the per-country limit for preference immigrants is set at 7% of the total annual family-sponsored and employment-based preference limits, i.e., 25,620. The dependent area limit is set at 2%, or 7,320.

Section 203 of the INA prescribes preference classes for allotment of immigrant visas as follows:

First: Unmarried Sons and Daughters of Citizens: 23,400 plus any numbers not required for fourth preference.

Second: Spouses and Children, and Unmarried Sons and Daughters of Permanent Residents: 114,200, plus the number (if any) by which the worldwide family preference level exceeds 226,000, and any unused first preference numbers:

A. Spouses and Children: 77% of the overall second preference limitation, of which 75% are exempt from the per-country limit;

B. Unmarried Sons and Daughters (21 years of age or older): 23% of the overall second preference limitation.

Third: Married Sons and Daughters of Citizens: 23,400, plus any numbers not required by first and second preferences.

Fourth: Brothers and Sisters of Adult Citizens: 65,000, plus any numbers not required by first three preferences.