Understanding Family Preference Categories for a Green Card

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A lot of individuals in the U.S. with family members who reside in other countries think about bringing their families with them. As per the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) rules, there are two main family-based immigrant groups, which are the immediate relative and family preference categories. 

An immigrant would fall into one of these immigrant categories when a permanent resident or U.S. citizen petitions a foreign or alien family member. These categories define the kind of relationship the U.S. sponsor has with the immigrant and the priority the immigrant would be given when trying to get a green card. 

Available Family Preference Categories

Individuals under the immediate relative categories are given for those with an exclusive relationship with the U.S. sponsor. But the categories for family preference include other qualifying family members of the U.S. sponsor and some specific family members of a permanent resident. These include: 

  • F1 category: This includes unmarried children (21 or older) of a U.S. citizen.
  • F2A category: This includes unmarried children (below 21) and a spouse of a permanent resident.
  • F2B category: This includes unmarried adult children of a permanent resident.
  • F3 category: This includes married children (any age) of a U.S. citizen.
  • F4 category: This includes siblings (any age) of an adult U.S. citizen. 

Those who don’t fit into one of these family preference categories might qualify under the immediate relative categories. Visas for immediate relatives are available for a U.S. citizen’s unmarried children, spouse, and parents. 

Requirements for Family Preference Green Card Categories

  • Foreign family members must be petitioned by a permanent resident or U.S. citizen.
  • The qualifying relationship, like a child or spouse, should be documented with proper evidence.
  • The U.S. sponsor must file the petition to initiate the process, but prospective immigrants should apply for a green card or permanent residence.
  • The U.S. sponsor should promise to provide financial support to the petitioned immigrant if the family member isn’t capable of supporting themselves financially. The petitioner should have evidence to back up their financial capacity. 
  • The petitioned family member should be admissible to the U.S. Even if a family member qualifies under a family preference category, they should show that they are not inadmissible to the country. Generally speaking, they should show proof that they do not, in any way, pose any danger to the U.S. society on security, health, criminal, or immigration violation grounds. Take note, however, that under certain circumstances, if a prospective family preference immigrant is found to be inadmissible, they might qualify to apply for a waiver. If granted, the USCIS may approve the family member’s green card application.

Talk to an Experienced Ohio Immigration Lawyer Now

Because of the limited number of visas available for family preference categories, ensuring that your application is accurate is immensely crucial. You can reach out to our Ohio immigration lawyer here at The VanNoy Firm so you can learn more about your specific case. Call us or fill out our online contact form to schedule your appointment. 



About The Author

Anthony S. VanNoy

Trial Attorney

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