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Petitioning for immediate versus non-immediate family immigration

Immigration Services

Sometimes a person in Kentucky has loved ones living in another nation. For a variety of reasons, their loved ones living abroad may wish to reside in the U.S. through a visa, and ultimately obtain status as a permanent resident. Family immigration is important to many, but the relationship between the U.S. citizen petitioning for a visa and the person seeking to live in the U.S. is important.

U.S. citizens often petition for relatives who live abroad to obtain a visa that will allow them to reside in the United States. There are an unlimited number of visas available for immediate relatives of U.S. citizen-petitioners. Immediate relatives include spouses of U.S. citizens, unmarried children under age 21 of U.S. citizens, and parents of U.S. citizens if the citizen-petitioner is age 21 or above. There is no "line" for an immediate relative to wait in to get a Green Card. A citizen-petitioner can file the forms for an immediate relative visa at the same time they file the form to apply for a Green Card.

Visas for non-immediate relatives are limited, and preference categories apply. A visa will be available to a preference category on the basis of when the petition was filed (known as the priority date). The first preference category is for unmarried adult children ages 21 and up of U.S. citizens. The second preference (2A) category is for spouses of Green Card holders and unmarried children under age 21 of permanent U.S. residents. The second preference (2B) category is for unmarried adult children of permanent U.S. residents. The third preference category is for married children (no matter how old) of U.S. citizens. Finally, the fourth preference category is for siblings of adult U.S. citizens.

As this shows, the relationship between the person seeking residency in the U.S. and the U.S. citizen petitioning for them is important. It determines how quickly a visa may be made available to them, and how long they must wait to obtain a U.S. permanent residency. It is important that those in the U.S. seeking to petition a family member for a visa understands the process that must be followed, in order to be reunited with their loved one.

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