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Green Card through Family Members - Frequently Asked Questions

8.

What is meant by ‘preference category’ for a family based Green Card?

Foreign nationals who want to become U.S. immigrants are classified into categories based on a preference system. If you are the parent, spouse or unmarried child under the age of 21 of a U.S. citizen, you do not have to wait for an immigrant visa number to become available once the visa petition filed for you is approved by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). An immigrant visa number will be immediately available for you. The relatives in the remaining categories must wait for an immigrant visa number to become available according to certain preferences.

9.

What are the ‘preference categories’ for a family based Green Card?

You must wait for an immigrant visa number to become available according to the following preferences:

First Preference: Unmarried, adult sons and daughters of U.S. citizens. Adult means 21 years of age or older

Second Preference: Spouse of lawful permanent residents, their unmarried children (under 21), and unmarried sons and daughters of lawful permanent residents

Third Preference: Married sons and daughters of U.S. citizens

Fourth Preference: Brothers and sisters of adult U.S. citizens

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10.

How do I bring my spouse to live in the U.S. on a family based Green Card?

There is a three-step process for your foreign national spouse to become a legal immigrant:

  • United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) must approve an immigrant visa petition that you file for your spouse
  • The State Department visa bulletin must show that a spouse immigrant visa is available to your spouse, based on the date you filed the immigrant visa application
  • If your spouse is:
  • Outside the U.S. when your visa petition is approved and when an immigrant visa number (if required) becomes available, your spouse will be notified to go to the local U.S. consulate to complete the processing for an immigrant visa
  • Legally inside the U.S. when your visa petition is approved and when an immigrant visa number (if required) becomes available, your spouse may use the Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status, to Adjust Status to that of a lawful permanent resident
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