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Family-based Immigration

If you are a U.S. citizen or a lawful permanent resident of the U.S., you can sponsor certain types of relatives for green cards. These visas give permanent residency and will allow your loved ones to live and work in the U.S


Who is eligible for a family-based petition?


Only certain types of family members can be sponsored for green cards. 

If you are a legal permanent resident, you can only sponsor your spouse, and unmarried children under the age of 21. However, U.S citizens can sponsor their spouses, siblings, parents, and children regardless of age or marital status.


Family members that can be sponsored for green cards are divided into two main categories:


  • “Immediate relatives” include spouses, parents and unmarried children (under the age of 21) of U.S citizen. Immediate relatives have priority in family-based petitions, therefore there is no annual limit on the visa that can be issued. This means that the visa can be immediately issued to the immediate relative without a waiting period.


  • All other relatives, including spouses and children of lawful permanent residents, are considered “family preference relatives.” When it comes to other relatives, the situation is more complicated because there are only a certain number of visas available every year based on the family preference. The waiting period for a visa to become available can be very lengthy.  In fact, the law places numerous restrictions on this type of visa. It is highly recommended that you work with someone who understands the process from beginning to end and can advise you on the best course of actions.



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Green card through family

Establishing Permanent Residency through family

 A green card is an important document that identifies you as a permanent resident of the U.S who is not a U.S citizen yet. Holding a Green Card will allow you to live and work in the U.S as a lawful permanent resident. Obtaining a Green Card is the first step in becoming a naturalized citizen of the U.S. 


There are many ways to obtain a green card in the U.S.  One method is through family.

  • Family-based green card –  If you are related to a U.S citizen as a fiancée, immediate relative or other relationship.

Immediate relatives are: 

  • Spouse of a U.S. citizen

  • Unmarried child under the age of 21 of a U.S. citizen

  • Parent of a U.S. citizen who is at least 21 years old


Family Preference Categories

Family Preference Categories are visa categories for non-immediate relatives that account for family members of U.S. citizens or those of permanent residents. Importantly, these categories differ from immediate relatives because each has a quota attached to it that limits the number of visas that can be issued every year.


There are four Family Preference Categories as follows:

  • First Preference: U.S. citizen’s sons or daughters older than 21 and their minor children. 

  • Second Preference: Lawful permanent resident’s spouse, minor children, unmarried sons and daughters older than 21.

  • Third Preference: U.S. citizen’s adult sons and daughters, their spouse, and their minor children.

  • Fourth Preference: U.S. citizen’s siblings as well as their sibling’s spouses and minor children, as long as the citizen is 21 or older. 

Applying for a family-based green card may be complicated, however, working with an experienced immigration attorney can make things easier and remove the stress that comes from dealing with USCIS.

If you need assistance from an experienced attorney with all your immigration-related cases, please contact De Maio Law at (786) 200-7411 or send an email to to schedule a consultation. 

Happy Family in Nature
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