Family-Based Eligibility Categories

The family-based eligibility categories break down as follows:

  1. First Preference: Unmarried sons or daughters of American citizens
  2. Second Preference: Spouses and children, unmarried sons or daughters, 21 years of age or older, of lawful permanent residents
  3. Third Preference: Married sons or daughters of U.S. citizens
  4. Fourth Preference: Brothers and sisters of adult U.S. citizens

A U.S. citizen can file the petition on behalf of his/her:

  1. Husband, wife, or child under the age of 21;
  2. Unmarried child over the age of 21;
  3. Married child of any age;
  4. Brother or sister if the U.S. citizen is at least 21 years old;
  5. Parent if the U.S. citizen is at least 21 years

A lawful permanent resident can file the petition on behalf of his/her:

  1. Husband or wife;
  2. Unmarried child

Immigrant petitions for foreign national relatives cannot be filed on behalf of the following persons:

  1. An adoptive parent or adoptive child if the adoption took place after the child reached the age of 16, or if the child has not been in the legal and physical custody of the parents for a period a of at least two years;
  2. A natural parent if the U.S. citizen gained permanent residence through adoption;
  3. A stepchild or stepparent if the marriage that created the relationship took place after the child was 18 years of age;
  4. A husband or wife if both were not physically present at the marriage ceremony, and the marriage was not consummated;
  5. A husband or wife if the person filing the petition gained permanent resident status by virtue of a prior marriage to a U.S. citizen or permanent resident unless a period of five years has elapsed since the petitioner became a permanent resident, or the prior marriage was terminated by the death of the spouse, or he/she can establish by clear and convincing evidence that the prior marriage was not entered into to evade any provision of the immigration law.