You may be eligible for a family-based permanent or temporary visa to the United States if you can prove you are related to a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident. Someone who is not a child’s parent but is a grandparent, step parent, aunt, uncle, sister, or brother is considered a relative. Half-brothers and sisters with only one parent are included. People related to a child through marriage or civil partnership are also included.

 You are considered an immediate relative under these circumstances:

  • You are the spouse of a U.S. national
  • Or you are the unmarried child of a U.S. citizen under the age of 21
  • Or you are the parent of a U.S. national (if the U.S. citizen has reached the age of 21 years or older)

Immediate Family can refer to a fiancé/fiancée, a spouse (husband/wife), a child (son/daughter), or a sibling (brother/sister). If you indicate that you have immediate relatives in the U.S., you will be asked for the relative’s name, relationship to you, and status in the U.S.

There are two types of family-based immigrants: “Immediate relatives” and “family preference system” relatives. The main difference between these two is that immediate relatives do not have to wait for visas.

There are two types of immigrant visas for family members:

Immediate relatives

These visas are granted to people with close family relationships with U.S. citizens, such as spouses, parents, or children. 

Grandparents, grandchildren, great-grandparents, great-grandchildren, cousins, uncles, aunts, nieces, nephews, parents-in-law, siblings-in-law, step-children, adopted children, half-siblings, and civil and cohabiting partners are examples of non-immediate family members.

Family preference

These visas are intended for specific, more distant family relationships with a U.S. citizen and some specific relationships with a Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR). Each fiscal year, the number of immigrants in these categories is limited.

Remember that U.S. nationals can file an immigrant visa petition on behalf of their:

  • Your son or daughter
  • Husband or wife 
  • Parent 
  • Brother or sister

Only lawful permanent residents of the United States may file an immigrant visa petition for their:

  • Spouse 
  • Son or daughter who is not married

Who is considered an immediate relative in the U.S.?

  • The spouse of a U.S. national
  • The unmarried child of a U.S. national under the age of 21; or 
  • The parent of a U.S. national (if the U.S. national is 21 or older)
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