Family-Based Green Cards


Foreign nationals may be eligible to obtain a green card through a relative or spouse who is a U.S. citizen or legal permanent resident. There are two categories of family-based green card candidates: those subject to the green card numerical limitation and those who are not subject to the numerical limitation.

Candidates Who are Note subject to the Numerical Limitation

Foreign nationals who fall within one of the following categories are not subject to the annual green card numerical limitation and thus do not have to undergo a waiting period to obtain their green card:

1. Spouses of U.S. citizens;
2. Minor children (under 21 years of age) of U.S. citizens;
3. Parents of U.S. citizen (if citizen is over 21 years of age);
4. Spouses of deceased U.S. citizens.

Preference Immigrants – Family-Based Green Card Candidates who are Subject to the Numerical Limitation

The following categories of immigrants are subject to the annual numerical limitation on the number of green cards that are awarded to foreign nationals. These individuals may obtain Green Cards but must first get a “priority date” and then wait their turn before their application is processed. The waiting period differs depending on your preference category and country of origin.

1st Preference: Unmarried sons and daughters of U.S. citizens (age 21 or over).

2nd Preference: Spouses and minor children of lawful permanent residents; unmarried sons and daughters (21 or older) of permanent residents.

3rd Preference: Married sons and daughters of U.S. citizens.

4th Preference: Brothers and sisters of U.S. citizens.