Family-Based Preference Categories

If you want to bring your family to the United States from another country, but they do not fall under the immediate relative category, there are other options available to you.

In order to start this process, Form I-130 (Petition for Alien Relative) will have to be filed for your relative. The date that your application is received by USCIS is your priority date and visa availability within a preference category is based on that.

The family-based preference categories are incredibly important and understanding them will provide you with a rough estimate as to when your visa will be available for entry into the United States. A knowledgeable family immigration attorney can help you make sure you understand the categories.

Family One (F1) Preference

This preference category is limited to adult sons and daughters of United States citizens who are both unmarried and 21 years old or older. Minor children are included as derivatives in this category. Because the adult sons and daughters are over the age of 21, they do not qualify under the immediate relative category.

Currently, only 23,400 visas are issued for this preference category. The typical wait time for relatives within this category is eight years. For citizens of the Philippines and Mexico, the wait time is more than 15 years.

Family Two (F2) Preference

If you are a lawful permanent resident (LPR), this is the category that your spouse and children would fall into when immigrating to the United States. Your spouse, minor children, and your unmarried sons and daughters that are 21 or older would fall under the F2 Preference. This category is further divided into two subcategories:

  • Family 2A is limited to your spouse and unmarried children. The typical wait time for entry into the country is two years.
  • The Family 2B subcategory is for your unmarried sons and daughters who are 21 years or older. The average wait time is seven years. Citizens of the Philippines will have to wait 11 years, and Mexican nationals will have a wait time of 20 years.

Of the 114,200 visas available within this category, most (77 percent) will be allocated to relatives that fall within the Family 2A category. The remainder will be given to those in the Family 2B category.

Family Three (F3) Preference

Using this preference category enables a U.S. citizen to sponsor their sons and daughters that are married. In addition, their spouses and minor children can also be included in this sponsorship.

About 23,4000 visas are allocated for this category each year. Wait times within the F3 Preference can be extensive, with family members waiting 11 years. Citizens of the Philippines and Mexico can expect to experience wait intervals of more than 20 years.

Family Four (F4) Preference

If U.S. citizens are at least 21 years of age, they can sponsor their brothers and sisters as well as their spouses and minor children. For this category, there is an allotment of 65,000 visas. The wait time on average for this category is 13 years, but Philippines citizens may have to wait 24 years and Mexican citizens will have to wait 18 years.

The following people cannot sponsor a relative for a visa:

  • Cousins
  • In-laws
  • Grandparents
  • Aunts
  • Uncles

Ask an Attorney About Family-Based Preference Categories

We can help you with the immigration process and bring your family to the United States of America. Pobjecky & Pobjecky is well versed in immigration law and has helped citizens and permanent residents bring their family members to the U.S. Call today to discuss family-based preference categories with us.

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