Family Unification: Immediate Relative versus Family Preference
Making up a major component of the immigration system in the US, family unification allows for US citizens and permanent residents to petition for their family members to come live in the US. There are two different types of petitions for family-based immigration: Immediate Relative and Family Preference. While this article will provide a brief overview, the experienced and dedicated lawyers at Sethi & Mazaheri can provide tailored advice for each immigration case.
The crucial differences
Before starting a petition, it is important to know the difference between the two categories of family-based visas. These differences are crucial as they determine who can apply for the petition, but also which individuals can receive a visa. First, an Immediate Relative visa is available for a petition by a US citizen only. Those who are permanent residents cannot petition for a visa for their family member under this classification. The Immediate Relative classification is open to a citizen’s spouse, child (unmarried and under 21), parent (if the citizen is over 21), and any adopted children. Important to note: there is not a limit on the number of Immediate Relative visas granted and, as such, the visa does not have a waiting period.
Family Preference visa is open for a petition by both US citizens and permanent residents
The second classification for family-based immigration is Family Preference. This type of visa is open for a petition by both US citizens and permanent residents. However, the visa does have a lengthy waiting period and is granted according to a set of preferences. The preferences, from one to four, are adult children of citizens; a permanent resident’s spouse, children below the age of 18, and unmarried children over 21; married children of a citizen; siblings of a citizen. Some individuals can qualify under both the Immediate Relative classification as well as the Family Preference. In order to analyze and choose the best immigration option for the petition, discuss your case with an experienced immigration attorney.