Family-based immigrants are divided into five categories: nonquota immigrants and immigrants broken into four categories according to preference status associated with a certain annual quota on immigrant visas. Family-based nonquota immigrants are immediate relatives of a United States citizen. An “immediate relative” is defined as the spouse, a child (unmarried and under 21 years of age), or a parent of a United States citizen (in the case of a parent, the citizen must be over 21 years of age), or the spouse or a child (unmarried and under 21 years of age) of the spouse of a deceased United States citizen under certain conditions.
- Family-based first preference status is accorded to unmarried children (over 21 years of age) of a United States citizen. Adopted children have to meet the statutory definition of an “adopted child.”
- Family-based second preference status is accorded to the spouse and unmarried children of an LPR.
- Family-based third preference status is assigned to married children of a United States citizen.
- Family-based fourth preference status is accorded to siblings of an adult citizen of the United States (over 21 years of age). Siblings are required to be the children of a common parent. Step-siblings and adopted siblings may be also included into this category under certain conditions.
A family-based alien is entitled to receive an immigrant visa if he/she is the beneficiary of an approved immigration petition submitted by the alien or the family sponsor with the USCIS.