- Spouse or minor child of a US Citizen
- an unmarried son or daughter of a US Citizen
- Spouse and minor child of a permanent resident
- an unmarried adult son or daughter of a permanent resident
- a married son or daughter of a US Citizen
- a Brother or sister of a US Citizen and are 21 years of age or older
The path to obtain your permanent residence through any of the family relationships listed above is handled in a different way and has a different time frame. Also, depending on where you are located will determine your path to residence. Living in the United States versus outside the United States will change the time it will take to get your residency status and the procedures required in order to get your residency. Currently, the fastest and smoothest path to your residency is either through a United States Citizen spouse or child.
The class of your preference will be determined, depending on your relationship to the person sponsoring you. Spouses of United States Citizens or parents of United States Citizens have immediate access to permanent resident status, therefore, do not fall under any preference. The following lists the preferences:
The first preference is for unmarried sons and daughters of U.S. citizens regardless of age. There is a waiting line of several years for first preference immigrants.
The second preference includes two sub-categories: one for spouses and minor children of permanent residents; and the other for unmarried adult sons and daughters of permanent residents. The first sub-category presently has a waiting line in excess of five years. There are no benefits granted to applicants waiting for a visa to become available. Because of the very limited number of visas allocated, and the large number of applicants, adult unmarried sons and daughters of permanent residents have to wait even longer to obtain permanent resident status. Caution should be exercised before filing a second preference petition for unmarried adult sons and daughters. They will generally not be able to legally immigrate for at least seven years, and if out of status during this period, new laws could bar their entry to the U.S.
The third preference category is for married sons and daughters of U.S. citizens. This category has a waiting line in excess of three years, and may get even longer.
The fourth preference is for brothers and sisters of U.S. citizens who are 21 years of age or over. This category is backlogged over 10 years and is moving slowly. It is possible that it could take anywhere from 15 to 20 years to immigrate through a citizen sibling.