“Immediate Relatives” of a U.S. Citizen:
“Immediate Relatives” refers to the parents, spouses and children (who are unmarried and under 21 years of age) of a U.S. citizen. Immediate relatives of a U.S. citizen can immigrate to the United States without being subject to any  numerical restrictions, unlike other close family members of U.S. citizens and/or permanent residents. Namely, they can apply for the permanent resident status without having to deal with any waiting time:

  • For Spouses of U.S. Citizens
  • For Unmarried Children under 21 year of age of U.S. Citizens.
  • For Parents of U.S. Citizens

Other Close Family Members of a U.S. Citizen:

Other close family members of a U.S. citizen can qualify to immigrate to the United States, but unlike the immediate relatives of a U.S. citizen, they are subject to a numerical limit of immigrant visas available to them each year. Close family members are divided into several groups called “Preferences”. The higher the Preference, the quicker the alien will be eligible to receive a green card:

  • First preference (F1): Unmarried Children over 21 year of age of U.S. Citizens
  • Second preference (F2A & F2B1): Spouses and children, and unmarried sons and daughters of Permanent Residents.
  • Third preference (F3): Married Children of U.S. Citizens
  • Fourth preference (F4): Brothers or Sisters of U.S. Citizens.

Family Members of Permanent Residents:

Spouses and unmarried children of a permanent resident can also apply for a green card. They are categorized as the “Second Preference” group of people who are eligible for immigration to the United States.

  • Second preference (F2A & F2B1): Spouses and children, and unmarried sons and daughters of Permanent Residents.

Same-Sex Marriage & Immigration:

“After July, 2013 decision by the Supreme Court holding that the federal interpretation of ‘marriage’ and ‘spouse’ as legislated in Section 3 of ‘DOMA’ to that of strictly heterosexual unions was unconstitutional because it denied legally married same-sex couples their due process under the Fifth Amendment.

This landmark decision removed a decades old ban on the federal recognition of same-sex marriages, and effectively opened the door for married same-sex couples to be recognized by the federal government and thus to receive federal benefits that are also conferred to opposite-sex married couples; including the privilege for U.S. Citizens and Legal Permanent Residents to sponsor their foreign born spouses for immigration to the United States. Due to such changes, USCIS now accepts immigration visa petitions filed on behalf of a same-sex spouse in the same manner as those filed on behalf of an opposite-sex spouse.

The filing date of a petition is the applicant’s priority date. For the latest priority dates, check the U.S. Department of State  Visa Bulletin.

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