When you enjoy the benefits of United States citizenship or lawful permanent residency, it is only natural that you should want to extend those advantages to your loved ones. U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents both have the ability to sponsor certain types of family members for green cards.
However, the United States immigration system can be extremely overwhelming and difficult to navigate.
Reuniting your family in the U.S. can be a complex, time-consuming, and arduous process. Our Orlando family visa lawyers at Angel Law Firm, PL can work to get your loved ones the visas they need as efficiently as possible.
We have an extensive knowledge of how to effectively navigate the U.S. immigration system and will do everything possible to help you and your family achieve your American dream.
The Difference Between Immediate Relatives and Family Preference Relatives
United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) organizes family visas into 2 categories. Whether your loved one is considered an “immediate relative” or a “family preference relative” will depend on your status and impact the timeline of obtaining their visa.
Immediate Relatives Meaning
According to immigration law an immediate relative includes the following family members:
- A spouse of a U.S. citizen
- A parent of a U.S. citizen who is over the age of 21
- An unmarried child of a U.S. citizen who is under the age of 21
- Adopted children
There are no limits on the amount of immediate relative visas issued. This means you will experience no additional waiting period after your visa petition has been processed and cleared by USCIS.
Access to immediate relative sponsorships is a major advantage to permanent U.S. citizenship, as loved ones sponsored as immediate relatives will consequently almost always receive their visas faster than those of family preference relatives.
Family Preference Meaning
Family preference visas are open to both U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents. However, only a limited amount of family preference visas is issued each year, meaning your loved one will likely need to endure an additional waiting period until a visa slot becomes available.
The waiting period can last multiple years if the backlog is especially large. Note that lawful permanent residents can only sponsor their spouses, unmarried children under the age of 21, and adopted children.
If they wish to sponsor their parents, siblings, or adult children, they will need to wait until they are U.S. citizens. Additionally, there are limitations on what types of family members can be sponsored, even if you are a U.S. citizen. Aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents, and grandchildren cannot be directly sponsored by a citizen or lawful permanent resident.
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