Although most Americans have come across the phrase “waiting in line,” as it pertains to immigrant visas for family members of U.S. citizens or U.S. legal permanent residents (green card holders), they do not have a clear understanding of what that process entails.
Applicants who are applying for immigration status based on family ties fall into two categories: 1) Immediate Relatives, and 2) Family-Based Immigrants.
The immediate relative category consists of 1) spouses, 2) parents, and 3) children (under the age of 21 and unmarried) of United States Citizens. There is no annual numerical limit for individuals in this category. Thus, once their petition is approved, they have a visa immediately available to them. This means that while immediate relatives are subject to standard processing timelines for the adjudication of their petition and visa approval, once their petition is approved, they may immediately begin to complete their immigration visa process to attend their interview and obtain their visa.
Applicants who are applying for status as family-based immigrants include the following types of family relationships:
- Unmarried sons and daughters (21 or older) of United States Citizens
- Spouses, children (under the age of 21 and unmarried), and unmarried sons and daughters (21 or older) of lawful permanent residents
- Married sons and daughters of United States Citizens
- Brothers and sisters of United States Citizens
Unlike immediate relatives, individuals applying as family-based immigrants are subject to an annual numeric limit. That is because U.S. law limits the number of visas available to family based immigrants. This means that even if their petition is approved, they may have to “wait in line” until a visa number becomes available, before they can complete their immigration visa process and obtain lawful permanent resident status.
If you have any questions about eligibility for an immediate relative or family-based immigration visa, or any other immigration matter, contact our attorneys at the Law Offices of Azita M. Mojarad, P.C. Our experienced immigration attorneys can advise you on what actions to take to ensure proper submission and processing of your immigration petition and applications.