Powell Immigration Law PC | Business, Employment and Family Immigration Law | California

Green Cards for Immediate Relatives of U.S. Citizens or LPRs

A basic overview of the visa is provided here. If you have further inquiries as to the application process or whether or not this is the correct route for your needs, please don't hesitate to contact us.


Immediate Relative Immigrant visas

If a person is an immediate relative of a United States citizen, one can become a lawful permanent resident through obtaining a Green Card, provided that certain eligibility requirements are met. There is no limit on the issuance of such visas for any given year. An individual qualifies within this immediate relative category if he or she is:

  • The spouse of a U.S. citizen.
  • An unmarried child under twenty-one years of age of a U.S. citizen.
  • A parent of a U.S. citizen if that citizen is twenty-one years of age or older.

Family Preference Immigrant Visas

For non-immediate family members of U.S. citizens and certain relatives of lawful permanent residents, there are a limited number of visas awarded every year divided into four different preference categories. These include, along with their numerical limits, the following:

  • Family First Preference (F1): Unmarried adult offspring (over twenty-one years old) of U.S. citizens and their minor children. 
    • 23,400 visas available.
  • F2: Spouses, minor children and unmarried adult offspring of LPRs. 
    • 114,200 visas are available with at least seventy-seven percent allocated to spouses and children, the remainder going to the unmarried sons and daughters. 
  • F3: Married offspring of U.S. citizens as well as their spouses and minor children.
    • 23,400 visas available.
  • F4: Siblings of U.S. adult citizens as well as the siblings' spouses and minor children.
    • 65,000 visas available.

Whenever the number of qualified applicants for any given category exceeds the number of available immigrant visas, those outside of the limit are placed on a wait-list . Available immigrant visas are issued in the chronological order in which the petitions were filed by use of their priority date, which in turn becomes the applicant's priority date. Immigrant visas cannot be issued until an applicant's priority date is reached, often resulting in a waiting period of several years or more.


For nonimmigrants currently in the U.S.the following requirements must be met:

  • A Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status must be properly filed.
  • The immediate relative was inspected and admitted or inspected and paroled into the U.S.
  • The individual is physically present in the United States at the time of filing the Form I-485.
  • Eligibility to receive an immigrant visa.
  • The relationship to the family member filing the Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative on the individual's behalf currently exists.
  • No applicable bars to adjustment apply to the immediate relative.
  • Admissibility to the U.S. for lawful permanent residence (LPR) or eligibility for a waiver of inadmissibility or other form of relief.
  • The individual merits the favorable exercise of discretion by USCIS.

If the immediate family member is currently outside the U.S., an eligible U.S. citizen or LPR relative must file a Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative on his or her behalf. Although one usually files immigrant petitions with USCIS, sometimes a Form I-130 petition may be filed for a the qualified relative at a U.S. embassy or consulate abroad. Occurrences this may apply to include:

  • When the U.S. citizen has been authorized to reside within the jurisdiction of the consular office for at least the last six months.
  • Members of the military.
  • Emergency situations.
  • Situations involving the health or safety of the petitioner.
  • When in the national interest of the U.S.


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