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Home » Family Law Immigration » Family Petitions-Marriage to U.S. Citizen and Permanent Residents.

Family Petitions-Marriage to U.S. Citizen and Permanent Residents.

In general, in order to be eligible to apply for an immigrant visa, a foreign citizen must be sponsored by a U.S. citizen relative(s) or by a prospective employer. Unlike most other immigrant categories, Immediate Relatives are not subject to numerical limits under immigration law.

Thus, if you are a U.S. citizen, our Attorneys can process a Petition for your wife, children or parents without being subject to any quota or additional time constraints.

The Immigration and Nationality Act allows for the immigration of foreigners to the United States based on relationship to a U.S. citizen or legal permanent resident. Family-based immigration falls under two basic categories: unlimited and limited.


Immediate Relatives of U.S. Citizens (IR): The spouse, widow(er) and unmarried children under 21 of a U.S. citizen, and the parent of a U.S. citizen who is 21 or older.

Returning Residents (SB): Immigrants who lived in the United States previously as lawful permanent residents and are returning to live in the U.S. after a temporary visit of more than one year abroad.


Family First Preference (F1): Unmarried sons and daughters of U.S. citizens, and their children, if any. (23,400)

Family Second Preference (F2): Spouses, minor children, and unmarried sons and daughters (over age 20) of lawful permanent residents. (114,200) At least seventy-seven percent of all visas available for this category will go to the spouses and children; the remainder will be allocated to unmarried sons and daughters.

Family Third Preference (F3): Married sons and daughters of U.S. citizens, and their spouses and children. (23,400)

Family Fourth Preference (F4): Brothers and sisters of United States citizens, and their spouses and children, provided the U.S. citizens are at least 21 years of age. (65,000)

The Petition

Relatives of intending immigrants who plan to base their immigrant visa applications on family relationship must obtain an Immigrant Petition for Relative, from the Citizenship and Immigration Services in the Department of Homeland Security (C.I.S.). The C.I.S. will also forward the approved petition to the National Visa Center, which will contact the intending immigrant with further information on processing at the U.S. Embassy in their home country.

However, an immediate relative petition may also be filed in the U.S. with the Adjustment of Status if the relative is in the U.S. and qualifies under additional restrictions.