Green Card Sponsorship, Visa Numbers & Preferences

Immediate relative petition

An immediate relative petition is for U.S. citizens who are interested in sponsoring one of their immediate relatives to come and live in the U.S. Immediate relatives include:

• Spouses;
• Parents; or
• Children who are under 21 years of age and unmarried.

When you file an immediate relative petition your relative will not have to wait for a visa number. If he or she is outside the U.S. they will be given a visa number immediately. If your relative is already inside the U.S. he or she will be allowed to apply to adjust his or her temporary status to “permanent resident” as soon as the petition is approved.

Preference petition

A preference petition can be filed by:

• A U.S. citizen on behalf of an unmarried adult child (21 years of age or older);
• A legal permanent resident for a spouse, unmarried child (under 21 years old), or unmarried adult child (21 years old or older); or
• An employer on behalf of an employee.

Unlike an immediate relative petition, the person for which the petition is being made must wait until a visa number is available. As there are a limited number of people who are entitled to enter the U.S. each year through the preference petition program, the application may take some time to process. Processing times will vary according to the applicant’s preference category.

Preference is given in the following order:

• First Preference: Unmarried, adult (over 21 years old) children of U.S. citizens;
• Second Preference: Spouses of lawful permanent residents and unmarried children (regardless of age) of lawful permanent residents and their children;
• Third Preference: Married sons and daughters of U.S. citizens, their spouses and their minor children;
• Fourth Preference: Brothers and sisters of adult U.S. citizens, their spouses and their minor children.

Preferences based on employment are issued in the following order:

• First Preference: Priority Workers including aliens with extraordinary abilities, outstanding professors and researchers, and certain multinational executives and managers;
• Second Preference: Members of Professions Holding Advanced Degrees or Persons of Exceptional Ability;
• Third Preference: Skilled Workers, professionals and other qualified workers;
• Fourth: Certain special immigrants including those in religious vocations;
• Fifth: Employment Creation Immigrants.


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USA Immigration Support

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