Skip to Content

Understanding Family Preference Categories

Family walking through the woods.

United States citizens and lawful permanent residents (LPRs) may sponsor certain relatives for family-based visas. Depending on the sponsor’s relationship to the sponsee, they may receive priority access for a family-based visa.

Learn about family preference categories to stay informed on the family-based immigration process.

Family-Based Immigration

United States immigration law allows U.S. citizens and LPRs to sponsor relatives who live abroad for family-based visas. This is many immigrants’ first step to lawful permanent residency and, ultimately, full U.S. citizenship.

The law separates family-based visas into two categories: Immediate Relative visas and Family Preference visas. Immediate Relative visas are unlimited and there is no limit to the number of immigrants who can enter the country on these visas per year. The Family Preference visas, on the other hand, are capped at a certain number per year.

Those who may be eligible for the Immediate Relative visa include the following:

  • The spouse of a U.S. citizen

  • The parent of an adult U.S. citizen

  • The unmarried children of a U.S. citizen

  • An orphan who was adopted abroad by a U.S. citizen

  • An orphan whose adoption by a U.S. citizen is pending

Those who may be eligible for a Family Preference visa include the following:

  • Family First Preference (F1): Unmarried sons and daughters of U.S. citizens, and their minor children if applicable

  • Family Second Preference (F2): Spouses, minor children, and adult unmarried sons and daughters of lawful permanent residents

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

  • Family Fourth Preference (F4): Brothers and sisters of adult U.S. citizens, and their spouses and minor children

The aforementioned categories determine the priority that sponsees receive. Those in the Family First Preference category, for example, will likely receive a visa before those in the Family Second, Third, or Fourth Preference categories.

If you would like to sponsor a relative who lives abroad for a family-based visa, our Dallas immigration attorneys are here to help. At Akula & Associates, we can assist you with a wide variety of immigration needs and we will ensure everything is filed properly.

Contact us today at (844) 299-5003 to learn how we can help you.

Share To: