Preference Relatives Visa

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What Is Preference Relatives Visa?

Permanent resident status, also known as the “Green Card,” allows foreign nationals to live and work in the United States without any time limitations. If you are a foreign national seeking permanent residency in the United States, you can apply for Permanent Resident Status via family ties. The Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) allows certain foreign nationals, including family members of lawful permanent residents and U.S. Citizens, to petition for permanent residency in the United States. The application for family-based immigration has the petitioner, who is a U.S. national or a lawful permanent U.S. and the beneficiary, the family member who is being sponsored.

Immediate Relative and Family Preference

Although there are numerous routes through which you can get a permanent residency in the U.S, such as through the 1990 Act’s Diversity Immigration Program, Employment and Investment,  the most popular way is through family ties. Applicants who wish to become immigrants are classified based on a preference system –

Immediate Relatives

Under section 203 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), U.S. citizens can act as green card sponsors for their immediate relatives. The INA defines an “immediate relative” as a U.S. citizen’s spouse, unmarried child who is less than 21 years old, or parent (if the U.S. citizen is more than 21 years old). Immediate relatives of U.S. citizens have immigration priority. This means that there are unlimited green cards available for them, so they don’t have to wait for a visa number to become available.Immediate relatives include spouses, unmarried children (below 21 years of age), and parents of U.S. residents.

Under this category, the applicant does not have to wait for an immigrant visa to become available after the USCIS approves their visa petition.

Family Preference

Visas issued under the family preference category are reserved for more distant, specific family relationships of U.S. nationals and some specified relationships with a Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR). The list includes:

  • F1:Unmarried grown-up daughters and sons (aging 21 years or above) of the U.S. national.
  • F2A:Spouses and unmarried juveniles (aging 21 years or above) of a rightful permanent resident.
  • F2B:Unmarried sons and daughters of rightful permanent residents aged 21 years or above.
  • F3: Married children of U.S. locals. (No age restrictions).
  • F4:Sisters and brothers of U.S. locals (only if the U.S. national ages 21 years or above).

We also recommended that you read the instructions mentioned in Form I-485 before proceeding with the application. Our immigration attorneys can also help you get clarity on the application process and ensure timely filing.

Immigrant Petition

The family-based immigration application commences when a U.S. national or permanent resident files a petition for their individual or family preference relative (Form I-130). The form is filled out to establish a qualifying relationship and request a visa number.

If you’re a U.S. Citizen, you can also aid a foreign national fiancé to visit the United States for marriage purposes by filing a Petition for a non-immigrant fiancé, Form l-129F. As a result, your fiancé will be allowed to visit the U.S. with a nonimmigrant K-1 visa and can then adjust status after entering the United States and obtain Permanent Resident Status.

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Other Type Of Green Card

Adjustment of Status

If you are already in the U.S., you can apply for permanent residency without having to return to your home country to complete processing, once your I-130 is approved or in some cases concurrently (if your visa number is current) with your I-130 application. This process is called adjustment of status. You must meet the following requirements to be a qualified candidate for permanent resident status under the family preference category:

  • You should have properly filed Form I-485.
  • You were inspected and admitted or inspected and paroled or into the U.S.
  • You were physically present in the U.S. while filing Form I-485.
  • You are eligible to receive an immigrant visa.
  • The relationship to the family member who filed Form I-130, Petition for Foreign Relative, for you still exists.
  • An immigrant visa was immediately available to you at the time of filing Form I-485, and at the time, USCIS made a final decision on your application.
  • Your relationship with the family member who filed Form I-130 for you still exists.
  • None of the applicable bars to adjustment of status apply to you.
  • You are admissible to the United States for lawful permanent residence or eligible for a waiver of inadmissibility or other forms of relief; and
  • You merit the favorable exercise of USCIS discretion (this means the positive factors in your case outweigh the negative factors).

However, depending on how you entered the United States or if you committed a specific act or violation of immigration law, you might be prevented from adjustment. Immigration attorneys at The Law Office Of Prashanti can help you in cases of adjustments and ensure that you fulfill all the requirements in your family-based green card application.

Consular Processing

If you are residing outside the U.S., you can apply for an immigrant visa at a U.S. Consulate abroad to enter the country and become a permanent resident. Application processed through this path is known as Consular processing.

Steps for Consular Processing

Consular processing is a multi-step process, and you must understand the formalities that you need to go through.
Here’s what you should expect:

➜ 1. Determine Your Basis to Immigrate

The first stage in consular processing is to see if you are eligible to apply for a Green Card (lawful permanent residence).

➜ 2. File the Immigrant Petition

You will need a qualified family member to file an immigrant petition for you.

➜ 3. Wait for a Decision on Your Petition

The petitioner is notified of the decision by USCIS. If USCIS denies the petition, the notice will state the grounds for the denial as well as whether you have the right to appeal the decision. If your petition is approved and you live outside of the U.S. (or if you live in the United States but want to apply for an immigrant visa in another country), USCIS will forward your petition to the Department of State’s National Visa Center. The petition will be kept there until you receive an immigrant visa number.

➜ 4. Wait for Notification from the National Visa Center

The National Visa Center (NVC) is responsible for collecting visa application fees and supporting documentation. The NVC will notify the petitioner and you (the beneficiary) when the visa petition is received and again when an immigrant visa number is about to become available. They will also notify you when you must submit immigrant visa processing fees and supporting documentation.

➜ 5. Go to Your Appointment

Once a visa is available or your priority date is current, the consular office will schedule you for an interview. The consular office will process your case and decide if you are eligible for an immigrant visa.

➜ 6. Notify the National Visa Center of Any Changes

You should, contact the NVC if:

  • You change your address,
  • You were under 21 but have now reached the age of 21, or
  • You change your marital status.

These changes may affect your eligibility or visa availability.

➜ 7. After Your Visa is Granted

If you are granted an immigrant visa, the consular officer will give you a packet of information. This packet is known as a “Visa Packet.” Do not open this packet. It should only be unsealed by a U.S. officer at an official port of entry. You will need to pay a USCIS Immigrant Fee. When you arrive in the United States, you should give your Visa Packet to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer at the port of entry. The CBP officer will inspect you and determine whether to admit you into the United States as a lawful permanent resident.

➜ 8. Receive Your Green Card

If you have paid the USCIS Immigrant Fee, you will receive your Green Card in the mail after you arrive in the United States. If you did not pay the USCIS Immigrant Fee before you arrived in the United States, you will need to pay the fee before USCIS will send you a Green Card.

The process of applying for an immigrant visa is complex, assistance from an immigration attorney like the Law Office Of Prashanthi Reddy, PLLC, can be crucial for the approval of your case. The Law Office of Prashanthi Reddy, PLLC, has been handling family-based immigration cases for years and has assisted many clients in applying and successfully availing their U.S. residency. We have 20+ years of experience in processing green card applications and can help you in the family-based green card application process. Reach out to the Law Offices of Prashanthi Reddy, PLLC, at or call us at 212-354-1010.


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