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Understanding Preference Categories

Family Immigration

Preference Categories Explained:

Except for immediate relatives of U.S. Citizens, relatives in the below referenced categories must wait for an immigrant visa number to become available in accordance to the following preferences:

1st Preference (F1):
  • Unmarried adult sons and daughters of U.S. citizens (21 years or older)
  • Quota 23,400 per yr plus any unused from F4
2nd Preference (F2):
  • Spouse (husband or wife) of legal permanent residents
  • Unmarried son and daughters (regardless of age) and their children of legal permanent residents
  • Quota 114,200 per yr plus any visas unused in F1
2nd Preference (F2A):
  • Spouses and unmarried minor children
  • 77% of the overall 2nd preference limitation
  • Of which, 75% is exempt from the pre-country limit
  • Granted conditional basis if marriage is 2 yrs old or less
  • If married to spouse before becoming an LPR, spouse may be eligible to receive following to join benefits. Which means the spouse will not have to submit a separate Form I-130, and spouse will not have to wait to immigrate to the U.S.
  • Adopted child, if the AC had lived with the adoptive parent (LPR) for 2 yrs he/she would be considered a child for immigration purposes, and will be allowed to get a green card at the same time the parents get a green card. Which means the child will not have to wait for a visa number to come available.
2nd Preference (F2B):
  • Unmarried sons and daughters (21 years or older)
  • 23% of overall 2nd preference limitation
  • As for married sons and daughters, there is no visa category for LPR. If an unmarried son or daughter get married before the LPR becomes a U.S. citizen, any petition filed for that son or daughter will be automatically revoked.
3rd Preference:
  • Married sons and daughters of U.S. citizens (of any age)
  • Their spouses, and
  • Their minor children (under the age of 21)
  • Quota, 23,400 per year plus any visas not used by F1 and F2 categories
4th Preference:
  • Brothers and sisters of adult U.S. citizens
  • Their spouses, and
  • Their minor children
  • Quota, 65,000 per year