Noncitizens who are family members of U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents living in California may be able to secure a Green Card based on their familial relationship to the citizen. Specifically, there are five family preference categories:
- F1 – First preference – U.S. citizens’ unmarried daughters or sons over the age of 21
- F2A – Second preference – U.S. lawful permanent residents’ spouses or children (under 21 and not married)
- F2B – Second preference – U.S. lawful permanent residents’ unmarried daughters or sons over the age of 21
- F3 – Third preference – U.S. citizens’ married daughters or sons
- F4 – Fourth preference – U.S. citizens’ sisters or brothers, provided the citizen is at least 21 years old
Adjustment of status
Individuals who wish to qualify for lawful permanent resident status, called “adjustment of status,” under one of the categories of relationship to a current U.S. citizen or permanent resident must meet a number of requirements. Some of the requirements are the proper filing of USCIS Form I-485, proper inspection and admission at the time of entry into the U.S., availability of an immigrant visa and eligibility for an immigrant visa. These are not all of the requirements.
Family preference relationship
In order to secure a family preference visa, the process usually begins with the filing of a Petition for Alien Relative, which is USCIS Form I-130. Only a limited number of family visas are made available to immigrants annually, and they are granted on a first-come, first-served basis depending on when you filed Form I-130. If you want to pursue a family preference Green Card, it is a good idea to get Form I-130 filed as soon as you can.
People who are full U.S. citizens can sponsor more categories of relatives than people who are lawful permanent residents. That is, if you have obtained U.S. citizenship, then you can file family preference immigrant petitions for your spouse, children, parents and siblings. On the other hand, if you are a permanent resident of the U.S., but not a citizen, you can only file family preference petitions for your spouse or your unmarried children.