The United States Government approves a significant number of immigrant (residency) visas each year through family petitions, which are categorized into two main groups, "Immediate Family Members" and "Preferred Family Members." Immediate family members do not have a waiting list, so they are eligible to apply for adjustment of status (residence) immediately. Relatives with preferences are subject to a limited number of places determined by the congress in 1977. This number of residences granted according to the different preferences that will be explained later, are in a much lower number than the requests submitted each year, which generates a longer waiting time.
The two categories of Family Petitions require two basic steps: One, submit the petition to the Immigration Service, and once it is approved and available, Two; apply for adjustment of status (residence) itself.


  • Spouse of American citizens.
  • Widows/Widowers of American citizens.
  • Children of an American citizen, who are under the age of 21 and single.
  • Parents of US citizens, if the child is over 21 years old.
  • Adoptive children of American citizens, if they were adopted before the age of 16.
  • Stepchildren o Stepparents of American citizens, if the relationship existed before the stepson was 18 years old.


Petitions for relatives have established an order of preference according to the degree of relationship that exists with the American citizen.

  • F1. First preference: Children of an American citizen, and who are over the age of 21 and single.
  • F2. Second preference:
  • A. Spouses and children of permanent residents, and who are under the age of 21.
  • B. Children of permanent residents over the age of 21 and single.
  • F3. Third preference: Children of American citizens, and who are married.
  • F4. Fourth preference: Siblings of the American citizen.

The waiting time for each preference degree varies depending on the number of residences available for each of the preferences, the number of applications submitted and the country of origin of the petitioner.

Add Your Comment