Permanent Residence: Family-based
  1. IMMEDIATE RELATIVE
    Spouse, minor children, and parents of U.S. Citizens - can apply for permanent residence (green card) as soon as qualifying relationship exists.

  2. OTHER FAMILY-BASED PREFERENCE CATEGORIES
    Must wait until visa number is available before applying. Family preference categories are:

    1. First: (F1) Unmarried Sons and Daughters of U.S. Citizens

    2. Second: Spouses and Children, and Unmarried Sons and Daughters of Permanent Residents
      1. (F2A) Spouses and Children of Permanent Residents
      2. (F2B) Unmarried Sons and Daughters (21 years of age or older) of Permanent Residents

    3. Third: (F3) Married Sons and Daughters of U.S. Citizens

    4. Fourth: (F4) Brothers and Sisters of Adult U.S. Citizens
VISA ALLOTMENT AND THE VISA BULLETIN FOR FAMILY AND EMPLOYMENT PREFERENCES
Section 201 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) sets an annual minimum family-sponsored preference limit of 226,000. The worldwide level for annual employment-based preference immigrants is at least 140,000. Individuals (and sometimes their spouses and/or children) can apply for permanent residence when a visa number is available. Visa numbers are available only for applicants whose priority date is earlier than the cut-off date listed in the Visa Bulletin: http://travel.state.gov/visa/bulletin/bulletin_1360.html

Many categories have very long waits before a visa number is available.

Family-based applications for green cards can be processed in the U.S. or at a U.S. Embassy or consulate abroad, depending on circumstances. Specific forms, detailed documentation and an interview are required. There can be many complex issues.

Please note: You should treat this information as a guide for discussion with an attorney. Processes and regulations change constantly. There may be issues not mentioned here which affect the approach, timing, and success of your case.