Preference Categories

Immigrant Visas for the spouses and children of lawful permanent residents, as well as the married sons and daughters of U.S. citizens and their spouses and children, and the brothers and sisters of U.S. citizens and their spouses and children, are subject to the numerical limitations under the family-based preference categories.

There are five family-based preference categories:

1: unmarried sons and daughters of U.S. citizens and their children;

2A: spouses and minor unmarried children of lawful permanent residents;

2B: adult unmarried children of lawful permanent residents;

3: married sons and daughters of U.S. Citizens and their spouses and children;

4: brothers and sisters of U.S. citizens and their spouses and children.

The amount of time that a petition remains pending is determined by the immigration status of the petitioner, the family relationship between the petitioner and the beneficiary, as well as the availability of immigrant visas within each preference category. Family members with a visa petition in the preference categories often wait many years before an immigrant visa becomes available.