Securing a green card through family member sponsorship is one of the most popular routes to US permanent residency. There are two categories of family based green card applications. The first is application through immediate relatives. The second is through family preference categories.
Securing a green card through family members who are immediate family is generally the simpler option. The US places no restrictions on the number of these family based green card applications. If you are the spouse of a US citizen, the unmarried and minor child of a US citizen, an orphan adopted by a US citizen, or the parent of a US citizen who is at least 21, you may qualify for a family based green card as an immediate relative.
If you do not have immediate family members who are US citizens and who can sponsor you for a green card, you may still secure a green card through family member sponsorship if you have a more distant family relationship with a US citizen or green card holder. However, there are limits to how many of these green applications are approved each fiscal year. If you apply for a green card through this method, you may be given a priority date and you may need to wait months or even years to get your green card. There are several categories for preference in this family green card category, known as first preference, second preference, third preference, and fourth preference:
- First preference. The family first preference category (F1) for family green cards includes the unmarried children of US citizens and any young children (under 18 years of age) of these children. There is a limit of 23,400 applications approved every fiscal year in this category.
- Second preference. The family second preference category (F2) for family green cards includes the minor children, spouses, and unmarried children of legal permanent residents. There is a limit of 114,200 applications approved every fiscal year in this category.
- Third preference. The family third preference category (F3) for family green cards includes the married children of US citizen, as well as their own families. There is a limit of 23, 400 applications approved every fiscal year in this category.
- Fourth preference. The family fourth preference category (F4) for family green cards includes the siblings of US citizens and their children and spouses. US citizens must be at least 21 years old to sponsor their siblings under this category. There is a limit of 65,000 applications approved every fiscal year in this category.