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There are five major categories for Family Based Immigrant Visas. With the exception of the Immediate Relative category, there are limits on the number of visas that may be issued in each category each year. Each month the State Department published a Visa Bulletin, which states whether visas are available (current) in each respective category. You can determine whether a visa is available based on your priority date. In the family category, the priority date is the date your Petition for Alien Relative is filed with the INS.

Immigration based upon one's relationship to a U.S. citizen or Permanent Resident is categorized as follows:

  • Immediate Relatives:
    Spouses, Parents or Unmarried Children under age 21 of US Citizens
  • First Preference:
    Unmarried Sons and Daughters of US Citizens
  • Second Preference:
    A. Spouses and Minor Children of Permanent Residents
    B. Unmarried Sons and Daughters of Permanent Residents
  • Third Preference:
    Married Sons and Daughters of U.S. Citizens
  • Fourth Preference:
    Brothers and Sisters of Adult U.S. Citizens
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