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Family-based Immigration

Immediate Relatives of U.S. Citizens 

Immediate relatives are defined as spouses, children, and parents of U.S. citizens. Visa numbers are immediately available for immediate relatives of U.S. citizens, making this category the easiest and quickest way to immigrate to the United States. For family-based preference categories, beneficiaries must wait 5 to 15 years for visas to become available.

Spouses of U.S. Citizens

Marriage to a U.S. citizen results in conditional resident status unless the marriage has existed for at least 2 years at the time the immigrant status is granted. Conditional residents must apply for removal of their conditional status within 90 days of the expiry of this 2 year period of conditional status. If the spouse of the U.S. citizen is in the United States, the petition for permanent residence and spouse’s application for adjustment of status are filed at the nearest INS district office. The spouse may also apply for work authorization and advance parole (if eligible) to be able to travel outside the U.S. while the adjustment application is pending.  If the spouse is outside of the United States, the U.S. citizen submits the immigrant visa petition to an INS Regional Service Center. On approval, the spouse applies for his or her immigrant visa at a U.S. Consulate abroad.  While the immigrant visa petition is pending, the U.S. citizen may apply for a K-3 visa so that the spouse may enter the U.S. while the INS engages in its lengthy adjudication of the immigrant visa petition.

Children of U.S. Citizens

To qualify as an immediate relative, a child must be under 21 years of age and unmarried. A “child” may include a step-child as long as the child is under 18 years of age at the time the step-relationship is created.  Adopted children are eligible as immediate relatives if they were adopted before attaining the age of 16 years and resided with the U.S. citizen parent in legal custody for at least 2 years before the filing of the immigrant visa petition.

Parents of U.S. Citizens

A U.S. citizen must be at least 21 years of age to apply for his parents.

To request a consultation regarding an immigrant visa petition for an immediate relative, please contact our office at

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