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Family-Based Immigration

by Hamid R. Kashani, Attorney at Law
Nov 07, 2018 (last modified Jan 31, 2019)

U.S. citizens and permanent residents can sponsor their family members for immigration to the United States. Citizens can sponsor their spouses, children, parents, and brothers & sisters. Permanent residents can sponsor their spouses and unmarried children. Each category of children has its own visa classification and waiting period, which can be as long as several years.

Preference Family
Description Approximate
Wait Time
IR-1 / CR-1 Spouses of U.S. Citizens None
IR-2 / CR-2 Unmarried children of U.S. citizens under 21 None
IR-3 Foreign orphans adopted abroad by a U.S. citizen None
IR-4 Foreign orphans adopted in the U.S. by a U.S. citizen None
IR-5 Parents of U.S. citizens that are at least 21 years of age None
1st F1 Unmarried sons and daughters of U.S. citizens and their minor children about 7 years
2nd F2A Spouses & unmarried children (under 21), of U.S. Permanent Residents about 2 years
F2B Unmarried sons and daughters (21 or older) of U.S. Permanent Residents about 7 years
3rd F3 Married sons and daughters of U.S. citizens and their spouses and minor children about 12 years
4th F4 Brothers & sisters of adult U.S. citizens (21 years or older) and their spouses and minor children about 13 years

The approximate wait times, shown above, are for comparison purposes only. You may check the visa availability of a particular visa category for your country of origin.  See Priority Date & Visa Availability.

Permanent residents cannot petition for the immigration of their married children, parents, or brothers & sisters. They can do that after they naturalize (become a citizen).

Note that derivative beneficiary spouses and children (under 21 and unmarried), who accompany or "follow to join" principal immigrants in other immigrant classes (such as employment-based classes), do not fall within the categories shown above.


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