There are two basic categories under which immigrant visas (permanent residence) based on a family relationship are issued.
1. Immediate Relatives, which are not subject to annual quota limit.
2. Preference categories, which are subject to annual quota limit
– A child born in wedlock;
– A stepchild, whether or not born out of wedlock, who has not reached the age of 18 at the time of the marriage creating the status of stepchild occurred; – A child legitimated before age 18; – A child born out of wedlock. If the immigration benefit is sought by, through, or on behalf of the natural father, a bona fide parent-child relationship with the father must be proven. – A child adopted before the age of 16, who has been in the legal custody of, and who has resided with, the adoptive parent for at least two years. – A child, under age 16 when the petition is filed, who is an orphan and who has been, or will be, adopted by a U.S. citizen. If the child is a natural sibling of the aforementioned orphan, the older sibling may immigrate if the petition is filed on his or her behalf before age 18. – A child, under the age of 16 when the petition filed, who has been adopted in a foreign state that is a party to the Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption done at the Hague on 5/29/93, or who is emigrating from such a foreign state to be adopted in the U.S.
– F-2A – This sub-category includes spouses and children of lawful permanent residents. – F-2B – This sub-category includes unmarried sons and daughters of lawful permanent residents.
The Immigration and Nationality Act also provides relief for battered spouses and children of lawful permanent residents.
It is also important to note that spouses and children of preference immigrants are entitled to derivative status. Immediate relative petitions do not allow for derivative beneficiaries, except for self-petitions filed by widows and battered spouses/children of U.S. citizens. In addition, the determination of when an alien may qualify as a “child” under the immediate relative and preference categories as well as a derivative beneficiary has been amended by the Child Status Protection Act.