There is a difference between immediate family members and extended family.
Immediate Family Members
Immediate family members are foreigners who are related to a U.S. citizen as follows:
- A spouse of a U.S. citizen.
- A fiancee of a U.S. citizen.
- A minor child if the marriage of the parents occurred while the child was under the age of 18 and the foreign spouse processes on either a spousal visa or on a stateside adjustment of status application.
- A child under the age of 21 if the foreign parent enters the U.S. on a fiancee visa.
- A parent of a U.S. citizen. Any U.S. citizen child must be 21 years of age or older.
Any other family members are not considered immediate family.Immediate family members are allowed to immigrate to the U.S. through normal filing procedures. Added delays are imposed for extended family members to help limit “chain migration.”
Anyone born in the U.S. is already a U.S. citizen.
Certain foreign family members are eligible to immigrate to the U.S. However, there are automatic delays put on these cases to help slow immigration to the U.S. Extended family members include:
- [F1] Unmarried Sons and Daughters of Citizens.
- [F2] Spouses and Children, and Unmarried Sons and Daughters of Permanent Resident green card holders.
- [F2A] Spouses and Children;
- [F2B] Unmarried Sons and Daughters who are 21 years of age or older.
- [F3] Married Sons and Daughters of U.S. Citizens.
- [F4] Brothers and Sisters of U.S. Citizens who are over the age of 21 years.
The following is a chart which shows the date petitions were filed for extended family members:
|Family – Sponsored||All Chargeability Areas Except Those Listed||CHINA-mainland born||INDIA||MEXICO||PHILIPPINES|
With extended family members, a petition must be filed, but then an automatic delay is placed on the file and the case will sit for 1 to 10 years or more. Old cases in line are cleared up and when the date you filed the petition comes up, then the case can move forward for immediate processing.
The delays on these cases change, depending on how many petitions are filed. Also, certain countries such as China, Mexico, India, the Philippines, and the Dominican Republic have far more applications on average than other countries. These countries have a longer waiting time to process because of the large number of applicants.
Often, we receive calls from U.S. citizens who wished they filed years ago because time passes fast. You cannot be together with your family members in the U.S. unless you get started. Be aware that if your family member has a B visitor visa, the visa is subject to cancellation and your foreign relative may be blocked from the U.S. until the immigrant visa is processed.
If you have an interest in filing a petition for an extended family member, please let us know. Our legal fee to start a petition is not expensive, but depends on the case.
Green Card Holder Immigrating a Foreign Spouse