Family-based immigration is divided into categories based upon the petitioner’s (sponsor’s) status as either a U.S. citizen or a lawful permanent resident and their relationship to the sponsored relative. 

A U.S. citizen may petition for the following family members: 


      1) Immediate Relatives  (No Derivatives Permitted)

  • Spouse/Fiancee   
  • Parent
  • Minor Child (under 21) that is not married (includes step-children if married to biological parent prior to child's 18th birthday)

      2) Preference Categories (Derivatives Permitted)

  • Adult Child that is not married 
  • Adult Child that is married 
  • Brother or Sister 

A lawful permanent resident of the United States may petition for the following family members, for which derivatives are permitted:

  • Spouse
  • Minor Child that is not married 
  • Adult Child that is not married (derivatives permitted)


A sponsored alien is considered a child until the age of 21 and some children remain eligible even after their 21st birthday under the Child Status Protection Act. Some of these categories allow for derivative relatives (such as the sponsored person’s spouse or minor children under 21 that are not married) to be included in the process. Those categories that allow for derivative relatives to be sponsored are noted above and are referred to as the "preference categories."  

Certain relationships are considered "immediate relatives."  Immediate Relative petitions have no limit on the number of visas that can be granted and the process is generally shorter than it is for the preference categories.  Immediate Relatives are also permitted to apply for adjustment of status (green card) in the United States even if the individual is out of status.  By law, immediate relatives consist only of the spouse, parents or minor child (under 21 years old that is not married) of United States citizens. 

For the preference categories, the date that the I-130 alien relative petition is filed indicates the case’s "priority date." There are a limited number of visas for each category creating backlogs which determines how long it may take from the time that a family petition is filed until the sponsored family member is eligible to apply for his or her residency.   Only when the priority date becomes current can the sponsored family member apply for his or her residency either in the U.S. through the adjustment of status process or at a U.S. consulate overseas through immigrant visa consular processing.  The U.S. Department of States issues a monthly "
Visa Bulletin" which informs the public of which priority dates are current for each of the various preference categories that month.   

Rostova Westerman Law Group P.A. regularly handles family petition cases no matter where the sponsor or their foreign relative is located and whether the application will proceed as consular processing through the National Visa Center or adjustment of status in the United States.

Have questions or would like to make an appointment? Call us at (786) 442-3177 or use our contact form.

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172 N. Main Street, Suite 1

Clayton, GA 30525


Office:  786.442.3177 (Spanish) 

Text:      786.408.4727

Fax:      786.228.4946


Or use our contact form.

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