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Watch: What Is the Preference System? | Immigration Attorney Mario Godoy

What Is The Preference System for Family-Based Green Cards?

United States immigration law allows certain foreigners who are family members of a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident to become lawful permanent residents (get a Green Card) based on their family relationships. The total number of immigrant visas issued each year is limited. The immigration preference system is a way to distribute the limited number of Green Cards that are available each year based on categories, or preferences. The citizen who has a family connection to the Green Card applicant will sponsor the applicant and must be at least 21 years old. The higher your preference category, the faster you are likely to receive a Green Card. Foreigners with a lower preference connection may have a substantially longer wait period than those with higher preference connections.

WATCH: Chicago Immigration Lawyer Mario Godoy explains What is the preference system?


In this video we’re going to answer, What is the preference system?

Every year there’s a limit on the number of immigrants who are allowed to immigrate into the United States on a family-based visa. The only family members that are not subject to this are immediate relatives.

Now we cover what an immediate relative is in a separate video. Relatives immigrating through a legal permanent resident as well as some immigrating through a U.S.  citizen are subject to the preference system. This system separates people into categories. It also controls how many visas are available in each of the four categories.

Once a visa is available in a category, a family member with an approved case can continue the immigration process. Here are the following preference categories:

• First, unmarried sons or daughters age 21 or over of a U.S. citizen parent

• Second, spouses or unmarried children of illegal permanent residents under 21 and unmarried sons or daughters over the age of 21 of a legal permanent residence

• Third, married sons and daughters of U.S. citizens

• Fourth, brothers and sisters of U.S. citizens where that citizen is at least 21 years old

If you have any questions on the green card process call us for a consultation.

Chicago Family-Based Green Card Attorney

The process of obtaining a family-based Green Card is complex and competitive. To help ensure that every step in the visa application process is completed to give the applicant the best opportunity for a speedy and successful outcome, a skilled immigration attorney can put their experience to work for you and review your circumstances to help you make the decisions to help you succeed. If you need help with an immigration issue, please contact our office at 855-554-6369.  

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