Who Falls Under The Category Of Immediate Relatives Of US Citizens
The Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) has created the category of immediate relatives of US citizens who are exempt from numerical quotas applicable to other family members of US citizens and family members of lawful permanent residents. INA has created the category of immediate relatives to give an opportunity to US citizens to easily reunite with their closest family members. Therefore, it is extremely important for US citizens and their family members to determine who falls under the category of immediate relatives.
Spouse of US Citizens
Spouses of US citizens comprise the first group that falls under the category of immediate relatives. INA § 201(b)(2)(A)(i). The marriage between the US citizen and his/her spouse shall be legitimate and shall not be entered into for immigration benefits. The US citizen and his/her spouse have to submit supporting documents showing that the legitimacy of the marriage.
The spouse of a US citizen will be granted a conditional residence if at the time of obtaining the permanent residence their marriage is less than two years old. Id. § 216(a)(1) and (h). The conditional residence is granted for two years, and the US citizen with his/her spouse shall file a joint petition to remove the conditions on residence within ninety days before the expiration of the two-year conditional green card.
Children under 21 of US Citizen
The category of immediate relatives also includes children of US citizens. Id. § 201(b)(2)(A)(i). To qualify as an immediate relative of a US citizen, the child must be unmarried and under twenty-one years of age. Id. § 101(b)(1). The INA definition of child includes:
(a) a child born in wedlock;
(b) a stepchild provided the marriage creating the status of stepchild occurred before the child turned eighteen;
(c) a legitimated child if the legitimation took place before the child turned eighteen and the child was in the legal custody of the legitimating parent at the time of legitimation;
(d) a child born out of wedlock through natural mother or through natural father if the father has or had a bona fide parent-child relationship with the child;
(e) a child that was adopted under the age of sixteen years if the child has been in the legal custody of and has resided with the adopting parent for at least two years. Id.
It should be noted that even if the child turns twenty-one during the processing of the immigration petition he/she will still qualify as an immediate relative if the immigration petition on the child’s behalf was filed before the child turned twenty-one.
Parents of US Citizens
The last group of family members that falls under the category of immediate relatives includes parents of US citizens. Id. § 201(b)(2)(A)(i). The US citizen child must be at least twenty-one years old in order to be able to sponsor his/her parents for a green card. Before turning twenty-one a US citizen child does not have a right to petition for his/her parents.
What Privileges do Immediate Relatives of US Citizens Have?
The immigration process is much easier for immediate relatives of US citizens in comparison to other family members of US citizens or family members of lawful permanent residents. First of all, immediate relatives of US citizens are exempt from the numerical quotas for the issuance of immigrant visas that apply to other family categories. This means that the approval of a US citizen’s petition for an immediate relative makes the immigrant visa immediately available for the immediate relative beneficiary. Another advantage of being an immediate relative of a US citizen is that if relatives falling under other family categories cannot adjust their status after overstaying their visa this bar does not apply to immediate relatives.
INA has made the sponsorship of immediate relatives much easier compared to other family categories. This process allows immediate relatives of US citizens to obtain permanent residence within a short period of time to reunite with their US citizen family members.
If you are a US citizen seeking to petition for an immigrant visa for an immediate relative or have questions regarding other family based immigration visas, we invite you to call our office and schedule a free immigration consultation with an experienced Glendale immigration lawyer.
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