In general, most adult US citizens (21 years of age and older) who reside or plan to live in the United States are eligible to petition and file an application for an immigrant visa (also known as a green card or permanent residence) for your foreign family, relatives. However, there are several requirements that both a US citizen and his foreign relative must fulfill, including the provision of evidence proving family relationships, such as a birth certificate, and in the case of married couples, proving that the relationship is real and was started in good faith, and not just to get immigration benefits.
For immigration purposes, some relatives are considered “next of kin” and others are considered part of the “family preference category.” The waiting time for the next of kin is very short. An application for a green card can be processed very quickly. This is due to the fact that immediate family members do not need to wait until the visa number becomes available. The visa number is always available for next of kin. The waiting time for family members can take several years. They will have to wait until the visa number becomes available.
For immigration purposes, the next of kin of a US citizen is:
- Spouse (wife or husband)
- Unmarried children under the age of 21 (including foster children and foster children)
- Parents (father and mother)
For immigration purposes, relatives in the “Family Preference Category” of a US citizen are:
- Married sons and daughters of any age
- Unmarried sons or daughters over the age of 21
- Brother and sister
Note. In most cases, the applicant’s family green cards (spouse and unmarried children under 21) can also apply for an immigrant visa to get a green card as a derived relative.