There are two groups of family-based immigrant visas, namely:
a. Immediate Relative (IR) Categories
There are five categories falling under this group, which are based on a close family relationship with a U.S. citizen. IR categories are not subject to numerical limitations such that visa numbers are immediately available to the beneficiaries of IR petitions.
IR visa categories include:
1. IR-1: Spouse of a U.S. Citizen
2. IR-2: Unmarried Child Under 21 Years of Age of a U.S. Citizen
3. IR-3: Orphan adopted abroad by a U.S. Citizen
4. IR-4: Orphan to be adopted in the U.S. by a U.S. citizen
5. IR-5: Parent of a U.S. Citizen who is at least 21 years old
b. Family Preference Categories:
These visa types are for specific, more distant, family relationships with a U.S. citizen and some specified relationships with a Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR). Family preference categories are subject to numerical limitations
1. Family First Preference (F1): Unmarried sons and daughters of U.S. citizens, and their minor children, if any.
2. Family Second Preference (F2): The following relatives of LPRS:
a. Spouses, minor children (F2A).
b. Unmarried sons and daughters age 21 and over (F2B).
3. Family Third Preference (F3): Married sons and daughters of U.S. citizens, and their spouses and minor children.
4. Family Fourth Preference (F4): Brothers and sisters of U.S. citizens, and their spouses and minor children, provided the U.S. citizens are at least 21 years of age.
Under immigration laws, a child can be any of the following:
• A biological child born in wedlock;
• A biological child born out of wedlock:
If the mother is petitioning, no legitimation is required;
If the father is petitioning, legitimation is required in accordance with the laws of the father or child’s place of residence; or
If the father is petitioning and the relationship is not legitimated under applicable laws, a bona fide parent-child relationship must be shown to have existed prior to the child’s 21st birthday and while the child was unmarried;
• A step-child, as long as the marriage creating the step-relationship occurred before the child turned 18; or
• An adopted child if the child was adopted prior to age 16 (one exception is if siblings are adopted, as long as one was under 16, the other could be older than 16 but younger than 18), AND the adopted child has resided in the legal and physical custody of the adoptive parent for 2 years prior to filing.