As it relates to family-based residency in immigration law, an immediate relative is not necessarily what readily comes to mind. A person can become a resident of the United States through only certain family members. Therefore, an immediate relative is defined by the immigration status and age of the relative petitioning for family members of certain ages and familial relationships.
An immediate relative is a person whose family-based petition is immediately available upon approval to be used by the beneficiary relative to apply for residency. These individuals are also not subject to the preference categories for which there is generally a wait time for a family-based petition to be current so it can be used for lawful permanent residency. An immediate relative is a United States citizen who petitions for a spouse and an adult United States citizen who petitions for a parent or a child who is under the age of twenty-one.
The other family-based petition relationships fall under four preference categories. The first preference category consists of United States citizens petitioning for unmarried sons and daughters who are twenty-one years old or older. The second preference is lawful permanent residents petitioning for spouses and children under twenty-one years of age and unmarried sons and daughters. The third preference category is United States citizens petitioning for their married sons and daughters. Finally, the fourth preference category is adult United States citizens petitioning for their siblings.
If a familial relationship does not consist of an immediate relative relationship or a preference category family relationship a family-based process for residency is not available. For example, a lawful permanent resident cannot petition his or her parents until he or she becomes a United States citizen.
Antonio Revilla is a Former U.S. Immigration Prosecutor and Miami Immigration Lawyer. If you have any questions about Family-Based Residency or any other immigration issue, contact Revilla Law Firm for a Free In-Office Consultation (305) 858-2323.