Most Family-Sponsored Immigrants Are Immediate Relatives of U.S. Citizens


Spouses, parents, and unmarried children under 21 make up 69% of the family-sponsored green cards issued each year

Nov 26, 2019


If you are a U.S. citizen, you may sponsor your spouse, your parents, and any unmarried children under 21 years old for a green card. These close family relationships make up the great majority (69%) of the family-sponsored green cards issued each year, and are unconstrained by annual caps.

All of the other family-sponsored green cards have to fit within a cap of 226,000 per year, including all of the following categories (where “adult” means 21 or older, and “minor” means under 21):

  • Relatives of U.S. citizens:
    • Unmarried adult children and their minor children (“F1”)
    • Married children and their spouses and minor children (“F3”)
    • Siblings and their spouses and minor children (“F4”)
  • Relatives of lawful permanent residents:
    • Spouses and unmarried minor children (“F2A”)
    • Unmarried adult children (“F2B”)

No other family relationships — cousins, aunts, uncles, or grandparents — can lead directly to a green card.


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About half the spouses, minor children, and parents of U.S. citizens are already in the United States when they become permanent residents, typically because they first arrived on a temporary student or work visa.

Other family-sponsored immigrants, however, are much more likely to be waiting abroad for their green cards.


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Learn more in our 2019 family-based immigration report.


MORE INFORMATION ABOUT FAMILY-BASED IMMIGRATION:

Trump Administration’s Plan Would Drastically Reduce Family-Sponsored Immigration

Wait Time for Some Green Card Categories Could Be 100 years Plus

Family-Sponsored Immigrants Better Educated Than Native-Born U.S. Citizens

Map of Family-Sponsored Immigrants In the United States

Nearly 4 Million People Waiting For Family-Sponsored Green Card

Spouses and Children of Green Card Holders Sometimes Wait Years to Live Together In U.S.

Canada and Australia Issue Twice the Number of Permanent Resident Visas Compared to U.S.

Majority of Immigrants Obtain Green Card Through Family

Wait Times for Family-Sponsored Green Cards Have Nearly Doubled


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