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.
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.
Learn more in our 2019 family-based immigration report.