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There are 2 different categories for family-based immigrant visa categories, immediate relatives (IR) and family preference (F) categories. These two categories may also be categorized as unlimited and limited as one category has no visa cap per year, and one is limited. While the immediate relative category is strictly for U.S. Citizens, Family categories are for more distant relatives of U.S. Citizens and certain visas for Legal Permanent Residents.

You may view the most recent visa bulletin HERE.

Immediate Relative

These visa types are based on a close family relationship with a U.S. Citizen described as an Immediate Relative (IR). The number of immigrants in these categories is not limited each fiscal year. Immediate relative visa types include:

  • IR-1: Spouse of a U.S. Citizen
  • IR-2: Unmarried Child Under 21 Years of Age of a U.S. Citizen
  • IR-3: Orphan adopted abroad by a U.S. Citizen
  • IR-4: Orphan to be adopted in the U.S. by a U.S. citizen
  • IR-5: Parent of a U.S. Citizen who is at least 21 years old
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Family Preference

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). There are fiscal year numerical limitations on family preference immigrants, shown at the end of each category. The family preference categories are:

  • F-1: Unmarried sons and daughters (age 21 and over) of U.S. citizens, and their minor children, if any. (23,400)
  • F-2: Spouses, minor children, and unmarried sons and daughters (age 21 and over) of LPRs. At least seventy-seven percent of all visas available for this category will go to the spouses and children; the remainder is allocated to unmarried sons and daughters. (114,200)
  • F-3: Married sons and daughters of U.S. citizens, and their spouses and minor children. (23,400)
  • F-4: 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. (65,000)
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