IMMEDIATE AND NON-IMMEDIATE FAMILY MEMBERS
Under current U.S. immigration law, there are several methods available to citizens and Lawful Permanent Residents to petition for family members living abroad.
The term “Immediate Relatives” takes on a special meaning under U.S. immigration law. This concept encompasses the spouse and unmarried children under the age of 21 of a U.S. citizen. In the case of citizens over the age of 21, their parents also fall into the category of immediate relatives. The “immediate relative” category is of great importance, as it allows a U.S. citizen to sponsor these relatives for immigrant visas, granting them the ability to enter and reside permanently in the United States. Unlike other family visa categories, immediate relative visas are not subject to annual limits, providing flexibility in the immigration process.
Non-immediate relatives include relatives who, although they do not fit the specific definition of immediate relatives, may be sponsored by U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents for immigrant visas. This includes relatives such as brothers and sisters, as well as married children over the age of 21. Unlike visas for immediate relatives, visas for non-immediate relatives may be subject to certain annual limits, highlighting the importance of understanding the different categories within the legal framework to facilitate the family reunification process in the United States.
Below is a more detailed summary table of immediate and non-immediate relatives of a U.S. citizen and a Legal Permanent Resident.