Family-sponsored preference immigrants consists of unmarried sons and daughters of U.S. citizens (F1), spouses and unmarried children of permanent resident aliens or green card holders (F2), married sons and daughters of U.S. citizens (F3), and brothers and sisters of U.S. citizens (F4), and the spouse and children of each such immigrant who accompany or follow to join that immigrant. Child in the F1 category includes an adopted child if: the child was adopted while under the age of 16 years (or, in some cases, 18 years), and the child has been in the legal custody of, and has resided with, the adopting parents for at least two years. Note that there is no provision within the family-sponsored preference for a permanent resident or a green card holder to petition for brothers, sisters, parents, or married children.
Spouse of U.S. Citizen
Spouses of U.S. citizens are immediate relatives and therefore exempted from numerical limitations. This means they don’t follow the priority dates on the visa bulletin like the family-sponsored preference immigrants. Spouses of U.S. citizens need to submit evidence of a bona fide marriage and valid termination of any prior marriages. They can survive the death of the U.S. citizen petitioner for the benefit of certain widows and widowers of U.S. citizens.
Child of U.S. Citizen (Includes Stepchild, Adopted Child, and Illegitimate Child)
A child of a U.S. citizen is an immediate relative and exempt from numerical restrictions. A child must be both unmarried and under 21 when the petition was filed, when the visa was issued, and when he or she entered the United States or was adjusted to permanent residence. However, a child who has aged out could be eligible for one of the family-sponsored preference classifications, for example, as the unmarried son or daughter of a U.S. citizen under F1 category or married son or daughter of a U.S. citizen under the F3 category.
A stepchild is included in the definition of child, if the child was under 18 at the time the marriage occurred creating the status of stepchild. The alien stepchild is therefore entitled to immediate relative status.
The immigration law considers a child born out of wedlock to be a child for immigration purposes in relationship to its mother. The law also recognizes the relationship in respect to the natural father, even if the child is not legitimated, if the father had or has a bona fide parent-child relationship with the child.
The law also grants immediate relative status to an adopted child if: the child was adopted while under the age of 16 years (or, in some cases, 18 years), and the child has been in the legal custody of, and has resided with, the adopting parents for at least two years. The legal custody may take place before or after the adoption.