Certain foreign nationals can obtain permanent resident status on the basis of family relationships. The family-based categories are as follows:

    Spouses, parents, and children (unmarried and under 21) of U.S. Citizens;

    Unmarried sons and daughters (over 20) of U.S. Citizens;

    Spouses and children (unmarried and under 21) of Permanent Residents;

    Unmarried sons and daughters (over 20) of Permanent Residents;

    Married sons and daughters (over 20) of U.S. Citizens; and

    Brothers and sisters of U.S. Citizens.


All of these categories, except the first, involve lengthy delays based on numerical quotas.

The category for Spouses, parents, and children (unmarried and under 21) of U.S. Citizens, still may involve delays in the processing of petitions and visa applications, but these delays are of much shorter duration than the multi-year delays encountered in all of the other family-sponsored categories (as detailed in the Department of State's Visa Bulletin). Additional delays are entailed in the case of any alien who is inadmissible (for example, on the basis of previous unlawful presence in the United States).

There also exist nonimmigrant visa categories for certain spouses and fiancÚ(e)s of U.S. Citizens, and their minor children. FiancÚ(e)s and their dependents may qualify for the K-1 and K-2 categories. Spouses and their dependents may qualify for the K-3 and K-4 categories.

In addition, certain relatives of U.S. Citizens and Permanent Residents are eligible for immigration status in the United States under the Violence Against Women's Act (VAWA).