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What are family based immigration quotas in the U.S.?

Anyone in Texas involved in the immigration process understands its many complexities. So complex are its regulations that many may feel discouraged from initiating it. However, for families separated from loved ones living outside the U.S., the desire to reunify here often prompts action.

Fortunately, U.S. immigration policy supports that action. Indeed, family reunification is one of the primary goals of this policy. As such, the federal government sets quotas to ensure that sufficient visas become available every year to allow this to happen. The question then becomes how are these quotas regulated?

Priority given to immediate family members

Per the family-based immigration quota system, immediate family members have priority. In this context, the law considers “immediate family members” to be:

  • Spouses of current U.S. citizens
  • Unmarried minor children of U.S. citizens
  • Parents of U.S. citizens

For prospective immigrants in this category, officials make an unlimited number of visas available.

Visa allocations for other family members

What about other types of family members? According to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, priority is next given to unmarried adult children of U.S. citizens, then to spouses and minor children of legal permanent residents, then to unmarried adult children of legal permanent residents, then to married adult children of U.S. citizens, and finally to siblings of U.S. citizens.

As for the exact number of visas allocated annually, officials begin with 480,000, then subtract the number of immediate relative visas given in the previous year (along with the number of aliens paroled into the U.S. during the same time frame). From that number, a minimum of 226,000 visas are then allocated for the remaining family preference categories.