Eaton & Associates Immigration Lawyers

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You are here: Family Immigration Preference Categories (VISA Bulletin)


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Our staff is multilingual, serving clients located around the world from our offices on the U.S. West Coast.


Whether you are entering America for the first time or pursuing citizenship, we will help you in the legal process.

Courtroom Gavel

With extensive courtroom and trial experience, we can defend you against deportation and other threats.

Experienced Scientist

We assist employers in obtaining H1B visas to help skilled international workers join their U.S. staff.

Preference Categories (VISA Bulletin)

Preference Categories (Visa Bulletin)

U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents who have family members within one of the preference categories may file family petitions for their relative, but they will have to wait until there is a visa available before they can proceed to either consular process or apply for adjustment of status. The reason for this is that there is a cap or limit on how many persons in each category may obtain permanent residency, i.e. a “green card” each year. Depending on which category your relative is in and what country he or she is from, these waits can take anywhere from a few months to over 15 years. It is difficult to predict how long wait times will be because how quickly the wait lists move depends in part on how many people in each category actually obtain green cards each month.

Once a U.S. citizen or permanent resident files a family petition, it is assigned a priority date. The priority date will be the date of filing even if it takes several years for the Immigration Service to approve the petition. The Department of State publishes a “Visa Bulletin” each month that sets forth the cutoff date for each preference category. Foreign nationals with priority dates before the cut off date in their category may proceed to either consular process or adjust status, as appropriate. Also, once the priority date becomes current applicants in the preference categories my generally immigrate along with their spouse and minor children, unless, of course, their category does not permit them to be married.

A link to the current, Visa Bulletin is found below. In order to assist you in using it, the following are the definitions for each category. Note that “All other Chargeability Areas” means foreign nationals who are NOT from one of the other countries listed separately.

  1. Unmarried sons and daughters of U.S. citizens (i.e. children over 21 years old).
  2. Second
    1. Spouses and unmarried minor children of Permanent Residents
    2. Sons and Daughters (over21) of permanent Residents
  3. Married sons and daughters of U.S. Citizens
  4. Siblings of U.S. Citizens

Our Services

If you believe you may a need a waiver for a prior deport in order to return to the U.S, contact the law offices of Eaton and Associates today for a free consultation. First, we will confirm if a waiver is required and if you meet the eligibility requirements to file for one. If you are eligible for a waiver, we will consult with you at every step of the process and prepare the required forms and supporting documentation for your waiver packet. We will meet with you and your family members and thoroughly analyze your case and advise you about what documentation and evidence would be beneficial to a favorable result to your waiver application. We will make sure that you understand the process and know what to expect when you appear at you waiver appointment.

Fresno, California

744 P St., Ste. 311
Fresno, CA 93721
(559) 266-7007

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Bakersfield, California

707 18th Street
Bakersfield, CA 93301
(661) 742-7007

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Salem, Oregon

3890 Lancaster Dr. NE
Salem, OR 97305
(503) 339-7311

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