Family-Based Immigration Process
Family-based immigration allows foreign nationals to become permanent residents of the United States if they have a qualifying relative to sponsor them.
There are two groups of family-based immigrant visa categories: immediate relative immigrant visas and family preference immigrant visas. Both categories require an eligible U.S. citizen (and, in rare cases, a permanent resident) to submit an immigrant petition to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services that demonstrates the eligible family relationship. This petition must be approved before permanent residence can be secured.
Immediate Relative Immigrant Visas
Immediate relative immigrant visas are based on a family relationship with a U.S. citizen, and include the following:
- Spouse (IR-1 visa)Unmarried child under 21 years of age (IR-2 visa)
- Orphan adopted abroad (IR-3 visa)
- Orphan to be adopted in the United States (IR-4 visa)
- Parent, where the U.S. citizen child is at least 21 years old (IR-5 visa)
There are no limitations on the number of immigrant visas issued each year for immediate relatives. This means that immediate relatives of U.S. citizens can apply for permanent residence once an immigrant petition is approved (or concurrently if present in the United States), and avoid the prolonged delays faced by those who qualify for a family preference immigrant visa.
Family Preference Immigrant Visas
Immigrant visas may be available for foreign nationals who have more distant relationships with a U.S. citizen or, in some cases, a U.S. permanent resident. The family preference immigrant visas include four categories of family relationships where a foreign national may be sponsored by the qualifying relative for permanent residence.
These categories are:
- Unmarried sons and daughters of U.S. citizens, and their minor children (Family First Preference (F1))
- Spouses, minor children, and unmarried sons and daughters over 21 years of age of permanent residents (Family Second Preference (F2))
- Married sons and daughters of U.S. citizens, and their spouses and minor children (Family Third Preference (F3))
- Brothers and sisters of U.S. citizens, and their spouses and minor children, provided the U.S. citizens are at least 21 years old (Family Fourth Preference (F4))
The number of immigrant visas available for each family preference category is limited. If the number of qualified applicants exceeds the number of visas available for a particular year, there will be a wait. Unfortunately, this wait is usually significant and families can be separated for years as a result. See the U.S. Department of State's Visa Bulletin for more information.
Helping Our Clients Resolve Family Immigration CasesRegardless of what type of family immigration case you may have, the process will be complicated and time consuming. Our attorneys are here to work tirelessly on your behalf to help ensure that your family will remain together, or be reunited as quickly as possible. To schedule a consultation to discuss your family immigration issues, call (520) 882-8852 or toll free at (877) 882-8852, or contact us.