Family Visa Guide
Most people become a United States Citizen with the help of a family member. This can happen through a marriage, a parent or other close family member. Family based immigration provides a clear path to obtaining a green card and becoming a United States Citizen.
In this guide we will discuss:
What is a Family Based Visa Petition?
What Are the Family Based Visa Categories?
Who is considedred to be an Immediate Relative?
Who is considered to Other Family Members?
Overview of Family Based Immigration
The current United States immigration laws encourages having strong and unified families.
Keeping families together is one of the cornerstones of our immigration policies.
Currently, there are ongoing discussions about making changes to our immigration system. For now, Family based immigration is still the best way for most people to obtaining a green card.
Many immigrants struggle to find viable options to gain legal status. Family members often stand in a prime position to gain legal status.
Certain family relationships allows a petitioner to avoid numerical "caps". These caps can be found in other different Visas categories.
For example, a Hi-Tech worker in a H1-B or other employment based category could be subject to legally imposed caps. The same person would not face an issue if they are marrying a United States Citizen.
The first thing to remember is that only a United States Citizen can sponsor a family visa for a relative. The second thing to know is that not all family members qualify as beneficiaries.
Family Based Visa Categories
There are two groups of family-based immigrant visa categories:
- Immediate Relatives
- Spouse of U.S. Citizens
- Children (unmarried and under 21)
- Parents of U.S. citizens
- Other Family Members
- First preference
- Unmarried adult sons and daughters of U.S. citizens (21 or older)
- Second preference (2A)
- Spouses of Green Card holders
- Unmarried children (under 21) of permanent residents
- Second preference (2B)
- Unmarried adult sons and daughters of permanent residents
- Third preference
- Married sons and daughters of U.S. citizens (any age)
- Fourth preference
- Brothers and sisters of adult U.S. citizens
Let's take a look at the first category.
Immediate relative immigrant visas
Only a United States Citizen can sponsor an immediate relative. These types of petitions are unlimited in number.
- (1) A spouse
- (2) Unmarried children under 21 years of age;
- (3) An orphan adopted abroad;
- (4) An orphan to be adopted in the U.S.;
- (5) A parent
In these category the lower the number, the higher the priority will be. In other words a spouse (1) will be a priority over a parent (5).
Other Family Based Preferences
The good news is that Family Preference Immigrant Visas are available to both United States Citizens and to Legal Permanent Residents.
What can potentially bad news is that There are caps limitations on family preference immigrant visas. These caps are based on a numerical calculation and preference subcategories.
The Preference categories are based on relationships and are as follows:
● Family First Preference (F1): Unmarried sons and daughters of U.S. citizens, and their minor children;
● Family Second Preference (F2) ○ (F2A) : Spouses and minor children of LPRs; ○ (F2B) : Unmarried sons and daughters (age 21 or over) of LPRs;
● Family Third Preference (F3): Married sons and daughters of U.S. citizens, and their spouses and minor children;
● Family Fourth Preference (F4): Brothers and sisters of U.S. citizens, and their spouses and minor children.
Limits are imposed on the number of family-based preferences. There are also limits to the type of family members eligible for sponsorship.
Although you may have great fondness for distant relatives; unfortunately close relatives—like spouses, children, brothers are eligible.
Although a U.S. citizen can sponsor an unlimited number of spouses, unmarried minor children, and their parents, the sponsorship of most other eligible relationships per year is limited to roughly 226,000 visas