USA family visa categories

U.S. Visas for Spouses and Fiancé(e)s

You can bring your spouse or unmarried partner to live in the U.S. as a Green Card holder. To do this, you must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident, and you need to file a Form I-130 Petition for Alien Relative.

Your spouse can follow two different immigration paths to join you in the U.S.

If you apply for a K-3 Visa, or Spouse Visa, you must have non-immigrant intent. That means that you will be able to adjust your status and seek permanent residence only after you enter the U.S. However, this is a multiple entry visa, and your spouse will be allowed to travel to and from the U.S. as long as the permit is valid. If your marriage ends, your partner must leave the country within 30 days.

If your spouse wishes to settle in the U.S. permanently, he or she must petition for a CR1 visa or Family-based visa. This is an immigrant permit that grants conditional U.S. permanent resident status. In this case, you do not need to apply for a work permit to seek employment in the country. However, if you wish to leave the U.S., you will need to apply for a re-entry permit to keep your resident status.

Likewise, your dependent minor children can apply to settle in the U.S. through a children Green Card.

If you and your fiancé wish to get married in the U.S., you can apply for a K-1 nonimmigrant visa or Fiancé Visa. To be eligible, you must plan to get married within 90 days of you entering the U.S.

U.S. Family-based Non-immigrant Visas

You can request a Non-immigrant Visa for your relatives to allow them to enter the U.S. and continue their immigration process at a later stage. The waiting time for Family-based nonimmigrant visas is usually quicker, and it is not subject to an annual cap.

The U.S. non-immigrant Family Visas are:

  • K-1 Visa, for fiancés who wish to enter the U.S. To be eligible, you must prove that you intend to get married within 90 days of entry;
  • K-2 Visa, for children of K-1 Visa holders;
  • K-3 Visa, for spouses (wives and husbands), residing abroad. The application must be filed from the country where the marriage took place;
  • K-4 Visa, for dependants of K-3 Visa holders.

To meet the legal definition of “dependants”, your children must be under the age of 21, unmarried and not be living an independent life. Your child’s visa status will automatically end 30 days after they turn 21 or they get married.

If you are granted a non-immigrant visa, you can apply to extend your stay before your permit expires. In the case of dependents, their renewal application must be submitted together with your request.

If you fail to get married before your authorized stay expires or if your marriage ends, you must leave the U.S. within 30 days. If you meet the requirements, you can still apply for a different immigration path, such as a Worker Visa.

U.S. Permanent Residence Family Visas (Green Cards)

If you are a U.S. citizen or permanent resident (LPR), you can petition for your family member to join you. Based on their relationship with you, your relatives can either receive a Green Card or a Family-based Visa.

It is important to note that only your immediate relatives can get a Family-based Green Card. If your other family members wish to emigrate to the U.S., they can apply for a Family Preference Immigrant Visa.

This means that you can seek permanent residence only for the following categories:

There is a fiscal year numeral limitation for these permits, and visas are usually issued in chronological order. You may need to wait several months or years before becoming a priority, and having your application processed. The visa bulletin, released every year, provides an overview of the availability of each Family Preference Visa.

To apply for a Family-based Green Card, you need to file the Form I-130 and Form I-148 to register for permanent residence. The number of immigrant permits available for immediate relatives is not limited each fiscal year.

Which family visa do you need?

K1 Fiance Visa K2 Child Dependent of a Fiance Visa K3 Spouse Visa K4 Child Dependent of a Spouse Visa Family Based Green Card F2A Visa for Spouse and Children of US Green Card holders F2B Visa for Unmarried Adult Children F3 Visa for Married Children of US Citizens F4 Visa for Siblings of US Citizens Green Card for immediate relatives of a U.S. citizen IR1/CR1 Visa: Marriage Green Card IR2 Visa: Children Green Card I55 Visa: Green Card for Parents