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USA family visa categories

If you are related to a United States Citizen or lawful permanent resident then you could be eligible for a family-based immigrant or non-immigrant visa to enter the USA.

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US Family Visas

Individuals who are related to a U.S citizen or lawful permanent residents in the United States may be able to join them in the country by using one of the U.S family visa categories. There are both immigrant and non-immigrant U.S family visas available. To be eligible for an immigrant visa a lawful permanent resident (LPR) of the US must petition for you to join them. The immigrant visas are divided into two groups, those for “immediate relatives” of a U.S citizen and “preference” cases.

Immediate relatives include a spouse, parent, or unmarried children under 21 years of age and there is no limit on how many immediate relative immigrant visas can be granted each year. Relatives that could be eligible for family preference visas include siblings, the unmarried adult son or daughter of a US citizen, the spouse of a legal permanent resident, unmarried children of permanent residents, and married sons and daughters of US citizens. Family preference cases are, however, subject to a quota each year.

An immigrant visa, also referred to as a Green Card will allow you to become a lawful permanent resident of the United States, however, the application process often takes a long time. Another family-based immigration option is non-immigrant visas that grant you temporary entry to the U.S, after which you can continue your immigration journey within the country if you wish to become a permanent resident.

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US 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.

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.

US Family Preference Categories for 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 Immigrant Visa.

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

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

To apply for a Family-based Green Card, you need to file Form I-130 and Form I-148 to register for permanent residence. The number of immigrant permits available for an immediate relative of a U.S citizen is not limited to each fiscal year, however, family preference categories are subject to a cap.

US Visas for Spouses and Fiancé's of a U.S citizen

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 to begin the sponsorship process.

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 a family-based 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’s 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.

US Family Visas for sons and daughters of U.S citizens

The unmarried children of U.S citizens or permanent residents can be eligible for a U.S family visa. The type of sponsorship that they are eligible for depends on their age.

Unmarried children under the age of 21 are classed as immediate relatives, this means that they are eligible for a family-based green card. Stepchildren can also be classed as immediate relatives if the marriage took place before they turned 18.

If you have unmarried children over the age of 21, they can still be eligible to join you in the U.S under the family first preference category, otherwise known as the F2B Visa. It’s worth noting that if your child marries before your petition for the F2B Visa is accepted, they will no longer be eligible.

It is also more difficult to secure a visa for a child over the age of 21 as the US government usually enforces a cap of around 114,200 per year for the F2 Visa category, with only around 30% going to F2B applicants.

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How can IAS help?

Our immigration attorneys are trained in all areas of U.S immigration law and are experts when it comes to family-based immigration options. The U.S family visa categories can be complex to understand and apply for, but our attorneys are here for you.

Our immigration experts can speak with you about your situation and assess whether you are eligible to apply for any of the family visas, including family green cards for immediate relatives, immigrant visas in a preference category, or non-immigrant visas. They can also answer any questions you may have in relation to any of the family-based US immigration routes.

Once you have decided which type of visa you would like to apply for, our attorneys can assist you throughout the application process. If you require a U.S citizen to sponsor your application, they can help them to complete the petition form and ensure that all the correct information has been included. Our attorneys can also help you to gather supporting evidence to prove that you are able to meet the visa requirements.

For more information about the family-based immigrant visas, or to get started on your application today, get in touch with our team on +1844 290 6312.

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Frequently Asked Questions

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 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.

Yes, the unmarried sons and daughters of U.S citizens who are at least 21 years of age can be eligible for an F2B Visa. This is a green card that falls into the family-based preference category.

To be able to sponsor your unmarried adult children you must be a green card holder and currently be resident in the U.S. To apply the sponsor must complete a visa petition for their child and send it to the USCIS. Once this has been accepted, the child begins the visa application process in their home country through the U.S. embassy or consulate.

The US family visas range from immigrant visas for those who wish to become lawful permanent residents of the United States to temporary family visas that grant you entry to the U.S, after which you can continue your immigration journey. The U.S family visas include:

The requirements differ for each visa but to be eligible you must be the family member of either a U.S citizen or lawful permanent resident in the United States.