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Family-Based Visas 101

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Family-based visas are many immigrants’ first step on their path to full United States citizenship. Current U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents (LPRs) may sponsor certain relatives to receive a green card or a family-based visa based on their family relationship.

Learn more about family-based immigration and how to sponsor a relative who lives abroad for a green card or a family-based visa.

Understanding Family-Based Visas

U.S. immigration law allows current U.S. citizens and LPRs to sponsor a relative who lives abroad for a green card or immigrant visa; holders of temporary immigrant visas may not sponsor relatives for family-based visas.

The law separates the types of visas for these relatives into two distinct groups, including “Immediate Relative” visas and “Family Preference Immigrant” visas. Immediate Relative visas are unlimited, which means there is no limit on the number of immigrants who may enter the U.S. with this type of visa per year. Family Preference Immigrant visas, on the other hand, are limited and capped at a certain number each year.

Those eligible for an Immediate Relative visa include the following:

  • The spouse of a U.S. citizen

  • The parent of an adult U.S. citizen

  • The unmarried children of a U.S. citizen

  • An orphan who was adopted abroad by a U.S. citizen

  • An orphan whose adoption by a U.S. citizen is pending

Those eligible for a Family Preference Immigrant visa include the following:

  • Family First Preference (F1): Unmarried sons and daughters of U.S. citizens, and their minor children if applicable

  • Family Second Preference (F2): Spouses, minor children, and adult unmarried sons and daughters of legal permanent residents

  • 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 adult U.S. citizens, and their spouses and minor children

How to Apply for a Family-Based Visa

In order to petition a relative who lives abroad for a family-based visa, begin by filing Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative. This form establishes the family relationship between you and the person you’re petitioning.

After you file this form, you may expect the following steps:

  • If your relative is already in the U.S., they may apply to adjust status to become a green card holder after a visa number becomes available using Form I-485.

  • If your relative is outside the U.S., your petition will be sent to the National Visa Center (NVC), which will forward your petition to the appropriate U.S. consulate when a visa becomes available.

Your family member’s preference category will determine how long they will wait for an immigrant visa.

Seeking a Family-Based Visa? Contact Us Today

If you’re seeking a family-based visa for a family member who lives abroad, our immigration attorneys at Akula & Associates are here to help. We provide compassionate service for clients and we’re dedicated to achieving an optimal result for you and your loved ones.

Our team will explore all of your legal options and practical alternatives in an effort to save you time and money throughout the immigration process.

Contact Akula & Associates at (844) 299-5003 to learn how we can assist you.

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