Family Based Visas

A Foreign National who has a close relative (spouse, parent, sibling) who is also either a United States Citizen or Legal Permanent Resident may seek to immigrate to the U.S. and obtain U.S. legal permanent residence and eventually possibly attain U.S. citizenship. Generally, for a Family Based Immigrant Visa the U.S. Citizen or Legal Permanent Resident relative must be willing to act as a sponsor for the Foreign National who seeks to immigrate to the United States and must demonstrate that they could care for the immigrating Foreign National relative. The process requires submission of a petition to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”).
Immediate relatives of U.S. Citizens are given priority over other visas categories. Immediate relatives include spouses, parents and children under 21 years of age. Family based immigrant visas are presently available to immediate relatives who can expect to obtain their legal permanent residence in6 months to one year. Spouse of U.S. Citizens will be granted conditional residence for a period of two years and must petition to remove the conditions on residence at the end of that period.

A Foreign National who has a close relative (spouse, parent, sibling) who is also either a United States Citizen or Legal Permanent Resident may seek to immigrate to the U.S. and obtain U.S. legal permanent residence and eventually possibly attain U.S. citizenship. Generally, for a Family Based Immigrant Visa the U.S. Citizen or Legal Permanent Resident relative must be willing to act as a sponsor for the Foreign National who seeks to immigrate to the United States and must demonstrate that they could care for the immigrating Foreign National relative. The process requires submission of a petition to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”).

Immediate relatives of U.S. Citizens are given priority over other visas categories. Immediate relatives include spouses, parents and children under 21 years of age. Family based immigrant visas are presently available to immediate relatives who can expect to obtain their legal permanent residence in6 months to one year. Spouse of U.S. Citizens will be granted conditional residence for a period of two years and must petition to remove the conditions on residence at the end of that period.

The following is a brief description of the four family based immigrant visa preference categories which are based upon the nature of the family relationship between the sponsoring U.S. Citizen/Legal Permanent Resident and the immigrating Foreign National. There are generally a total of 226,000 family based immigrant visas available each year in the four preference categories that are equally distributed to the nations of the world, however there is a backlog for a number of nations and relationship categories. A Foreign National’s relationship with the U.S. Citizen or Legal Permanent Resident will generally determine how long the Foreign National will have to wait to obtain their Family Based Immigrant Visa.

Generally, the closer the relationship the shorter the Foreign National will have to wait for the Visa. At present the four preference categories for family based immigrant visas are:

a) First Preference: The Unmarried Sons & Daughters (over 21 years of age) of a U.S. Citizen

b) Second Preference: Spouse, Children (under 21 years of age), and the Unmarried Sons and Daughters (over 21 years of age) of a U.S. Legal Permanent Resident

c) Third Preference: The Married Sons and Daughters of a U.S. Citizen

d) Fourth Preference: The Brothers and Sisters of a U.S. Citizen

For the latest priority dates for these preference categories, please check the Current Visa Bulletin from from The Department of State at: https://travel.state.gov/content/visas/en/law-and-policy/bulletin.html

 

FIANCÉ (K-1)

The fiancé visa is a hybrid visa that is similar to a marriage-based immigration application. A U.S. Citizen petitions for a fiancé living abroad. Upon entry to the United States, the K-1 fiancé must marry the U.S. Citizen within 90 days and file for adjustment of status to immigrant (legal permanent resident). The K-1 is a petition based visa.

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