Family-based Visas contribute a substantial portion of the United States’ annual applications. Most of these come from the Immediate Relative Category, while the remaining belong to the Family Preference. These are the two types of family based immigration. Navigating this process can prove challenging and lengthy, especially for those under Family Preference Visas. It illustrates the delicate balance between encouraging family unity and managing broader immigration policy. So, how can you seek to live permanently in the United States through family based immigrant Visas?
An Overview Of Family-Based VisasFamily-based immigrant Visas offer a legal route for foreign nationals to live permanently in the United States. Applicants must have a close family member, including a U.S. citizen or a lawful permanent resident to qualify. In this context, the phrase close family refers to spouses, parents, siblings, and children. The two categories are Immediate Relatives (IR) and Family Preference (F). The former is not subject to annual Visa limits while the latter has yearly caps and caters to more distant relatives. These two types have sub-categories, so you must consult an immigration lawyer to guide you in determining the eligibility of your family members.
Immediate Relative CategoriesThe Immediate Relative covers close family members of U.S. citizens, including spouses, unmarried children under 21 years of age, and parents. Immediate relatives are not subject to numerical Visa quotas, expediting their immigration process.
- IR-1: Spouse of a U.S. citizen.
- IR-2: Unmarried children under 21 of a U.S. citizen.
- IR-3: Orphans adopted abroad by U.S. citizens.
- IR-4: Orphans to be adopted by U.S. citizens in the country.
- IR-5: Parents of U.S. citizens who are at least 21 years old.
Family Preference CategoriesUnderstanding the family preference determines the priority and eligibility of family members seeking immigration. It ensures the fair allocation of Visas and maintains the integrity of Green Card applications. The Family Preference has four subcategories:
- F-1 Family First Preference: Unmarried sons and daughters of U.S. citizens and their minor children.
- F-2 Family Second Preference: Spouses, minor children, and unmarried sons and daughters (21 years and older) of lawful permanent residents.
- F-3 Family Third Preference: Married sons and daughters of U.S. citizens, their spouses, and minor children.
- F4 Family Fourth Preference: Brothers and sisters of U.S. citizens, their spouses, and minor children, given that the U.S. citizens are at least 21 years old.