Obtaining a Family-Based Immigrant Visa

Immigrant visas are available to individuals hoping to come to the United States to work, to be near relatives, or just in search of a better life. For those seeking employment in the United States, many visas are available for work ranging from temporary business visits to international intra-company transfers. Alternatively, American citizens may wish to bring family members to the United States under a family-based visa.

Under the Immigration and Nationality Act, two categories of family-based immigrant visas are available:

Immediate Relative Visa

Immediate Relative Visas are unlimited and are provided for close relatives of United States citizens. Immediate relatives eligible for an Immediate Relative Visa include:

  • Spouses of U.S. citizens
  • Unmarried children of U.S. citizens under 21 years old
  • Children adopted abroad by U.S. citizens
  • Orphans to be adopted in the United States by U.S. citizens
  • Parents of a U.S. citizen who is at least 21 years old

Family Preference Immigrant Visa

Family Preference Immigrant Visas are limited annually by preference category. Under this type of visa, U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents may act as visa sponsors for a broader range of relatives. The family preference categories extend some visa eligibility to children of U.S. citizens who are over 21 years of age (married and unmarried) and their minor children, as well as siblings of U.S. citizens. An individual cannot attain a family-based visa through a grandparent, aunt, uncle, cousin, or in-law sponsor.

To apply for an immigrant visa for a family member, a U.S. citizen or Lawful Permanent Resident must file a petition with the Department of Homeland Security. If you would like to learn more about sponsoring a family member, contact an experienced attorney who can guide you through the application process.

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