What is a family visa and what are the benefits of applying under this visa category?
Family based visas are immigrant visas reserved for certain qualified relatives of U.S. citizens and Green Card holders. They are classified into four categories:
- Green Card for an Immediate Relative of a U.S. Citizen
- Green Card for a Family Member of a U.S. Citizen
- Green Card for a Family Member of a Permanent Resident
- Green Card through Special Categories of Family
Immediate relatives of a U.S. citizen
- IR-1: Spouse
- IR-2: Unmarried Child Under 21 Years of Age
- IR-3: Orphan adopted abroad by a U.S. Citizen
- IR-4: Orphan to be adopted in the U.S. by a U.S. citizen
- IR-5: Parent of a U.S. Citizen who is at least 21 years old
Immediate relatives have special immigration priority and do not have to wait in line for a visa number to become available for them to immigrate because there are an unlimited number of visas for their particular categories.
Family member of a U.S. citizen
If the family member of the U.S. citizen is not an immediate relative, then the U.S. citizen may still be able to sponsor them via what is called a “family preference category.” Eligible relatives include:
- Family First Preference (F1) – Unmarried sons and daughters;
- Family First Preference (F3) – Married sons and daughters and their spouses and minor children; and
- Family First Preference (F4) – Brothers and sisters, and their spouses and minor children, provided the U.S. citizens are at least 21 years of age.
There is a limit to number of relatives who may emigrate from different countries under these categories each year so there is usually a waiting period before an immigrant visa number becomes available.
Family member of a Permanent Resident
A permanent resident may petition for his / her spouse and unmarried child (ren) of any age to immigrate to the United States. There is a limit to number of relatives who may emigrate from different countries under these categories each year so there is usually a waiting period before an immigrant visa number becomes available. If your family relationship qualifies you as an eligible relative of a U.S. permanent resident, then you are in what is called a “family second preference category (F2).”
- Family Second Preference (FB2A) – Spouses and unmarried children (Under 21 years of age) of Lawful Permanent Residents
- Family Second Preference (FB2B) – Unmarried sons and daughters of Lawful Permanent Residents
Special categories of family
You may be able to become a permanent resident (get a green card) through a special family situation. This adjustment of status programs are limited to individuals who meet particular qualifications and/or apply during certain time frames.
- Battered Spouse or Child (VAWA)
- K Nonimmigrant (includes fiancé(e))
- Person Born to a Foreign Diplomat in the United States
- V Nonimmigrant
- Widow(er) of a U.S. Citizen
How can an attorney help in this process?
Family based green card applications are little complex and two step process. When preparing forms, filing and compiling documentation for eligibility both from the petitioner’s side and beneficiary’s side, it is not an instinctive process. It’s essential to provide proper documents in a timely manner to avoid unnecessary delays. Even in cases where a petition includes the required documents, papers should be presented in a logical format so that the immigration officer reviewing the case will make a favorable decision. An immigration attorney with substantial experience in family based immigration can help avoid the many costly pitfalls and help you sail through the process easily.
To discuss if this is the right visa for you and if you can qualify under this category, please feel free to contact us by email or call us at 314-722-5247.