Under the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), there are two groups of family-based visa categories. One group includes immediate relatives of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents. The other group includes family preference categories for those related to a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident that are not necessarily considered to be immediate relatives. In order to apply for a family preference visa, the applicant must have the necessary relationship to the U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident as stated by the preference category. Family preference visas are referred to as F visas and we will discuss them here.
What Are Family-Based Immigrant Visas?
To apply for a visa based on being an immediate relative of a U.S citizen, you must be a spouse, minor child, or a parent of a U.S. citizen. There is a specific path available for those qualifying individuals. If you are not an immediate relative, you may still have the option of applying for an F immigrant visa. The categories of family preference immigrants include:
- First preference (F1): unmarried sons and daughters of U.S. citizens that are 21 years of age or older.
- Second preference (F2A): spouses and children, that are unmarried and younger than 21 years of age, of lawful permanent residents.
- Second preference (F2B): unmarried sons and daughters, that are unmarried and younger than 21 years of age, of lawful permanent residents.
- Third preference (F3): unmarried sons and daughters of U.S. citizens.
- Fourth preference (F4): brothers and sisters of U.S. citizens that are 21 years of age or older.
In addition to meeting the qualifications listed in the above preference categories, all those looking to be granted a visa as a family preference immigrant must meet other requirements. For instance, Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status, must be filed. The applicant must have been inspected and admitted into the U.S. and be physically present in the U.S. at the time that the Form I-485 is filed.
An applicant must also be eligible to receive an immigrant visa and the familial relationship which forms the basis of the application must still be in existence at the time a final decision is rendered on the application. The applicant must also be found worthy of favorable USCIS discretion in order to be approved. This means that factors in favor of approval outweigh any+ negative factors.
There is an annual quota for family preference visa categories which means there may be wait times depending on the number of applicants and approved applicants in a given time frame.
Immigration Law Attorneys
If you should have any questions or need more information about the ways in which the U.S. Immigration and Nationality Laws may impact you, your family, your friends or your colleagues, please contact the U.S. Immigration and Nationality Lawyers at the NPZ Law Group – VISASERVE – U.S. Immigration and Nationality Lawyers by e-mailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling us at 201-670-0006 (x104). You can also visit our Law Firm’s website at www.visaserve.com.