Under the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), there is a set limit on the number of family-based immigrant visas that are issued each year, for many types of family-based immigrant visas. The U.S. Department of State (DOS) is responsible for allocating a limited number of family-based immigrant visas. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) plays an important role in determining who is eligible to receive these visas.
To begin the process of obtaining a family-based immigrant visa, in most cases, a U.S. Citizen or Lawful Permanent Resident will complete Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative. This Petition not only establishes a relationship making a person eligible for a family-based visa but also acts as a request for a visa number. There are several types of family-based visa options available and they are ranked by priority based on the relationship between the relative Petitioner and the foreign Beneficiary, the individual seeking to obtain a U.S. visa.
Types of Family-Based Immigrant Visas
There are two main categories of family-based immigrants, immediate relative and family preference. An immediate relative is a spouse, parent, or unmarried child of a U.S. citizen. There is no limit on the number of immigrant visas issued each year for immediate relatives. An immediate relative is given special immigration priority. People falling into this category circumvent the need to wait in line for a visa number to become available to them. This is because there is no limit to the number of visas available to immediate relatives. The immediate relative category of visa, however, is limited to only a few close relatives. The visas available in the immediate relative category include:
- IR1: Spouse of a U.S. Citizen
- IR2: Unmarried child (under 21 years of age) of a U.S. Citizen
- IR3: Orphan adopted abroad by a U.S. Citizen
- IR4: Orphan to be adopted in the U.S. by a U.S. Citizen
- IR5: Parent of a U.S. Citizen (who is at least 21 years old)
There is a limit on the number of family preference immigrant visas issued each year. U.S. immigration law has a numerical cap on the number of visas granted based on family preference every year. Because of this, there is a long waitlist for many people falling into the family preference categories. The family preference category includes other relatives who are eligible to receive a limited number of available visas. The family preference visa category includes:
- F1: Unmarried, adult sons and daughters (age 21 or over) of U.S. Citizens
- F2A: Spouses and unmarried children (under age 21) of permanent residents
- F2B: Unmarried adult sons and daughters of permanent residents
- F3: Married sons and daughters (any age, of U.S. citizens)
- F4: Brothers and sisters of adult Citizens
Additionally, foreign fiancés are eligible to come to the U.S. for the purpose of getting married to a U.S. Citizen. The U.S. Citizen must begin this process by filing Form I-129F, Petition for Alien Fiancé. If the application is approved, the foreign fiancé receives a non-immigrant fiancé visa, which is a K-1 visa.
Family-Based Immigration 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 emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling us at 201-670-0006 (x107). You can also visit our law firm’s website at www.visaserve.com.