Family Immigration Visas for The US
There are several visa options for families looking to immigrate to the US. However, it is important to note that there is a limit on the number of family visas that can be issued per year. Cases are handled by the department of state and USCIS (U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services) assist in determining which applications are eligible for family visas.
This article aims to help readers understand the family immigration visa process and to guide them further on how you can help a foreign family member get residency within the US. Once your family member obtains a PR, they are free to work and live in the United States permanently.
One of the main conditions for obtaining a family immigration visa is sponsorship by an immediate relative. The relative must be a lawful permanent resident and should be at least 21 years old.
You can get in touch with Immigration solicitors U.S. to learn more about the requirements for your visa application.
Types of Family Visas
There are primarily two types of family visas:
- Family Preference: This visa type is for sponsorship by distant family members that are
U.S. citizens. The number of visas issued for this type of family visa is limited as the family members are distant.
- Immediate Family Members: These types of visas are for parents, spouses or The best part about this visa type is that it does not have a yearly limit.
Lawful residents with PR can only sponsor their spouse and unmarried son/daughter. U.S. Citizens can sponsor their siblings, children, parents, and spouse.
The process of family immigration involves two parties, the applicant and the sponsor. The sponsor has to meet the criteria defined by USCIS. This includes being a lawful resident and meeting certain financial requirements. There could also be cases where the applicant would like to bring their spouse and children, where the benefits would also extend to their dependents.
Only parents, spouses, and unmarried children (under 21 years old) are classified as ‘immediate’ family. For immediate family, there is no cap on the number of immigrant visas. All other qualifying relationships are categorized as family preference categories.
As mentioned previously, the number of family preference visas is limited per year. Since there is a large influx of such applications, there is a huge backlog for this visa category.
The process starts with a formal request from the lawful resident/U.S. citizen to USCIS to permit the family member to immigrate. The form usually used for this process is Form I-130, more commonly known as the Alien Relative Petition. The form is recognized as proof of a family relationship that meets the requirements set out in the family preference/immediate relative categories.
Once the I-130 application is approved, a visa number is allotted and the family member can then proceed toward applying for a green card.
The categories for the green cards include:
- Adjustment of Status: This category is chosen by individuals that are already present within the U.S. as temporary visitors such as student visas, tourist visas, and more. The applicants would then be able to apply to ‘adjust’ their visa status to permanent residence, e., become green card holders.
- Consular Processing: This is the most common category in which immigrants choose to get their green cards. Applicants visit a consular office or U.S. embassy in their country to start processing their application.
Backlogs and Processing Times
Since there is always a rising demand for family preference visas, there are large processing times as applicants are put on a waiting list. This is due to the fact that the visas are limited and there is a large influx of applicants.
These applications are sorted on the basis of their date of submission, commonly called ‘priority date’. Individuals with properly filed I-130 petitions are sorted according to how soon they submitted the application.
USCIS does move down the list, so there is always a chance of applicants getting their visas the next year. However, this limitation is only for family preference visas. For immediate relatives, there is no cap on the number of issued visas and applicants can apply any time they’d like.
There is a monthly visa list that is published by the U.S. Department of State. Family Preference visa applicants can view their position monthly to see if they’ve reached the top of the list. There is no telling how long it would take for a family preference visa to come through, applicants get their visa as soon as they reach the top of the list.