Family Based Visas
There is nothing more important than family and the unification of families is one of the most important components of immigration. Unfortunately, the process of uniting family members from abroad with U.S. citizens and permanent residents can be cumbersome and confusing. Essentially, family based visas are grouped into two categories, dependent on the sponsor being a U.S. Citizen or Lawful Permanent Resident and the relationship to the sponsor.
- Immediate Relative Visas are based on close family relationships with United States citizens and there is no limit set on the amount that are available. Those that are eligible for these visas are spouses, unmarried children under 21 years, orphans adopted abroad, orphans to be adopted in the U.S., and parents of a U.S. citizen who is at least 21 years old.
- Family Preference Immigrant Visas are limited, for more distant family relationships with a U.S. citizen and some specified relationships with a Lawful Permanent Resident. Those that fall under this category are unmarried children of U.S. citizens and their minor children, married children of U.S. citizens along with their spouses and children, and siblings of U.S. citizens along with their spouses and minor children. If you are a Lawful Permanent Resident, the visa may be granted to spouses, minor children, and unmarried children over 21.
Due to limited visa availability, preference relatives often face long waiting periods, while immediate relatives do not face any waiting time.
The first step of sponsoring an individual is to file a petition with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. Upon approval, the National Visa Center will assign a case number. Depending on which visa your family member qualifies for, you will be required to complete various forms and submit necessary documents and fees. The final step is the visa interview, conducted by a consular officer who will determine if the applicant is eligible to receive an immigrant visa. An experienced lawyer can facilitate the process of obtaining a family based visa from the initial application, guiding you through the necessary steps and forms, preparing and providing representation for the interview, and more. If you or someone you know is looking to file a petition for a family based visa, contact our experienced immigration attorney, Brandon Smoot, to discuss the best possible course of action available to you and your family.