Immigration Visas – Family Based

A Guide to Family Preference Immigration Visas

If you have immigrated to the United States and have a family, it might be possible for members of your family to immigrate to the U.S. with you. It will be especially easy for immediate family members to enter the U.S. Immediate relatives of immigrants are given preference under the Immigration and Nationality Act. However, there are criteria that you must meet to qualify. You're almost guaranteed a visa if you fall into one of the following categories:

  • A spouse of a United States citizen
  • Be an unmarried child of a parent who is a United States citizen and under 21 years old
  • An orphan who has been adopted by a United States citizen
  • An orphan who will be adopted by a United States citizen
  • A parent of a United States citizen

While it's not a guarantee, immigrant visas are also available if you fall into one of these categories:

  • Unmarried children or sons and daughters of lawful permanent residents;
  • Single as well as married sons and daughters of United States citizens, along with their spouses and minor children; as well as the
  • Siblings of United States citizens and their respective immediate families.

If you fall into one of these categories, retaining an experienced immigration attorney can increase your chances of getting into the country. However, it's important to note that not all can be sponsored for immigration purposes. These are some examples of relatives that aren't able to sponsor a family member:

  • Grandparents
  • Aunts
  • Uncles
  • Cousins
  • In-laws

How Do You Get A Family Based Immigration Visa?

A petition must be filed to get a family-based immigrant visa. The person filing the petition must be a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident (LPR), and they generally have to reside in the U.S. However, there are exceptions to the U.S. residency requirement. However, there are circumstances where you may be able to get a family-based immigrant visa if your sponsor is U.S. citizen who is residing in another country. 

What If Your Sponsor Used to Be A Lawful Permanent Resident But Is Now A U.S. Citizen?

If your petitioner was a lawful permanent resident but has since become a U.S. citizen, your immigrant visa category will change.  If you are facing such a transition, you need to be informed of how this change will impact your immigration process. An experienced immigration attorney is an integral part of navigating this journey.

What fees are involved in the immigrant visa process?

There are fees that you'll have to pay to get a visa. The following organizations charge fees during the process:

  • Filing of immigrant petitions for alien relatives
  • Processing fees for the application
  • Required medical exams and vaccinations
  • Costs associated with translation services, fees for necessary documents, and possible travel expenses if the beneficiary is required to go abroad for an interview.

What Documentation Is Required?

You will have to present the following documents to apply for a visa:

  • Affidavit of support
  • Passport
  • Photographs (must bring two photographs that are at least 2"x2")
  • Results of a medical exam
  • Civil documents

Is There an Interview?

Applicants for an immigration visa are always interviewed. Always ensure that you have all required documentation for the interview. An immigration attorney can prepare you for the interview. 

How Long Does the Application Process Take?

The application process for family preference visas usually takes longer than other visa applications, but the specific length of time varies for each applicant. An immigration attorney can guide you through every step in the process.

What Can Disqualify You from A Family Preference Visa?

Several things can disqualify you from a family preference visa:

  • A drug conviction
  • Having overstayed a prior visa or entering the United States unlawfully and accumulating unlawful presence
  • The submission of fake documents, among many other reasons

Furthermore, it's important to meet all requirements for the Port of Entry where you will be entering the US.