Family-based Immigrant Visa
Family-based visa petitions are the most common method used to obtain eventual legal permanent residency. Petitions for legal permanent residency are made jointly with applications for immigrant visas or after visas are issued.
A United States citizen, either by birth or naturalization, may petition for a spouse, child, sons or daughters, parents or siblings. A lawful permanent resident, i.e. a person holding a “green card” may petition for a spouse, child, and for unmarried sons or daughters. Waiting periods vary according to the type of relationship, the country of origin, and also the place of processing.
There are two groups of family based immigrant visa categories: immediate relatives and family preference categories.
Immediate Relative Immigrant Visas:
These visa types are based on a close family relationship with a United States (U.S.) citizen described as an Immediate Relative. The number of immigrants in these categories is not limited each fiscal year. Immediate relative visa types include:
1. Spouse of a U.S. Citizen.
2. Unmarried Child Under 21 Years of Age of a U.S. Citizen, Orphan adopted abroad by a U.S. Citizen.
3. Orphan to be adopted in the U.S. by a U.S. citizen.
4. Parent of a U.S. Citizen who is at least 21 years old.
Family Preference Immigrant Visas:
These visa types are for specific, more distant, family relationships with a U.S. citizen and some specified relationships with a Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR). There are fiscal year numerical limitations on family preference immigrants, shown at the end of each category. The family preference categories are:
- 1. Unmarried sons and daughters of U.S. citizens, and their minor children, if any.
- 2. Spouses, minor children, and unmarried sons and daughters (age 21 and over) of LPRs.
- 3. Married sons and daughters of U.S. citizens, and their spouses and minor children.
- 4. Brothers and sisters of U.S. citizens, and their spouses and minor children, provided the U.S. citizens are at least 21 years of age.
Numerical Limitations for Limited Family-based Preference Categories:
Whenever the number of qualified applicants for a category exceeds the available immigrant visas, there will be an immigration wait. In this situation, the available immigrant visas will be issued in the chronological order in which the petitions were filed using their priority date.
Returning Resident Immigrant Visas:
A lawful permanent resident (LPR) who has remained outside the U.S. for longer than twelve months, or beyond the validity period of a re-entry permit, will require a new immigrant visa to enter the U.S. and resume permanent residence.
Fiance Visa (K-1)
K-1 visas permit U.S. citizens to bring their foreign fiancés into the United States in order to marry.
Under a K-1 visa, your foreign fiancé is allowed to reside and work in the United States. Once your fiancé enters the U.S., you and your fiancé have 90 days to marry and apply for permanent residency. In order to obtain a K-1 visa, certain requirements must be met.
Visas are available for your fiancé’s children who are under the age of 21 and not married.
If you need to obtain a K-1 or marriage visa, it is extremely wise to hire an experienced immigration attorney to help you with your petition. One mistake or omission on your petition can cause a delay or denial of your fiancé or spouse’s visa.
Marriage Visa (K-3)
Marriage Visas permit the spouses of U.S. citizens to lawfully enter and reside in the United States. Historically, many of these visas processed were K-3 visas which allowed the immigrant spouse to enter the Unites States in order to complete the immigration process. However, currently are processed as either CR-1 (Conditional Resident) or IR-1 (Immediate Relative) Visa. The sole difference between these visas is the amount of time you have been married. If you have been married for two years or more at the time the visa is issued then you will receive an IR-1 visa. However, if you have been married for less than two years at the time of issuance then a CR-1 Visa will be provided.
During family petition or immigrant visa process is very convenient to obtain the assistance of a lawyer dedicated to the immigration area, who has the expertise you need. These processes require you to provide the evidence necessary to show that you meet all the requirements established by law. An error or omission in the petition or in the presentation of such evidence may cause delays or denial of it.