Family Based Immigration

Family Based Immigration


According to federal law, citizens and legal permanent residents can sponsor their relatives, or ask on behalf of them, for immigrant visas or “green cards”. Sponsorship based on certain relationships is not affected by the limitations on the amount of visas that are issued each year under other categories, but the more remote is the family link, the fewer visas will be available annually. Below, we present more information about family based immigration and the process of submission of applications.

Who Can File an Application and Who Can be Sponsored?

For the United States immigration officers not all relationships are equal. Some relationships have more priority than others, and some directly are not a basis for filing an application.

If you are a citizen of the United States, you can file a petition on behalf of the following family members:

  • your spouse or child under 21 years of age;
  • your father/mother (if you are at least 21 years of age);
  • your son is not married over 21 years and their children;
  • your son is not married of any age and their children;
  • his brothers and their spouses and children (if you have at least 21 years of age).

If you are a permanent resident of the United States, you can file a petition on behalf of the following family members:

  • your spouse or child under 21 years of age;
  • your son/not married/21 years of age.

Priority for Family members and Applicants

The priority for family members identified above is lower the further down they appear in the list; in addition, requests on the part of the citizens of the united States receive higher priority than those of permanent residents.

Temporary Visas for a Fiance

Temporary visas for a fiance (e) are available for foreign nationals who wish to marry a US citizen. Under this type of visa, the foreign citizen must apply for the visa and receive permission to travel to the United States to marry. Once you are married, the foreign citizen must apply for permanent residence separate from the initial visa application.

Family Based Immigration Process

The immediate family members (spouses and children under 21 years of age) have a shorter waiting period. Law provides a greater amount of choices for this category and a period of review of the applications is faster. Other relatives are subject to waiting periods because there only exist a fixed number of visas for these categories by year, and there are always more applications than visas. When the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (formerly known as the Immigration and Naturalization Service, or INS) approves an application for a family based visa, a United States consular officer will issue the visa and the family will be able to enter the country.

In some cases, such as when a certificate of birth has been lost or destroyed, the United States government should be offered a genetic test to confirm family relationships. Refer to the “Procedures of DNA testing” the United States Department of State for more information.

If you want to get legal help with the process of family based immigration, contact a lawyer who specializes in immigration.

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