Thousands of foreign nationals immigrate to the US every year. With a thriving job market, business and investment opportunities and higher quality of life, the US has increasingly become one of the most favorable destinations for immigrants who want to put down permanent roots. Family-based immigration is the most popular and common way for immigration to the US. One must take several steps to gain permanent residency in the US through family-based visa programs.
What Are the Family-Based Visa Programs Available in the US?
The US offers 2 categories of family-based visa programs:
Immediate Relative Immigrant Visa:
This visa category, Immediate Relative Immigrant Visa is for immediate family members of US citizens. The following visa programs are available under this category:
IR-1 Visa: Spouse of a US citizen
IR-2 Visa: Unmarried child under 21 years of age of a US citizen
IR-3 Visa: Orphan adopted overseas by a US citizen
IR-4 Visa: Orphan to be adopted in the US by a US citizen
IR-5 Visa: Parent of a US citizen who is at least 21 years old
Family Preference Immigrant Visa:
This visa category, Family Preference Immigrant Visa is for distant relatives of US citizens and close relatives of lawful permanent residents. The following visa programs are available under this category:
F1 Visa: Unmarried sons and daughters of US citizens, and their minor children, if any.
F2 Visa: Spouses, minor children, and unmarried sons and daughters (age 21 and over) of Lawful Permanent Residents.
F3 Visa: Married sons and daughters of U.S. citizens, and their spouses and minor children.
F4 Visa: 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.
What Is the Process Of Applying for a Family-Based Immigrant Visa?
The first step in applying for a family-based immigrant visa starts with the US citizen or lawful permanent resident. The US citizen relative must file a petition to sponsor their relative by submitting Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative to the US Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) to start the process.
To be eligible for filing the petition, the US citizen or lawful permanent resident must be:
- At Least 21 years old
- Currently living in the US with a legal status
Once this petition is filed, the USCIS will approve it and forward it to the National Visa Center (NVC). The NVC will provide a case number to the petition and inform the applicant on what documents and forms must be submitted to complete the application. The NVC will also schedule an interview appointment with the visa application once the initial processing has been completed.