US Immigration News

Family-Based Immigrant Visas to the US

4 minute read
"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."
Written by My Visa Source Team
Published on:  Jun 17, 2021
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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. 

What Documents Are Required for a Family-Based Immigrant Visa?

The applicant must pay a certain fee for filing and processing the form and for completing required vaccinations and taking medical tests. Family-based immigrant visas usually require the following documents:

  • An Affidavit of support signed by the US petitioner or sponsor 
  • DS-260, Immigrant Visa Electronic Application
  • A valid passport
  • Photographs of the applicant in a standardized size
  • Civil documents such as birth certificates, marriage certificate, police clearance, military or prison records, etc in their original as well as certified copies or translations if required
  • Completed report after a medical examination duly signed by the authorized medical personnel

What Happens At the Medical Examination?

The USCIS authorizes a panel of physicians to conduct the medical examination for visa applicants. A medical examination conducted for immigration purposes will consist of the following:

  • Physical examination of ears, eyes, throat, nose, lymph nodes, extremities, lungs, skin, heart, abdomen and external genitalia
  • Chest X-ray
  • Blood works
  • Medical history of the applicant

The test results of the medical examination are valid for a year. This test result will be either sent directly to the NVC officials or can be submitted by you on the date of your interview appointment.

What Happens At the Immigration Interview?

The interview is conducted by a consular officer. The NVC will send you the scheduled date and time for the interview as well as the guidelines on how to prepare for it. You must remember to carry all the required documents and prepare to submit biometric information if required. In the case where you miss your interview appointment due to an emergency, you must immediately contact the US consulate or embassy to arrange for another date.

The consulate office may request additional documentation during the interview process. After the interview, the applicant and the petitioner will be notified by mail if their application is approved or rejected. Your application for a family-based immigrant visa could be rejected based on:

  • Fraudulent documents
  • Criminal Inadmissibility
  • Previous overstay of another visa, etc

Once your visa is granted, this does not mean that you will automatically be allowed to enter the US. You must enter the country at the Port of Entry and present yourself to the immigration examiners and border security. If all your documents are in line with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Customs and Border Protection (CBP), then you will be allowed entry to the US.  

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