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Family-Based Visas: What You Need to Know

Family-based visas are given to individuals that have a close relationship with a U.S. citizen or permanent resident. Some visas are also limited to a total of 480,000 sponsored immigrants annually, with families needing to wait until the next year if that number is reached. When available, these visas provide several types of eligible individuals the opportunity to gain entry into the United States.

Types of Family-Based Visas

There are two main types of family-based visas:

  • Immediate Relative Visas - reserved for close family relationships with a U.S. citizen such as a parent, child, or spouse. These visas are also not limited to a certain number each year.
  • Family Preference Visas - for specific, more distant, family relationships with a U.S. citizen and certain specified relationships with Lawful Permanent Residents (LPR). These visas are available in limited numbers each year.

Who Is Eligible?

In order to qualify for a visa, a foreign citizen must be sponsored by an immediate relative who is at least 21 years of age and is either a United States citizen Lawful Permanent Resident.

U.S. citizens can file an immigrant visa petition for their:

  • Spouse
  • Child
  • Parent
  • Sibling

U.S. Lawful Permanent Residents are only able to file a petition for their spouse or unmarried child.

Other family members outside the aforementioned categories that are eligible to apply for a Green Card are placed in “preference immigrant” categories.

  • First preference (F1) - unmarried children (age 21 or older) of U.S. citizens
  • Second preference (F2A) - spouses and children (unmarried and under 21 years of age) of LPRs
  • Second preference (F2B) - unmarried children (age 21 or older) of LPR
  • Third preference (F3) - married children of U.S. citizens
  • Fourth preference (F4) - siblings of U.S. citizens (age 21 or older)

Case Options

Family-sponsored cases usually begin by filing an Immigrant Relative Petition. Once the petition has been approved, there are two options for obtaining a visa:

  • Adjustment of Status: This gives family members already living in the United States the ability to apply for lawful permanent residency.
  • Consular Processing: This entails filing all immigrant paperwork through the US Consulate of an employee’s citizenship or country of current residence. An interview and appearance by the entire family at the Consulate are required.

Contact Our Houston Immigration Attorneys Today

We understand the stress and confusion that can come with gaining legal entry into the United States. We work tirelessly to help those in need find success through personalized and compassionate services.

If you are looking to gain a family-based visa, and don’t know where to start, do not hesitate to contact us today through our website or give us a call at (713) 568-1779!