Individuals who are closely related to a permanent US resident or a citizen of the country may get family based visas. There isn’t a limit on how many immediate relatives, such as children, spouses, or parents, a US citizen may apply for. However, the US Department of State does have an annual numerical quota for other relatives.
Once someone gets approval for a family-based visa, they may work and live in the US permanently. For foreign relatives living outside the US, the process of consular processing must take place. It means they will have to visit the US consulate to complete the processing.
If the foreign relative is already present in the country, they may apply for adjustment of status and become a permanent resident legally. They will need to submit Form I-485 and other documentation.
Two Categories of Family Based Visas
A petitioner and their beneficiary may apply for one of two types of Family Immigration Visa. We explain the Immediate Relative and Family Preference visas below.
Immediate Relative Immigrant Visa
The first of the two Family Visa Categories, it mandates that the petitioner be a close relative of a US citizen. There is no limit per fiscal year for the immediate relative visa type. You may be eligible for one, if you have any of the following relationships with a US citizen:
- Minor, unmarried offspring
- Adopted orphan (abroad)
- Adopted orphan (within the US)
- Parent (the citizen must be 21 or above in this case)
Family Preference Immigrant Visa
People who are related in a specific way to a permanent resident of a US citizen are eligible for this one. For it to work, the petitioner can be related to the resident in any of the following ways:
- A limit of 23,400 cases of F1 or First Preference exists for unmarried offspring
- The limit for F2 or Second Preference is 114,200. It applies to spouses and minor children
- F3 or Third Preference has a limit of 23,400 and applies to married offspring, their spouses, and minor children
- 65,000 F4 or Fourth Preference cases of siblings, their spouses, and kids (minors) are permissible
A grandparent, in-law, aunt, cousin, or uncle may not become a sponsor for their relatives interested in immigration.
Types of Family-Based Immigrant Visas
K-1 Fiancée Visa
When a US citizen wants to bring their overseas fiancé(e) to the US, they may do so. However, they will need to show proof that they have physically met each other before at least once. The beneficiary may start the process at the USCIS. But the completion will happen at the US Embassy where the fiancé(e) lives. On arrival, the couple will have a 90-day-long period to marry, or the fiancé(e) will be in violation of their nonimmigrant visa status. There are no options for regeneration or extension unless the fiancé(e) leaves the country first.
With a K-2 visa, someone who has a K-1 fiancé visa may bring over their children. Later, the kids can apply for an immigrant visa.
K-3 Spouse Visa
This visa is for the overseas spouse of a US citizen who may be interested in moving to the US. Later, they can apply for US Resident Alien status. The couple must have proof of marriage. USCIS processes the application for this petition initially while the US Embassy in the country of marriage completes it. In case, the couple got married in the US, the process will finish in the foreign national’s home country. Later, the spouse may apply for Resident Alien status.
A child from a marriage with the person with a K-3 visa holder may apply for a K-4 visa. Proof of marriage and that the child was born after it must be present. Alternatively, the couple must have adopted the child before the latter was 16. If it is a stepchild, they must be younger than 18 when the US citizen married their parent.
What Happens if the Family Visa Limit is reached?
When the number of applicants is higher than the visas available, a chronological order of filing of the applications takes precedence. Similarly, when the quota numbers are met, foreign relatives must wait for the next fiscal year, or their visa category opens up again.
File a Petition for Alien Relative
US Visa Family Application begins with the filing of the I-130 Petition for Alien Relative. The USCIS must approve their immigrant visa for that to happen. The sponsor will file the petition and provide proof of relationship with the applicant. After approval, the petition legally recognizes the relationship to the alien relative. The processing fee is $160.
Complete an Affidavit of Support
The USCIS-approved petition goes to the National Visa Center (NVC), and they assign it a case number. In the absence of an attorney, additional forms will be required! Pre-processing will begin when the NVC instructs that the applicant and petitioner pay the fees and submit immigrant visa documents. Among the documentation is the application form, civil documents, and Affidavit of Support.
The last one is a big duty to undertake for the sponsor since it legally holds them responsible for the actions of the petitioner. The onus ends only if the latter becomes a US citizen or completes 10 years’ worth of service.
The next step in the process of applying for Visa for Family Members requires the petitioner to schedule a medical appointment. The physician conducting the tests should be embassy-approved who will send the results either directly to the embassy. Or, they will give it to the petitioner in a sealed envelope to bring to their visa interview. The medical examination fee cost is $275.
Required Documents for the Family Based Visa
The petitioner must submit:
- Two 2×2 photographs
- Affidavit of Support
- Proof of passport
- Immigrant Visa
- Civil documents (such as marriage and birth certificates)
- Alien Registration Application
- Medical examination forms
After the NVC determines that everything is present and in order, they’ll schedule an interview appointment, and inform the petitioner via email or letter. The latter should bring to the interview the documents mentioned above, the original copies of all civil documents, and financial documents from their sponsors.
Be prepared to answer questions. For instance, if you have applied for a K-3 visa, you may be asked where you met your significant other, about your first date, when you decided to marry, how long the engagement period was, etc.
Contact Attorney Eric Price Today!
Regardless of which type of family visa you are applying for, there is a certain complication to the immigration process. Any misfiling or missing information can cost you time and waste money. That is where an attorney specializing in immigration, like Eric Price, comes in. His experience has helped many families stay together and ensured the success of their case. Eric can also assist with any unforeseen obstacles you may face. So, call today!