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The two types of family-based visas

On Behalf of | Jun 4, 2024 | Firm News

The family-based immigration process allows immigrants living in the United States to bring family members living abroad into the country to live and work. The person living in the United States is called the petitioner and the person that wants to come to the United States is called the beneficiary.

To qualify as a petitioner, you must be a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident and at least 21 years old. In certain situations, the beneficiary you want to sponsor can bring their spouse and children, who are called derivative beneficiaries.

Immediate relative or family preference visas

Family-based visas are either immediate relative visas or family preference visas. Family members eligible for an immediate relative visa include a spouse, parents and unmarried children under the age of 21. Family preference visas may be available for other family members.

If you are a U.S. citizen, you can file a family-based visa petition for your spouse, your child, your parent or your sibling. However, if you are a lawful permanent resident, you can file a petition only for a spouse or unmarried child.

There is a limited number of family-based visas available each year. The first step in the family-based immigration process is filing a form I-130, which is a petition for alien relative. There is generally a waiting time between filing the petition and learning if a visa number is available.

The approval of the petition and confirmed availability of a visa number then allow your beneficiary to apply for their green card. This can be done through consular processing or adjustment of status.

Consular processing and adjustment of status

Consular processing is done when the beneficiary resides outside of the United States and is completed at a U.S. embassy or consulate in their home country. Adjustment of status is done when the beneficiary resides in the United States with a nonimmigrant visitor status. They may adjust their status to a permanent resident.

The family-based immigration process is a valuable tool used for bringing families together who have been separated. Knowing the requirements and expectations is important to ensuring you and your family will eventually be back together.