Family-Based Immigration
Family Based Immigration: Bringing Relatives to the USA

Families yearn to be together, share experiences, and create lasting memories, regardless of where they are in the world. Family-based immigration is a crucial way for people to reunite with loved ones in the United States.

Fortunately, if you’re a U.S. citizen or a Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR), you can bring your family members to the U.S. through family sponsorship.

Even if you meet the requirement for sponsoring relatives to USA, the process can be challenging. You need to gather papers, fill out forms, and follow strict rules about timing. But working with an experienced family immigration attorney makes it simpler to bring your loved ones to the United States.

Are you petitioning for your fiancé? Review the K-1 Visa Category.

Family-Based Immigrant Visa Categories

There are two main categories of family immigrant visas:

Immediate Relatives:

These visas are for the closest relatives of U.S. citizens. This includes spouses, unmarried children under 21 years old, and parents. There is no limit on the number of visas available for this category, making it more accessible.

Family Preference:

This category has a restricted number of visas allocated annually for:

    • Includes extended family members of U.S. citizens, like married children, siblings, or cousins
    • It also covers spouses and unmarried children under 21 of Legal Permanent Residents (Green Card holders).

Green Card for Family Preference Immigrants

U.S. citizens and Green Card holders can help certain family members immigrate to the U.S. However, unlike immediate relatives of U.S. citizens who can come without limits, the family preference category has a yearly limit on visas. There are four categories within this limit.

  1. First Preference F1 – Unmarried adult children (21 years and older) of U.S. citizens.
  2. Second Preference F2A – Spouses and unmarried children (under 21) of Green Card holders.
  3. Second Preference F2B – Unmarried adult children (21 years and older) of Green Card holders.
  4. Third Preference F3 – Married adult children of U.S. citizens.
  5. Fourth Preference F4 – Siblings of U.S. citizens (if the U.S. citizen is 21 years or older).

Family Based Green Card Requisites: Petition for Alien Relative

To sponsor a family member you need to submit Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

Family Petition US Requirements

In your application, you must:

  • Include convincing evidence of your family relationship.
  • You’ll need to demonstrate your ability to financially support your relatives, ensuring they won’t require U.S. welfare.
  • USCIS will also review your family members for any criminal records or prior immigration violations.

The process varies based on whether your family member is currently in the U.S. or abroad:

If your family member is in the U.S

  • File Form I-130 (Petition for Alien Relative) to establish the familial relationship.
  • Once the I-130 is granted, your family member can apply for Green Card status by completing and submitting Form I-485 (Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status).
  • Attend a biometrics appointment and later an interview at a USCIS office.
  • If approved, the family member will receive a Green Card and become a Lawful Permanent Resident.


If your family member is outside the U.S

  • File Form I-130 (Petition for Alien Relative) to establish the familial relationship.
  • Once the I-130 is approved, it is sent to the National Visa Center (NVC), which will coordinate further steps.
  • Pay the necessary fees and submit the required documents to the NVC.
  • Attend an interview at the U.S. embassy or consulate in the family member’s home country.
  • If approved, the family member will receive an immigrant visa, allowing them to enter the U.S. as a Lawful Permanent Resident.
  • Upon arrival in the U.S, they will receive their Green Card.

Adjustment of Status

The Adjustment of Status (AOS) allows some visa holders and parolees to get a green card without leaving the country. Immediate relatives of U.S. citizens, like spouses, parents, and unmarried children under 21, can usually apply for AOS without waiting for visa numbers.

To submit an adjustment of status application, aspiring immigrants must meet three essential eligibility criteria:

  1. They must be physically present within the United States.
  2. They should have entered the U.S. legally.
  3. An immigrant visa must be readily accessible to them.

It’s crucial for the prospective immigrant to keep meeting the requirements during the application process. Any changes in their situation can affect the application.

Whether family preference or immediate relative petitions, teaming up with our family immigration lawyer will help you prevent errors. We offer expert guidance, making your immigration journey less stressful and more likely to succeed.

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