Family-based Immigrant Visa

Family-based immigrant visa are a pathway for foreign nationals to obtain a green card based on family ties with a US citizen or permanent resident.

U.S. citizens and permanent residents can sponsor certain family members. The specific requirements, processing times, and documentation vary depending on the relationship between the sponsor and the intending immigrant. 

Here are some key points about family-based green cards:

1. Immediate Relatives: U.S. citizens can directly sponsor their immediate relatives for a green card. Immediate relatives include spouses of U.S. citizens, unmarried children under the age of 21, and parents of U.S. citizens who are at least 21 years old. There is no annual numerical limit for immediate relatives, meaning they are not subject to waiting periods or visa quotas.

2. Preference Categories: Certain family members who are not immediate relatives fall into preference categories, which have annual numerical limits for green card issuance. These preference categories include:

a. First Preference (F1): Unmarried adult children (over 21 years old) of U.S. citizens.
b. Second Preference (F2):
- F2A: Spouses and unmarried children (under 21 years old) of permanent residents.
- F2B: Unmarried adult children (over 21 years old) of permanent residents.
c. Third Preference (F3): Married children of U.S. citizens.
d. Fourth Preference (F4): Siblings of U.S. citizens, if the citizen is at least 21 years old.

3. Filing Process: The U.S. citizen or permanent resident sponsor typically starts the process by filing a family-based immigrant petition (Form I-130) with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). This petition establishes the qualifying relationship between the sponsor and the intending immigrant. Once the petition is approved, the intending immigrant can proceed with the application for a green card.

4. Priority Dates: Preference category petitions are subject to priority dates, which determine the waiting period for visa availability. Priority dates are established based on the date the petition is filed. The monthly Visa bulletin, published monthly by the U.S. Department of State, provides information on the current priority dates for each category.

5. Consular Processing and Adjustment of Status: After the priority date becomes current and a visa is available, the intending immigrant can go through consular processing if they are outside the United States or apply for adjustment of status if they are already in the United States. Consular processing involves completing the visa application at a U.S. embassy or consulate abroad, while adjustment of status is the process of applying for a green card while remaining in the United States.


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